Marketing Bootcamp

Social Media Is the Super Bowl Ad Every Brand Can Afford

When it comes to major events that capture the attention of people across the globe, the Super Bowl is one constant we can look forward to each and every year.

The Super Bowl is the culmination of a 17-week odyssey, with the NFL’s two surviving teams fighting for a championship on the world’s biggest stage. While the Patriots and Seahawks battle it out on the field, another fierce competition will take place off of it, as brands fight for your attention throughout the broadcast.

There is no amount of hyperbole that can do justice to the marketing activity that is going to happen this weekend. For brands, the Super Bowl is also well, their Super Bowl. Sunday night will a double-edged sword - it’s the best opportunity for consumer engagement, but also the most competitive time to get your message showcased above the chatter. While some brands pay millions for 30-second ad spots on broadcast TV, the best way to reach the consumers you crave just may  be free via social media.

Related: During Super Bowl, the Real Action Will Be on Social Media (Infographic)

By utilizing user-generated content campaigns - where fan content from social media is the heart of the message, not your marketing slogans - brands put fans at the center of the conversation. This involves them as part of the action and not just passive viewers. Audiences might ignore the barrage of typical advertising, but they’ll participate in games, contests and conversations.

To create a content strategy that helps your brand bring home the big trophy this Sunday without spending the big dollars, remember these tips:

Content is still king.

This may be Marketing 101, but let’s take it in a different direction – fan-oriented content is king in 2015. Remember that Oreo moment at the 2013 Super Bowl? That stood out because it was a brand listening to the real-time conversation of fans and using that information to power a resonating message. Would it have had the same impact if it hadn’t mentioned the blackout, and Oreo was just asking people to dunk their cookies? Likely not. This Super Bowl, stay agile to what’s happening in real-time, and leverage user-generated content to make a bigger impact.

Embrace the second-screen.

Understand your role in the conversation this Sunday and know that you likely aren’t driving it. Sorry, but it’s true. The rest of the world is focused primarily on the game, and not your content, no matter how clever. Knowing this, aim to be the perfect second-screen companion and deliver an extended experience for your audience. User-generated content ties in perfectly, as most of the experience should involve sharing and conversation building. The goal is to provide something engaging for when people look away from the game and turn to their tablets or smartphones.

Related: Marketing Was the Real Winner at the Super Bowl

Want more technical advice? Make sure whatever marketing content you do create is targeted at mobile-first. This means short and sweet messages that are easily consumable on small touch-screens—no long infographics or pages that require multiple swipes allowed.

Bring something fresh.

Easier said than done, right? It’s like that line from The Incredibles - “When everyone tries to be special, no one is.” The key to avoiding being put in the box of “typical brand" is to look for angles that no one else has tapped. The Guardian did this when they recently translated President Obama’s State of the Union by live-tweeting the entire address into emojis. Since a lot of content is going to be created, hashed and then re-hashed a million times over, sometimes “being fresh” doesn’t have to be about avoiding the conversation entirely. Instead, you can get great results by leaning into the highest trending conversation points (because that’s what audiences want to see) and merely providing a twist of personality.

For major events like this Sunday’s Super Bowl, you don’t have to dominate the conversation to come out as a winner, but you do need to take an active part in it. Utilize social media and interact with your consumers in an engaging way, and your brand will come out on top.

Related: NFL Launches First Official YouTube Channel Days Before Super Bowl Kickoff