As everyday people, we too get caught up in the hype of big time events and find brands’ strategies and marketing tactics unique to those extraordinary circumstances. But while the scale and magnitude of this week’s Super Bowl is hard to match on any given day, as marketers the social and communication strategies we saw are very applicable in our day-to-day. Taking a page from this year’s playbook of successful social campaigns, here are three strategies that brands should employ year-round.
Lay the groundwork before a big event.
In the context of a one-time event like the Super Bowl or even the upcoming Oscars, pre-releasing an ad is not common practice for many brands. Sure, it creates some early social activity but can also squash the in-the-moment madness. This year, however, we saw several brands extend the life of their ads and build social conversation by releasing traditional game night material several days to even a week leading up to the game.
Take Tide, for example. The brand released multiple spots starring Rob Gronkowski and his lack of dry cleaning skills in the days leading up, which generated more than 100,000 initial Twitter messages prior to the game itself. Then, during the game, the company debuted a totally new but companion commercial starring Terry Bradshaw and his barbeque sauce-stained shirt. It was clear on social that this content switch was an immediate hit and, just after it aired, people started talking about Tide even more, garnering an additional 18,707 mentions. Tide took the surprise and delight route this year: going above and beyond to entertain people and give them several pieces of content with which they could interact on social.
Use this tactic to extend the lifecycle and impact of everything from a conference sponsorship to a new product release. Seed concepts with influencers for a few weeks or spark the interest of your community with well-placed spots or product teasers ahead of a time-sensitive moment. Complement those initial tactics with your main event for longer lasting and more dimensions of impact.
Share a message that’s bigger than the game -- and your brand.
More than one brand used the massive visibility to express their deeper values and share broader hopes for their communities and the country. Given our current political and social climate, when brands choose to take a stand, it’s important that they be prepared for both positive and negative reactions (short- or long-term) to expressing an opinion. After seeing brands from Audi to 84 Lumber take this approach, it’s safe to assume that they weighed the possible backlash and felt confident in moving forward and addressing criticism appropriately.
Airbnb was perhaps the most successful at incorporating its message into a social media campaign, using the game to launch its #weaccept initiative. According to the announcement on its site following the ad, Airbnb plans to “provide short-term housing over the next five years for 100,000 people in need.” The company's brand accounts, as well as its CEO and founders, tweeted extensively during the game, and #weaccept was trending within a half hour after the commercial aired.
The Tweet volume numbers certainly support this. Using the Sprout Social Twitter Listening Report, the Sprout team dug into the data to see just how many times the brand or its commercial was mentioned. That night through the next morning brought in 143,776 tweets for Airbnb. A third of those messages came after the conclusion of the game, and the numbers continue to rise, proof of their impressive message and engagement strategy.
The main lesson here? If you decide to take a stand as a company, ensure you’ve got a well-planned, thought-out campaign that reflects the values and ideals of your organization. And if you really want to keep the conversation going, tap into an idea larger than your brand itself.
Related: 10 Laws of Social Media Marketing
Build brand-on-brand banter.
The “brand-on-brand” social interaction during the big game was pretty interesting to witness this year. The personality and engagement demonstrated during each interaction further proved that the entertainment doesn’t always happen on the big screen. Social media offers the opportunity to extend engagement, giving those $5-million spots a human touch and higher ROI. On Twitter in particular, people get pumped to see brands interacting with each other, and the tactic affords brands a chance to add personality to social conversations. With the right people behind the brand profiles, the result can be some interactive and witty banter all around.
Mr. Clean was the most involved and, perhaps, friendliest brand of the night. The account interacted with practically every other participating brand throughout the game. It commented on a variety of commercials ranging from Honda to GoDaddy, and committed fully to developing the character of Mr. Clean. Whether you’re a fan of Mr. Clean’s Super Bowl performance or not, it’s indisputable it got consumers talking. Upon the premiere of the commercial during the game between 7 and 8 p.m. CT, 50,587 tweets came rushing in mentioning the brand. That night through the next morning brought in 135,829 tweets total.
Give the brand credit for clear intentions and a solid game plan, but a caveat to this approach is that it may come across as trying a bit too hard if you don’t curate carefully. Some people’s social commentary on Mr. Clean post-half time indicated fans thought the company may be getting a bit overzealous. This type of engagement doesn’t need to center around a big event, but make sure you find the right balance between engagement and annoyance. Simply stay abreast of social conversations that are relevant to your brand’s customers and personality -- then jump in with fun commentary as appropriate.