#SuperBowl Gone Social

By Lauren Sleeper

This year's Super Bowl promises to be the most wired yet.  Fans are able to interact with each other, their team, and the athletes playing like never before.  The social campaigns from brands, the NFL and the teams themselves are all proving that social TV truly has arrived.  

Strengthening the Fan Base

Of course, Twitter and Facebook facilitates conversation amongst like-minded people, around events or brands they are all passionate about.  As a New Yorker who lives in Boston, I can certainly say my newsfeed has been flooded with people posting about the Giants, the Pats, and the Super Bowl.  And now, all of those posts are  grouped together by topic through one of the more recent updates to the newsfeed.  Avid fans can access all of the conversation friends and brands are having around the big game with a single click.  While this is great for users, a brand's message can be lost in the flurry of content.

The continuing growth of celebrity and athlete adoption of public-facing social profiles has only served to bring fans that much closer to the athletes they love.  While there are some restrictions placed on athletes by the NFL and their respective teams on when they can post publicly/what they can disclose, they are still able to share and interact with fans on a level that was never before possible.  One of my favorite Super Bowl stories this year comes from BC alum Mak Herzlich.  Because of his active Twitter profile, he is able to give his fans a glimpse into his first Super Bowl experience -- without the added layers of a media team or sidelines reporter.


Involvement from the NFL

The Super Bowl committee has of course done the social media basics.  There is a dedicated Facebook page, YouTube Channel,  Twitter profile, and a foursquare page (with lots of tips!).  What is more impressive are the additional social and technological tie-ins that are being launched this year.  For the first time in the history of the game, the Super Bowl will be live streamed on both NFL.com and NBCsports.com.  Both of the streams will be available for free in high definition on game day, and will give viewers the ability to watch from different camera angles and feeds.  In addition to web streaming, the NFL mobile app will also allow you to view the game from your mobile device -- but only if you are a Verizon customer.  With feeds of player statistics and play-by-play updates from the field, the mobile app promises to be a great way to watch the game, strangely enough, without a television  Rick Cordella, VP and GM of NBC Sports Digital Media commented on the app: “By adding multiple camera angles, HD-quality video, DVR controls along with social interactivity, our online streaming represents a compelling, second-screen experience that nicely complements NBC’s on-air presentation."

Another first for the NFL , the Super Bowl XLVI Host Committee  has created a Social Media Command Center  which is essentially an optimized social microsite.  To track all of the social conversation surrounding the game, a staff of 50 working in a 2,800 square foot space above the Super Bowl village will be using social media monitoring tool Awareness.  They are tasked with tracking Super Bowl activity across four networks via 300+ keywords, game mentions and hashtags.  In addition to monitoring the general conversation, the staff will also be tweeting and posting useful tips and answering questions for fans right in Indianapolis -- where to park, what to do in the city, and in the unlikely event of an emergency - facilitate help.   That the NFL recognized the power of social media to make or break an event is a huge indication of how necessary it now is for customer support and large-scale event management.

Functioning like a sophisticated Twitter or Tweetdeck search, the NFL has also recently launched The Huddle.  The feed displayed in The Huddle is a combination of social updates from the players, teams, hosts and general media. As a social participant, you are able to post directly to the stream, while also sharing your update on Twitter and/or Facebook. The players trends, trending topics and of course Super Bowl sub-feeds all let you drill down even further into the specific topic of conversation you would like to interact with.  Twitter alone allows fans across the country to come together and support their team by following hashtags or athlete's/team's accounts.  NFL sanctioned conversation hubs like the Huddle only further solidifies that relationship for fans, wherever they may be watching.

The Giants are also ramping up their social efforts and are hosting a "Social Media Night" tonight from 6:30-7:30 pm EST.   The broadcast is accessible from Giants.com/NYGsocial and will allow fans to interact directly with the players via Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.  Fans can follow specific hashtags on Twitter for the players that are participating (Jake BallardSteve WeatherfordTyler Sash and Prince Amukamara) as well as additional Giants alumni and sports broadcasters.  In addition to the Twitter chat, the Giants are also hosting a Google+ hangout for 20 (very lucky) fans with  Victor CruzCorey WebsterMark Herzlich, and Henry Hynoski.

Social TV & Advertising 

According to Nielsen, 2/3 of television viewers also use their smartphones or tablets to text, tweet or post to Facebook while watching TV.  It is no surprise, then, that advertisers want to create ads that viewers can interact with on some level via their gadgets, or at the very least encourages them to share with friends and followers.

The Toyota 2012 Camry is being marketed as the Camry"reinvented."  For the first time in a number of years, Toyota is airing a spot during the game for the reinvented Camry.  The commercial will include a call to action asking viewers to tweet with the hashtag #reinvented other items they would like to see "revamped."  Toyota is then going to select a number of those tweets to respond to that night with sketches of the reinvented product/item.  Similar to the immediate fan response of the Old Spice Man social campaign, Toyota is stepping up this model during the biggest sporting event of the year!

The stars of Coca Cola's Super Bowl ads, the Polar Bears, are having their first Super Bowl viewing party this year.  The bears' party has their own site, Facebook event, and presence on Coca Cola Facebook page.  The bears are split into two groups - one cheering for the Giants, and one for the Patriots.  Real time footage of their cheering is going to be streamed during the game, and you can RSVP and participate in the event online.  In addition, party-goers will be able to share highlights from the bears with friends (and rivals!) during the livestream, and therefore share Coca Cola's Superbowl advertisement.

GoDaddy, notorious for airing racy commercials that drive viewers back to their website, is incorporating QR codes into their spots this year. Now, a viewer can scan the QR code that will be shown at the end of their commercial to be directed right to the scandalous conclusion on their site.  Scanning your television seems somewhat forced, but it certainly is a new functionality to test.

Chevrolet is launching a Super Bowl app called Chevy Game Time.  The app incorporates a gaming element that encourages viewers to look for clues in Chevrolet's ads and during the game in order to answer questions.   Anyone around the world can play, and winner will be rewarded thousands of prizes from co-sponsors... and 20 brand-new cars.  The brand has also created a Super Bowl Ad Meter tab on their Facebook page, which gives fans a sneak peak of the ads before they air.  Fans can then vote on their favorite ad, and easily share it with their Facebook friends.

What other social campaigns are you excited for this Super Bowl?  Share below in the comments!