Brands, It's Time to Get Your Game Face On

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, July 13, 2015

Down on the field, Super Bowl XLIX may have kicked off at 6:30 pm ET on Feb. 1, but up above in the press box, the Seahawks’ social media team had already been in the midst of heated play for hours. More than 28.4 million global tweets containing terms related to the game were sent during regulation, making it the most social Super Bowl ever. Given this volume – and the passions running high for many of those posting to social – how exactly did the Seahawks’ social team keep up?

Fast-forward a few weeks to the only other annual TV spectacle that could potentially give the Super Bowl a run for its money: the Academy Awards. As millions of Americans sat back with champagne, popcorn and open social feeds to discuss the Red Carpet, the Entertainment Weekly (EW) social team went into prime time. It’s the biggest day of the year in entertainment news, and yet there are just three people on EW’s social team to staff their combined feeds’ millions of followers. How do they do it?



Much like the Seahawks team on the field has their game plan, so, too, does their social team have a playbook they follow for each game day that breaks down content posting and engagement strategy. Each member is given their separate responsibility – whether that be live-tweeting the game, engaging with fans or capturing and sharing video—and their rate for content publishing typically follows a 10% pre-game, 30% in-game and 60% post-game breakdown strategy. This strategy isn’t impenetrable, however, and they constantly reassess and maneuver based on the level of engagement received – no easy feat considering the more than 4.5 million total engagements received across social channels the week of the Super Bowl alone.

Meanwhile, given EW’s tiny social team, there are a few key things that are essential to their flawless execution. First, the proper gear– you can’t be everywhere at once, so take a tip from the team and invest in the right equipment. Whether your team is as small as Entertainment Weekly’s or you have a much deeper bench, services like Slack and Slingbox are essential to ensuring that you can act efficiently and effectively. 

Secondly, practice. Before entering your social media war room, pull any graphics, photographs, video content and social media handles that could potentially be useful and have them stored in a way that makes them easily on hand and ready for use.

Once in the war room itself, the EW team is like the Seahawks in that they have carefully designated roles. Unlike the Seahawks, the EW team doesn’t pre-draft content, and instead develops 75% of award-show posts in real time. That can seem incredibly daunting and like it’s opening up your brand for potentially disastrous gaffes, but as senior social media editor Chris Rackliffe explains, with the high-real time stakes of award show-type events, this can really pay off for experienced social teams in a comfortable groove with each other.

“For us, it’s all about the moments, and having Entertainment Weekly associated with those moments,” he says. “People rely on us to be their friend in the room, the person with the commentary, their companion while they watch TV.”

And it pays off: this past year, EW was one of the first to tweet out a photo of Patricia Arquette with a quote from her viral acceptance speech, and that single tweet garnered them over 5,000 retweets.

So for your next big game day, don’t forget the essentials: rehearse your game plan, have your gear ready, the practice will pay off, and always be ready to think on your feet and roll with the action to come up with a game-winning play.

Feeling more prepared to take on your next big real-time campaign? Even if you don’t have your own version of the Super Bowl or Academy Awards coming up, these tips can be a huge help with day-to-day social media marketing. Because on social, game day is never really over.

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