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Super Bowl Social Media Playbook

Super Bowl LIII kicks off Feb. 3, a dream day for millions of passionate fans — and for marketers eager to reach them. In an era of ad blocking, it’s one day consumers actually seek out brand messages, and there are no timeouts in social marketing on Super Bowl Sunday.

First, some crucial stats from last year:

-- Streaming audiences reached record highs according to NBC, with viewership peaking at 3.1 million concurrent streams.
-- The game produced 170.7 million social media interactions across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, according to Nielsen, peaking at 10:20 PM ET as the game ended.
-- The average user launched social networking apps 4.58 times, sports apps 3.49 times, and news apps 2.31 times during the game, as reported by Localytics.

What does this all mean? While the big action is being viewed on TV, the big activity is happening on mobile. Every single marketer who uses social media the right way can make powerful plays.

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Here are a few tips to help marketers reach their goal:

Play to your strengths. Don’t try to be everywhere for the sake of having a presence. Think strategically and choose platforms wisely.

For CPG, retail or alcohol brands, that means Pinterest before the game, with party planners running point.

During the game, things change: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (in that order) are the channels consumers prefer most, according to an Influencer Central study. Last year, Facebook IQ reported 270 million user interactions during Super Bowl LII—90% of them on mobile devices.

According to SocialCode data, total ad spend allocated to Twitter during the day of Super Bowl increased by 126%, confirming its place as a preferred platform of advertisers for the Super Bowl.

Limit fumbles and incompletions.  If marketers focus too much on self-promotion, they’ll drop the ball. Being relevant means keeping your audience engaged.

Have a game plan to make your brand truly part of their experience. But keep in mind, a lot can happen in four quarters. Be ready to call an audible and create new interactions as events unfold. Don’t let those unexpected opportunities get by you.

Get points on the board early. For a winning performance, marketers need to prepare carefully and harness the factors they can control. Start by locking in ads in advance. That allows for campaigns to be set at a fixed cost, which will help reach the right audience with predictable frequency by using Facebook’s Reach and Frequency Buying Tools in Instant Experience, In Stream and more.

Next, bid on geographic terms. Last year, users in states with teams that made it to the playoffs had 1.35x more engagement (likes, comments, and shares) compared to the rest of the U.S., according to SocialCode’s data.

Finally, marketers can give their game plan more power by bidding on popular keywords and hashtags. Keywords like Guacworld and TeamTabasco were widely used in Super Bowl LII, as were general Twitter hashtags like #SBLII, #SuperBowl and #SB52. If marketers want to be competitive, they must be ready to spend competitively.

Go for the extra point. The little details can make a big difference. For instance, research shows that users shoot smartphone videos vertically 94% of the time. With Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook creating new ad formats to match, using high-quality vertical video for placements is an easy call.

The same goes for still shots. Snapchat’s branded filters and lenses give you more ways to tap into vertical formats to improve your results.

Offense, defense and special teams. Super Bowl conversation picks up on Saturday, peaks on Sunday and tapers quickly on Monday.

That means marketing plans need to be versatile enough to cover all the possibilities. Brands should overestimate the amount of content they’ll need to create in advance.

But remember, the game is broadcast live, so anything can happen. Be ready to adapt and create new content as the game unfolds.

Post-game action. When the clock runs out, keep your momentum going. Reward great user-generated content with likes, comments and reposts. Retarget people who saw your message and ads live during the actual event. Use retweets and responses to tap into the content from other brands.

In social media the ball keeps moving, so marketers need to keep themselves up-to-date on innovations so they’ll be ready to make the most of the next big event.

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