A Guide to Social Media and Super Bowl XLVII

| February 1, 2013

In addition to changing how we communicate and share information, social media has also changed how people watch sports. Whether you’re at a sports bar, hanging out with friends, or watching the game alone, fans can instantly become a part of a much larger conversation via social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

During last year’s Super Bowl, 13.7 million tweets were posted, up significantly from the 3 million tweets related to the game in 2011. Predictions are even higher for this year’s game.

While there will be comments connected to plays on the field, much of the chatter during the Super Bowl may not be about the actual game. It will be commercials, Beyonce’s halftime show, favorite chili recipes, or the cutest animal in the Puppy Bowl.

More than 180 million people are expected to watch the Super Bowl on CBS, and many of these people will also be watching a second screen (a phone, tablet, or laptop computer). This weekend advertisers and marketers will try to determine the most effective way to communicate with this captive audience.

As you watch the game, the commercials, or the halftime show on Sunday, here are a few things to watch or follow to see how different groups are using social media on one of the biggest sports days of the year.

Follow hashtags

The best way to join the social media conversation is to follow hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. The official hashtag for Super Bowl XLVII is #SB47, but other hashtags to watch include #SuperBowl, #SuperBowl47, #Harbowl, and #QuestForSix (in reference to the 49er’s pursuit of a sixth championship title). Make sure you keep your eyes open for topical hashtags during the game as well.


Instagram is relatively new to the social media scene, but organizations are jumping at the chance to increase their engagement on this highly popular channel during the Super Bowl. The @49ers and @Ravens have already started the Instagram chatter by posting backstage glimpses of their preparations for the Super Bowl. Watch Instagram for photos from Super Bowl teams, performers, and fans throughout the game.

Traditional advertising

Super Bowl ads are the most expensive television ads, costing companies an average of $3.8 million for 30 seconds of airtime. In an era of ad-skipping DVRs, it’s one of the only opportunities advertisers have to reach engaged audiences via traditional TV commercials. A major goal of Super Bowl advertisers is to not only capture the viewing audience during the game, but then to encourage people to engage with their brand on social media.

While the teams spent this week previewing their players with the media, advertisers were also previewing their ads. From a baby Clydesdale in the new Budweiser ad to a  Minnesotan  using a Jamaican accent in a VW sports car, advertisers are getting people as excited about commercials and their products as they are about the game.

Advertisers will also encourage you to engage with them on their websites or social media accounts after their commercial airs. Half of the ads this year are expected to include Twitter hashtags in their game-time spots, and many will encourage people to watch additional footage on their websites.

Also look for advertisers to target the Animal Planet Puppy Bowl, which has risen dramatically in popularity since its inception in 2005. Last year, the Puppy Bowl had 8.7 million unique total viewers during the 12 hour marathon. Puppy Bowl ads cost dramatically less than Super Bowl ads, but still reach a large, socially engaged audience.

Guerrilla advertising

This year advertisers will not just target television channels, they will also advertise on highly trafficked social media sites. Twitter is expecting thousands of tweets per second, making Twitter a powerful tool for advertisers. Watch for promoted tweets – tweets purchased by advertisers that are called out at the top of searches – targeted at specific demographics throughout the game.

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