Social Media Marketing: The Super Bowl MVP

“In a world that is changing so rapidly, you are guaranteed to fail if you do not take any risks!  Facebook is a space for exchanging ideas, providing a check on authority and pushing boundaries.” – Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook will soon be launching its much-anticipated initial public offering (IPO), seeking to raise $5 billion, but possibly placing the social network’s value as high as $75 – $100 billion. In 2011 the company’s net income rose 65% to $1 billion, while revenue rose 88% to $3.7 billion. When all is finished, Facebook will likely enjoy the largest IPO by a social media web company in history!

Social media has transformed the very nature of marketing. In fact, it has changed the way society understands global social phenomena like the recent Super Bowl. According to marketing experts, 52% of all the Super Bowl viewers engaged in some kind of social media communication during the game. Instead of focusing on the superiority of one team over the other, the football game was transformed into a Starbuck-style stage where the new societal MVP, the Super Bowl’s new “raison d’etre,” was social marketing!

The average 30-second television spot during Sunday evening’s Super Bowl was priced at $3.5 million dollars! In the past, advertisers competed to simply win the USA Today ad meter, by getting the “reach” that Super Bowl airtime typically provided. This year’s commercials were different, however, in that they all included a social media component. As business owners sought to effectively debut new products and services, they combined social media technologies with television spots to enhance their brand’s appeal.

But apart from providing a bit of entertainment for fans before, during, and after the game, what exactly did advertisers get for their super social marketing playbook dollars? According to expert marketing analysts, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Craigslist are valuable because they give everyone a “voice.” They allow the individual a chance for their opinion to be heard by hundreds of millions of people. In this fashion, everyone is theoretically working together for the common good.

Unfortunately, some business leaders underestimate the effect of this power. At the very most, they simply use social media infrastructures such as YouTube to make their traditional marketing spots available to online traffic. In one way, they are correct. Social media marketing cannot magically create value where one does not already exist. But it can be a powerful enabler and an accelerator of existing core attributes, capabilities, values, and vision.

The following four companies used robust social media tools to blitz their products and services before and after they actually aired during the Super Bowl.

PepsiCo linked the power of social media with society’s “creative nature” to enhance its brand loyalty.  A pre-Super Bowl advertising contest called “Sneak Peek” encouraged consumers the chance to design and then select the commercials that the company would show during the actual game.  The YouTube based campaign was a tremendous success.

Bud Light used the “gaming” feature of social media to heighten brand awareness. Prior to airing their three separate ads on Sunday, the company “Secret Spot” campaign shrewdly invited consumers to visit their Facebook page.  If Bud Light fans could correctly guess what their commercials would be about — the company promised to unlock yet another commercial prior to the game.

Like Bud Light and PepsiCo, Mercedes-Benz used their online Facebook presence before the Super Bowl to gain more exposure. The company ran an inventive contest called “The World’s First Twitter Fueled Races.” The two-day race included teams of drivers (each with a celebrity coach) that had to overcome challenges by using “tweet-fueled” support to move their respective cars forward on the road to Indianapolis, the site of this year’s Super Bowl.

Finally, Plan-B advertising agency developed and launched the “First Annual Edition of Super Bowl Ad Bingo!” To play, viewers were invited to simply tune into NBC’s Super Bowl broadcast and “interactively engage” with the advertisements that played during the commercial breaks. Whenever a viewer discovered an element in one of the commercials that matched a description on their bingo card, they simply clicked on their 25-square card and it changed color.

Gaming, creativity, competition, and interactivity provide excellent examples of how social media can be successfully employed to create marketing momentum.

Dr. Frank Marangos is CEO and Founder of OINOS Educational Consulting. He received a Doctors Degree in Adult Education (Ed.D.) from NOVA Southeastern University (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) and a Doctorate in Ministry and Childhood Education (D.Min.) from Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX).

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