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The Super Bowl is a unique marketing moment for brands. It’s a chance to get reacquainted after consumers have recovered from holiday shopping, and gain exposure before Valentine’s Day campaigns begin in earnest. What tactics have helped brands “win” in the past, and what insights can power campaigns going forward? Let’s explore…

Betting on a sure thing

No matter the teams playing, there’s one thing viewers will tune in to see: the commercials. Both have huge potential for capturing share of voice on Super Bowl Sunday – and before.

With regard to commercials, the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” certainly applies – especially if your brand has a long history with a certain Super Bowl element, like Budweiser’s Clydesdales. The Clydesdales are the ambassadors of Bud’s brand, and a Super Bowl without them would just feel wrong. The same can’t be said for the puppies added in 2014 and 2015.

In 2016, Budweiser decided not to continue the heartfelt theme of the previous two years – a series of adorable puppy/Clydesdale commercials that were popular and celebrated, but didn’t ultimately sell beer. This is a good example of how you must use other data in conjunction with social data to get a complete picture to inform strategy.

And while 2016 also saw a new type of commercial in the mix, featuring Helen Mirren delivering a responsible drinking message, the Clydesdales were still there, carrying on their long-standing tradition.

Knowing what works – and what doesn’t

Looking back at what didn’t work in previous years helps ensure this year’s campaigns are on point, as Budweiser proves. Look at historical data for your own brand, but also for your competitors, to see what had people talking – both positively and negatively.

For example, last year’s Super Bowl featured a fair number of serious, public service announcement style commercials, which were well received – like No More’s domestic violence spot.

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It might seem like the Super Bowl isn’t the place for such heavy-handed subjects – except for the number of NFL players involved in such incidents. People were happy to see the NFL taking a stand by continuing their partnership with No More.

Other commercials about health-related issues didn’t get the same love last year, like Xifaxan’s IBSD commercial. It’s important for every brand to reach their audience – but not every brand is going to be a fit for the Super Bowl.

Capturing the attention of an audience that might be yours – mixed in with consumers who couldn’t care less – takes skill. And sometimes even the best ideas don’t pan out. Only you can decide if the Super Bowl is the right time and place for your message – but social analytics should be a big part of figuring it out.

Looking beyond your brand – and even beyond the Super Bowl – can tell you a lot. For example, there were many who felt the 2016 Oscars had better commercials overall than the Super Bowl. Smart brands would look back at what those commercials were, and figure out how much audience crossover they had between the two events as they planned this year’s campaigns.

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Capitalizing on new mediums

Back in the day, the only time you could see Super Bowl commercials was on Super Sunday, during the game itself – with commercials re-airing in the weeks to follow if they still applied.

In recent years, social media has helped brands get a jump on their Super Bowl campaigns, with some brands releasing sneak peeks on YouTube, like Dannon’s Full House “bromance” commercial, which aired in late January, prior to the 2/2/14 game date.

Other brands have created commercial series that carry over from year to year – like Budweiser’s Puppy Love and Lost Dog commercials mentioned above. Because everything is archived on the web, this is pretty easy to do. Tease a sequel, and viewers can easily refresh themselves on last year’s commercial before viewing the new one.

And there are new social platforms at play as well, like Snapchat, which had several brands diving in for Super Bowl 50 in 2016. Expect more of that this year, and possibly some Instagram stories as well.

Taking advantage of trending topics

Historical data isn’t the only consideration, of course. A campaign that makes use of what’s happening right now can blow others out of the water if it’s done right. Tracking trending topics to know what might be a fit for your brand is key – and easy to do with a tool like Instant Search to get a jumping off point.

Looking at the Brands trending within the topic Super Bowl 2017 tells you what else social users are talking about – which gives you a way into the conversation:

trending super bowl

You can look at a number of other metrics for clues about what has consumers fired up – for good or bad – leading into the game.

Sharing viewers’ passion

The passion they have for the things they share is what matters most – at least, if you want to get them excited to engage with your brand. Looking at Net Sentiment (whether emotions are positive or negative) and then Passion Intensity (the strength of those emotions) tells you where to focus your efforts.

Looking at the word cloud for Behaviors within Sentiment Drivers shows there’s a lot of anticipation and excitement about the game – but also awards season overall. Winning is on everyone’s mind:

super bowl behaviors

Churn up some more information about who social users are backing, and talk to them – human to human.

Offering the right campaign for the right channel

As always, where you communicate matters. Trying something new – like Snapchat – is great if your analytics tell you your audience is there, but you likely have audiences in unexpected places as well. If you don’t know where to start, here’s a look at where the most passionate Super Bowl conversations are happening overall.

super bowl brand passion

Twitter has the most posts and mentions, and very high Net Sentiment and Passion Intensity, so you want to be sure you focus some attention there for sure. Tumblr has the next highest mentions and followers, and though their Net Sentiment isn’t as high, it’s still pretty positive, and the people who are posting are super passionate – Passion Intensity is 100%. Instagram comes in third, and while they have a lot fewer posts and mentions compared to Twitter – and about half as many as Tumblr – they have very positive Net Sentiment and high Passion Intensity as well. They’re a small, but passionate fan base.

That doesn’t mean you can’t post on other platforms. You need to go deeper with your analytics to see where your brand’s audience is talking, and be sure to interact there.

And that’s where the rest of your intel will come from – the brand-specific insights you’ve cultivated over time. But the information above can help you broaden your horizons and look at your data from a new angle – so you can find new audiences, and create the most appealing campaigns you’ve ever run.

There’s still time, so get to work so you’ll be ready come kickoff.

Reach out today to put our Instant Search tool to work for powerful insights you can use right now.

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Image from Austin Kirk

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