The 2023 Super Bowl is set to be the biggest of all time—at least for marketers. And that has very little to do with the teams on the field, who’s performing at halftime, or even the usual slate of ultra-expensive commercials.
This will be the year community social engagement around the big game will reach a new level. In fact, we predict that this year’s Super Bowl will blow out the records for social impression reach, even after game day 2022 smashed expectations for social engagement and sentiment.
That means you don’t need a bazillion dollar ad spot to capitalize on opportunities for your brand.
There are three critical trends that are converging to make this Super Bowl a social media juggernaut:
- People are seeking community in real life and virtually, and the Super Bowl offers both options (they’re not mutually exclusive!)
- Influencer authority is on the rise, and those communities are growing and ready to engage in real time during live events.
- The practice of “going live” is getting more and more popular, and people are tuning in for those live virtual events on social.
While big-budget advertising on network TV gets most of the headlines, millions of viewers will be on their second screen and engaging with social media in real time. Your brand needs to be ready to connect with viewers leading up to and during the Super Bowl.
Pre-Game: Engage with consumers looking for Super Bowl party inspiration
As we all know from time in the Cyber Week trenches, a marketing strategy can’t just focus on the big day, but everything leading up to the occasion. Enter the Super Bowl party: after a pandemic lull, people are planning to get together in person in droves.
According to the NRF, 103.5 million people plan to throw or attend a party for the big game this year. And they’re looking for the right recipes, tips, and products that will make their party a hit.
Pinterest has long been a primary source for consumers looking for inspiration and creativity, especially when it comes to parties and events. It’s an ideal platform for influencers and content creators to share ideas and products with users. Interest in Super Bowl party ideas on Pinterest generally starts in early February and peaks before the big game.
But there is another social platform you need to consider in your pre-game strategy: TikTok. Because of its deep bench of influencers and creators, we expect TikTok to act as the unofficial platform of the Super Bowl before, during, and after the actual game.
Right now there are nearly 30 million views across TikTok videos when you search “hosting a super bowl party,” with that number expected to climb until game day.
By now, you know that influencer endorsements of a brand, product, or service impacts brand awareness and drives purchase decisions, but when you add seasonality to the mix, you are calling a hot route (football-ese for adjusting to a shorter route) from consideration to purchase.
Brands can launch influencer marketing campaigns targeting Super Bowl hosts looking for cool cooking gadgets to clinch the win for best spread or dressing to impress with throwback gear of their favorite team. You can partner with influencers to expand your coverage with relevant, timely content and drive engagement leading up to Super Bowl Sunday.
Some brands will try to ride all of the waves and insert themselves into every conversation, but that’s not the best use of your time and resources. Focus on updating your creative strategy to respond to these trends but make sure those adjustments feel authentic to your brand.
Game Day: Join the virtual community with a smarter Super Bowl strategy
Sure, marquee ad spots get nearly as much attention as the game itself these days, but second screening will be a formidable force on Super Bowl Sunday Sports fans and casual spectators alike will be looking to engage with the virtual communities of their choice in real time even before the whistle blows on America’s unofficial national holiday.
From a marketing activation perspective, you should consider two different approaches (or a combination of both) to influencer engagement on game day itself by working with:
- A partner with a background in sports or commentary, or would organically be posting during the Super Bowl
- A partner whose content might be outside of the typical sports coverage, but skews toward what your target audience usually consumes
Many brands will go with the first option. NFL fans can expect more live content from influencers talking about the game, halftime show, and advertisements. Those personalities represent a great range from pure entertainment to in-depth expertise, including recognizable media figures, people with a sports background, and everyday users.
The NFL itself is partnering with current NFL player Isaac Rochell and his wife Allison Kuch to host an NFL Watch Party, coined as a #TikTokTailgate. TikTok is funneling its massive lineup of popular content creators, influencers, celebrities, and athletes into that virtual tailgate party—and using this moment to challenge its reputation as an endless scroll of funny videos and sell brands on its performance marketing capabilities.
Because TikTok exerts such a strong pull on viewer attention, it has emerged as not just a second screen advertising option but an alternative primary screen. That’s why TikTok is becoming a real threat to traditional Super Bowl advertising and competing for real-time marketing dollars.
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The potential for engagement isn’t limited to hardcore sports enthusiasts; that’s where the second option for partnership comes in. Non-sports fans will open up the app to hear hot takes from their favorite personalities, even if their regular content output is discussing Love Island or explaining finance. The point of virtual community isn’t sports, it’s connection. People are tuning in to enjoy spending time with people. That’s the beauty of a collective moment like the Super Bowl and why it’s the perfect time to expand your brand’s reach.
Getting the W: The new Super Bowl advertising game plan
If you’re ready to take advantage of this once-a-year social phenomenon, here’s what you need to do:
Capitalize on increased attention: More people will be spending time on their preferred digital platforms, so there are more opportunities to reach your audience. You don’t need to change your entire strategy, but you do need to make sure your budgets are healthy and your CPMs and bid strategies are competitive when engagement starts to spike.
Adjust your creative to captivate users with many options: Your ad experiences and messaging need to engage your audience and reflect the moment. You may need to make adjustments if campaign creative isn’t suited to an atmosphere of fun and lighthearted entertainment. When in doubt, go for the heart: look to speak to consumer needs or make your audience laugh. That’s the sweet spot for many influencers and content creators, so consider partnering with an authoritative voice that makes those themes resonate with your intended audience.
Tap into interactive content: If paid content isn’t in the budget, you can take the organic route to differentiate your brand and capture attention in a highly competitive environment. Interactive experiences can be some of the most memorable and engaging types of content when audiences are looking for something playful. After all, they’re coming to the table primed for gamification; why not leverage a poll or quiz to make the most of the moment?
Treat messaging as a priming opportunity: You should remember that people who see your ads or interact with your content may not make a purchase on game day. Your audience is likely highly distracted by the game, a party, and a whole lot of content and ads. But that doesn’t mean your messaging isn’t effective. People that were exposed to your ads may convert later. Keep monitoring performance throughout the following week, especially if your goal is to build brand awareness. Look for performance lifts that correlate with your Super Bowl campaigns regardless of what channel they’re coming from.
In the end, what’s really important is the impression you make on your audience once you have their attention. You should open up your creative strategy and lean into areas that speak to the current cultural zeitgeist. Brands that take an agile approach to seasonal opportunities like the Super Bowl and connect with communities in authentic ways will continue to build relationships beyond the off-season.