What Football? Social Media Stole the Show at Super Bowl XLVIII

Source: Josh Denmark / Flickr

Sorry, Peyton Manning, but the football played during Super Bowl XLVIII was kind of a bore. The tweeting that went on behind the scenes, though? Now that was worth following.

It’s no secret that many Americans look forward to the the big game on the first weekend of February not only for the football and food that accompany it but also for the commercials. The biggest advertisers in the game have been known to drop millions of dollars for just 30 seconds of airtime, and they usually employ their time wisely. This year, however, companies’ advertising stardom even outlasted their 30-second time slot, because many succeeded in continuing the conversation on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) following their commercials via suggested hashtags.

Don’t believe us? Look up Coke’s (NYSE:KO) #AmericaIsBeautiful trending hashtag on Twitter or Budweiser’s (NYSE:BUD) #BestBuds. Both companies churned out popular — albeit controversial — commercials on Sunday, and the dialogue following their face time lasted long after the clock ticked down at MetLife Stadium.

Consumers weren’t the only ones getting involved in the Twitter chatter: Representatives from the brands were also causing the hashtag #BrandBowl to trend for most of the night. According to the Wall Street Journal, nearly 60 percent of commercials included a hashtag to drive the conversation online, and of the roughly 24.9 million game-related tweets that were sent during the telecast, a significant portion of the conversation was by brands or about brands.

These days, brands on Twitter really have to stand out if they want to earn tweeters’ attention or get their hashtags trending. Social media experts have to think outside the box and take risks if they want consumers to take notice, and a number of companies proved their Twitter prowess this past weekend. One such company was J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP), the struggling retailer that has suffered slow sales and several rounds of job cuts as of late.

J.C. Penney’s business situation may be serious, but the company was all jokes on Sunday night as it played with the campaign #TweetingWithMittens, a salute to the cold weather and an effort to sling the mittens the retailer is selling for the upcoming Winter Olympics. J.C. Penney sent out two jumbled tweets with misspelled words and faulty punctuation, leading many to believe the company’s social media director was drunk, but a representative from the company later said, “Yes, this was intentional,” confirming that the tweets were a part of a “planned social media stunt.”

Even Coors (NYSE:TAP) and Snickers got in on the #TweetingWithMittens action, the Wall Street Journal reports. Snickers responded to J.C. Penney’s jumbled tweets encouraging Twitter users to eat something (read: candy), saying, “You’re not you when you’re hungry,” while Coors couldn’t resist giving its input with “We know football goes great with Coors Light, but please tweet responsibly.”

So although the football during Super Bowl XLVIII wasn’t as exciting as many people bargained for, the social media conversation that followed the game, as directed by brands, arguably made up for it. Last year, 24.1 million game-related tweets were sent during the telecast; this year, that number was up to 24.9 million. Thanks to the growing popularity of social media and the number of companies and brands that have jumped on board, it is expected that that number will now only rise further.

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