How has the role of social media evolved in relation to massive sporting events?

Fans are very open to relevant messages and experiences that tie brands and their teams and athletes together.

Budweiser’s Puppy Love Super Bowl commercial
Budweiser’s Puppy Love Super Bowl commercial

Peter DeLuca, SVP of brand communications, T-Mobile USA,
@pjdeluca
The role of social media has become a critical marketing tool at T-Mobile. It provides great opportunities for relevant customer engagement around key sponsorship initiatives, such as sporting events.

We have advanced the use of sports integrations, such as Major League Baseball, the Seattle Seahawks, the Super Bowl, and athletes to help broaden the reach of our Uncarrier message.

Fans are very open to relevant messages and experiences that tie brands and their teams and athletes together.

T-Mobile has capitalized on this user behavior in order to get the most out of our sports marketing partnerships. Social posts, Twitter takeovers, on-site integrations, and signed merchandise are all designed to maximize our points of engagement.

We leverage our relationships with athletes to help bring to life our new marketing campaigns in ways traditional media can’t achieve. It provides an immediate burst of engagement and amplifies our message within a 24- to 48-hour period.

Our engagement efforts have evolved. We staff up for live sporting and entertainment events as we see volume increase upward of 200% to 500%, with a shift in focus from general customer support to brand integration and follower engagement. 

This year’s Super Bowl efforts are a perfect example of how we take a 360-degree approach to our marketing efforts. We employed social to help tease, launch, and sustain our message throughout the 10 days surrounding the event. Paid social helped complement our organic channels and doubled our engagement levels through strategic placements, keywords, and content drivers.

During the game, we pushed unique social content, engaged in real-time conversations, and created content on the fly based on trending topics and other brand activities. It made the day even more relevant and fun.

Matthew Haynes, VP, Microsoft social and digital strategies,
Waggener Edstrom
mhaynes@waggeneredstrom.com

Social media has become entwined with sporting events as a way for people to share the experience together. It has created a real-time connection point between fans, writers, analysts, and athletes to share their opinions, thoughts, and content prior to, during, and after the big game.

In major events such as the Super Bowl and Olympics, social media plays an increasingly important role as part of a cross-platform and cross-device experience for people to view, consume, and share content.

Social media has changed how brands extend their reach and engagement with consumers beyond the span of a 30-second commercial during these events.

Take H&M for example. Prior to this year’s Super Bowl, the company primed the buzz around the game to tease portions of its commercial across social channels. It engaged fans early by asking them to vote on which version they would like to see aired during the game, drumming up interest and a personal stake in the final output.

By now, everyone is familiar with the timely tweet from Oreo during last year’s Super Bowl blackout. While this single act put real-time marketing on the map, it showed the opportunity for brands to leverage existing and emerging platforms as a way to share in a major moment in a relevant way.

Social media also provides unprecedented access to athletes from an insider’s perspective. To that end, the evolving role of social continues to bring sports fans closer to the teams and events they are passionate about.


Lucas Herscovici, VP, digital marketing, Anheuser-Busch
@luhersco
Thanks to social media, we have more opportunities to connect with consumers before, during, and after the game. Anheuser-Busch has always been a leader in Super Bowl advertising and we believe our social media strategy is no different.

Whether it was beer drinkers showing that they are #Upforwhatever with Bud Light or a #Salute recognizing our troops coming home, consumers engaged with our brands beyond watching TV.

The Super Bowl marked an important social milestone as Budweiser’s Puppy Love Facebook post accrued more than 1 million likes and counting. 

Through likes and sharing, the effort reached more than 25 million consumers on Facebook. The subsequent #BestBuds hashtag had so many fans proactively sharing photos of their pets that it was the top trending brand hashtag before, during, and after the game.

Video content played a key role in reaching consumers outside of the broadcast. Through its strategic pre-release, Puppy Love [above] received more than 30 million views on YouTube before the spot even aired. Between the ads and supporting content, Budweiser and Bud Light were the brands with the most YouTube views.

Our integrated strategy paid off – not only were our ads audience favorites, but they also connected with people in social media more than ever. Most importantly, research shows that reach and engagement drives sales and brand health, so social was vital to our Super Bowl business objectives.

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