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Social Bowl XLVII: Why a Mid-Sized Firm or Small Business Must Play Its Own Game This Sunday

Social Bowl XLVII: Why a Mid-Sized Firm or Small Business Must Play Its Own Game This Sunday Katie Fetting
Last year, 111.3 million people watched the Super Bowl – the largest audience ever. And according to NBC, 2.1 million people watched the game live online.  Add that to the masses following the game on social media and you have a nice chunk of engaged fans.

According to Forbes, current reports plug ad prices at $3.8 million, and that’s just the cost of air time. Ad budgets for Super Bowl commercials can run as high as $5 million per 30-second spot.

Most mid and small-sized companies can’t afford to blow $9 million on a spot that doesn’t guarantee a great ROI. If you’re looking to maximize your advertising dollars this Sunday, the place to spend that cash is online.

Social media has a lower financial barrier to entry and seemingly endless opportunities. Even the NFL is using social media to evaluate Super Bowl ads’ ROI. The NFL’s Head of Sales Seth Winter says social media improves an ad’s TV value, allowing them to charge more. So why not start with social if you can’t afford the TV kit and caboodle?

Where to spend your money: Twitter

In the final moments of last year’s game, Twitter interaction was averaging over 12,000 tweets per second.  PER SECOND.  And the grand total for Super Bowl related tweets?  13.7 million.

Known as a “second screen” experience, the audience watches conventional media while using new media to comment on/interact with it. And do you know who’s monitoring Twitter on Super Bowl Sunday?  All of those enormous in-game advertisers. For real time feedback, they turn to the social media network.

(Interesting aside: With social media, you may not even lose an impression due a pit stop: according to the Nielsen report, 32% of people use social networking in the bathroom.)

Option 1: Promoted Tweets

Just in time to collect your Super Bowl dollars, Twitter made improvements to Promoted Tweets:  You can now target negative keywords.  Their example: “If you sell bacon, you can now keep your campaigns more than six degrees apart from Kevin Bacon by using ‘Kevin’ as a negative keyword.”

You can also target your promoted Tweets to geographic regions’ (a great option for brick and mortar businesses) existing follower base and gender.

But the best thing about Promoted Tweets?  You only pay when people play.  From Twitter: “Promoted Tweets are priced on a Cost-per-Engagement (CPE) basis, so you only pay when someone retweets, replies to, clicks or favorites your Promoted Tweet.”

Option 2: Sponsored hashtags

Also known as Promoted Trends, a sponsored hashtag will appear at the top of Twitter’s Trending Topics list at the left of a user’s feed.

Anecdotal evidence for their efficacy – at least for bigger brands – is positive.  For example, Coke used a promoted tweet during the 2010 World Cup and snatched 86 million impressions with a 6% engagement rate.

Today, the price tag of a 24-hour sponsored hashtag is around $120,000, though Twitter is expected to hike that cost for this year’s Bowl.  It’s a bargain when you consider your brand will stay in the spotlight for 24 hours (compared to a 30 second TV spot).

Sponsored hashtags also appear on mobile devices, Tweetdeck and Hootsuite, making them a good choice for folks tweeting in front of their flatscreens.

As with any social or viral marketing campaign, you do not control the interaction.  It is important to consider that the hashtag takes on a life of its own.  Some of your feedback may be negative.

And for those of you truly looking for a bargain, you can get ahead of the game and capitalize on tags that you KNOW will be trending in 2013, #ManofSteel, #IronMan3 and #Hangover3 are all pretty safe bets.  You can also check out hashtag search engines like Tweet Archivist or Tweet Charts to see what people are talking about most.

Option 3: Promoted accounts

A promoted account won’t be visible on everyone’s Twitter page, but it allows for greater targeting of potential customers. Twitter’s algorithm recommends a user follow your account if they fit a specific profile (based on who the user is publicly following), resulting in less wasted coverage.

Like Promoted Tweets, you only pay for interaction –when someone follows your account. You decide how much you want to spend per day or new follower, and you can geo-target. If you want to be seen by a specific niche, you need to go follow those people first.  Followerwonk is a great place to start.

Where to spend your money: Facebook

Are people really looking at their Facebook pages during the big game?

Allfacebook.com studied the wall posts of more than 1,400 brands during game time and found that engagement during the Super Bowl soared 60 percent.

Not unexpectedly, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg maintains advertising on Facebook is better than advertising on television.  Facebook’s daily traffic is over three times greater than Super Bowl viewership.

Option 1: Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads allow you to select a page or piece of content you’d like to promote. Facebook has greater targeting dexterity than Twitter, allowing you to select from a number of demographic categories, including location, age, gender and interests. You set your campaign budget and are charged every time someone sees your ad or sponsored story. Then choose whether you’d like to optimize for engagement, impressions or clicks.

If a mid-sized or small business elects to go with Facebook Ads, it may want to create some pieces of quality Super Bowl-centric content to promote on Game Day.  Craft the message for your target market and select the demographic filters that correspond.

Option 2: Facebook Apps

More expensive but great for brand building, Facebook apps allow you to more fully engage with a customer base, often via a contest, game or service. It also enables an advertiser to control a corner of the social media juggernaut, increasing user engagement rates.

With highlights like automatic bookmarking, newsfeed stories and a notifications API, Facebook apps are front and center for engaging potential customers. Once you reach 10 active users, your app will be automatically included in the Facebook search index. Facebook Insights also allows you to accurately track user engagement and referral traffic.

While posting your app to Facebook is free, building it can cost anywhere from $500 to tens of thousands of dollars.

The takeaway

“Playing your own game” is about forging a relationship with your customer base on your terms.  Mid-sized or small businesses should grasp the opportunity to capitalize on a trending, water cooler topic like the Super Bowl. For anyone who’s not Coke, the smart money’s online, where you’ll have time to build a brand identity. One that stands a chance against a talking gecko and some Clydesdales.

Now it may be too late to implement a strategy for the Super Bowl – it IS on Sunday – but there’s still a little time to capitalize on the celebrity Super Bowl: the Oscars air on Sunday, Feb. 24.

A version of this post first appeared on the Portent, Inc. blog.

Katie L. Fetting is the Senior Copywriter at Portent, Inc., a digital marketing agency located in Seattle, WA.  She earned her marketing degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has written for a wide swath of websites, newspapers...

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