Every year at this time, people begin talking about the Super Bowl. Not the actual game, mind you. The ads. Super Bowl advertising has become a phenomenon of its own, complete with parties themed around the ads instead of the game. And as advertisers try to get more ROI from the millions they spend for each 30-second ad, they’ve turned to the Internet. Today, the Super Bowl ad season starts weeks in advance, and lasts well past the final whistle. It involves multiple screens – from your computer to your TV to your phone. And it involves multiple channels including YouTube and Twitter.

Twitter Spikes Facebook Super Bowl Hashtag

Twitter was huge during the 2013 Super Bowl, generating 24 million tweets, over 5 million on the half-time show alone. At one point, Twitter was seeing 20,000 game-related tweets-per-minute. 50% of the commercials during the game mentioned Twitter, while 33% of the brands used a hashtag to focus discussion after the spot aired. Facebook was only mentioned in 8% of the commercials.

Why would Facebook be so far behind? Well, it’s easy to draw comparisons between target-demographics and such, but really it’s about immediacy. Ad folks know how Facebook tinkers with news feeds and how people view their feeds a few times a day to catch up, but Twitter is pure and immediate. It’s the first step towards the eventual chain of events that ends with that email from your grandma sharing the ad six months after it went viral.

Superbowl Social Media

Get in the Game

Brands are taking advantage of massive viewership and TV spots during the game to instantly communicate with people digitally and push brand awareness further. A great opportunity presented itself last year when the stadium mysteriously and suddenly went black. Within minutes, Oreo, Tide and M&Ms all tweeted or shared ads specifically mentioning the blackout. The timeliness became notable enough that these ads had a miniature viral moment. Again, it was about immediacy.

Some companies may not feel they have a use for social media, or particularly for real-time social media such as Twitter. They might want to rethink that. Being able to add your brand’s voice at a moment’s notice through the go-to, instant-information source is what brings key value to social media. Just because you may not have the staff to support a full-blown social media effort doesn’t mean you should ignore it entirely.

The trends show that Twitter especially has become where people go for immediate news, timely updates and conversation. It’s crucial you take advantage of that and take part in conversation about your brand, especially for damage control if needed. It’s not all about Twitter, though.

Augment Those Ads

It’s likely you haven’t let your smartphone or tablet out of your sight for years now. That means brands are starting to find ways to take advantage of those extra screens. Emerging tactics include ads with additional content beyond the commercial itself. Whether the ads encourage a hashtag for tweets, visiting a website for more information or hitting YouTube for the extended commercial, they’re becoming more and more pervasive.

Super Bowl Tweet It’s no longer enough to just have a creative ad. The value comes from spurring conversations on Twitter, comments on YouTube and shares on Facebook. It’s engineered virality at its finest. The CDC should issue a warning.

It’s important to remember, however, that any successful effort to extend your advertising from one medium to another relies on a compelling message. It does no good to end a TV commercial with “Continued at…” if your creative is so boring that no one cares enough to follow the message to its next destination.

Benefits for Everyone

If you’re interested in bulking up your marketing, watch what some the best agencies in the world do come game day – and after. It’s an exhibition of forward-thinking digital ideas. And these ideas trickle down, not just to those with the money to spend on Super Bowl spots. The takeaway is that the most successful campaigns use multiple channels to drive traffic online where conversations can lead to conversions. And that’s good business no matter what size company you have.

Follow Along

For some pre-game sneak peeks of the 2014 Super Bowl ad showcase, check out this online compilation from AdAge. And don’t forget to follow along on Twitter with hashtag #SuperBowl for all the latest game and advertiser updates.