Super Bowl XLIV turned out to be the most-watched TV program in history, according to Nielsen. The distinction comes at a time of unprecedented popularity for social media platforms, particularly Facebook and Twitter. So how does the U.S.'s biggest advertising stage affect the social media footprint of participating brands?
On Feb. 2, ClickZ recorded the number of Facebook "fans" and Twitter "followers" for each of the known advertisers heading into the game. A week later, our team pulled the numbers for the brands to see what kind of increases took place, and we now present the key results in chart form at the bottom of this article. Before-and-after statistics were not collected for surprise advertisers like Google and Skechers, as well as CBS "house advertisers" such as "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "CSI: Miami."
While only half of Super Bowl advertisers mentioned their commercials on Facebook or Twitter prior to the game, there is evidence that Super Bowl ads boosted some advertisers' social media accounts considerably. Interestingly, in our before-and-after tally of advertisers' Facebook "fans," four of the biggest winners used fictional characters in their TV spots while also creating dedicated "fan" and "follower" pages for those characters before the game.
As the chart below indicates, among the big winners on the social media spectrum were HomeAway's usage of movie character "Clark Griswold," Volkswagen's "Sluggy Patterson," E*Trade's continuation of the "talking baby" motif, and Monster.com's "Busy Fiddler/Fiddling Beaver" spot. In most cases the brands also incorporated a dedicated microsite.
Kathy O'Reilly, director of social media relations for Monster.com, explained that "by incorporating a dedicated Facebook page, Twitter account, and micro-site as part of the 'Fiddling Beaver' campaign, we were able to engage with folks before Super Bowl Sunday."
Surprisingly, brands that included Facebook or Twitter in their TV spots saw marginal gains. For example, Boost Mobile flashed icons for both social media sites during its commercial starring actress Megan Fox and increased "fans" by a modest 5 percent and "followers" by 2 percent.
Vizio showed the social media sites repeatedly (along with Flickr) on its spot, but only saw "fans" increase by 2 percent and "followers" by roughly 7 percent in the last week. It's worth mentioning that the TV manufacturer's ad gave more airtime to the Twitter brand than to Facebook.
Additionally, the Super Bowl spots seemed to help smaller brands like HomeAway and the nonprofits U.S. Census Bureau and Focus on the Family ramp up their social media games. When it came to raw numbers, big hitters like the National Football League, Budweiser, Taco Bell, and E*Trade all significantly grew their collections of "fans" and "followers" to complement the awareness their spots achieved.
One of the biggest gainers, Coke, was able to add nearly 390,000 new "fans" to its Facebook page. However Pepsi may have won the day in terms of getting the most buzz for its buck. The soda brand did not run a Super Bowl spot for the first time in 23 years, choosing instead to invest the money in an online philanthropy project, "The Refresh Project." In the last seven days, Pepsi was able to increase its Facebook "fans" from 307,000 to more than 515,000 - representing a larger percentage increase than Coke. However, it still trails its soda rival in a huge way -- with Coke now closing in on 5 million "fans."
While the level of apparent Super Bowl impact was far lower on Twitter than it was on Facebook, a few brands saw significant gains on the micro-blogging platform. HomeAway, U.S. Census Bureau, and Volkswagen were among them, each increasing "followers" by more than 20 percent in the last week.
|Top 10 Facebook Gains for Super Bowl Advertisers in the Last Week|
|Brand||Fans Before Super Bowl||Fans After Super Bowl||Change in Fans (%)|
|Focus on Family||15,310||18,968||23.89|
|Universal Studios/"Robin Hood"||2,549||3,129||22.75|
|Universal Studios/"Wolf Man"||37,284||45,547||22.16|
|EA Sports/"Dante's Inferno"||15,510||18,919||21.98|
|Top 5 Twitter Gains for Super Bowl Advertisers in the Last Week|
|Brand||Followers Before Super Bowl||Followers After Super Bowl||Change in Followers (%)|
|Top 10 Facebook Fan Increases for Super Bowl Advertisers in the Last Week|
|Brand||Number of New Fans|
|Roth Films/"Alice In Wonderland"||21,474|
|Paramount/"The Last Airbender"||20,632|
|Top 5 Twitter Follower Increases for Super Bowl Advertisers in the Last Week|
|Brand||Number of New Followers|
UPDATE: Due to a data-collection complication at press time, ClickZ was unable to report on Volkswagen's before-vs.-after Facebook presence. Upon further research, it's now apparent that VW picked up nearly 53,000 "fans" on the social media site - placing it fourth among all brands in terms of total numbers gained. The automaker reaped an 18.7 percent increase, going from around 283,000 "fans" to more than 336,000.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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