10 Social Media Strategies for Super Bowl Marketing

10 Ways to Improve Visibility and Engagement During Your Next Super Bowl Marketing Campaign

It’s time to plan your Super Bowl influencer marketing campaigns. We are weeks away from Super Bowl LIII, which means social media is about to become one big, loud conversation about food, style, and football (because that’s what the Super Bowl is about on social).


The Super Bowl is one of America’s biggest holidays. Money magazine puts per-person spending for the Super Bowl smack-dab between Halloween and the Fourth of July. It is the second biggest eating holiday of the year, generating $14.1 billion in consumer spending. Surprisingly, the number of women tuning in to the Super Bowl is increasing. Women now account for 43 percent of Super Bowl viewers.


The Super Bowl is About Expectations

In a previous post, I talked a bit about why the Super Bowl is such a big deal. It all boils down to expectation. The Super Bowl is one of the few times we gather as a nation to celebrate greatness. Some of the greatest athletes in the world compete in this annual championship match to see who gets to walk away with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.


Of the 111 million viewers who tuned in to the Fox network to watch Super Bowl LI in 2017, fewer than half (43 percent) were actually there to watch the game. Twenty-four percent tuned for the legendary Super Bowl commercials, 15 percent showed up just to hang out with their friends who were watching the game, and 12 percent tuned in to watch Lady Gaga’s halftime show.

The idea that Americans watch the Super Bowl strictly for the football isn’t what’s reflected in the numbers. Heck, I watched Super Bowl LI and I only know three NFL players… and two of them weren’t even in the Super Bowl.  I and millions of other Americans (and about 40 million people who aren’t in the U.S.) watch the Super Bowl because it’s a fabulous, festive event that we hold every year on the first Sunday in February. It’s a winter holiday that celebrates excellence, tradition, and winning. What’s more American than that?


Game Day Marketing

For marketers, the opportunity to have the attention of more than 100 million viewers is golden. This may be the one time a year when people aren’t grabbing their phones and going to the bathroom when the commercials come on.

Big brands spent more than $385 million buying advertising time from Fox during Super Bowl LI, and $414 million on ads for Super Bowl LII. That number does not include production costs, which average more than $1 million per spot. Nor does it include pre-game promotion expenses.

Mary Scott, President of New York marketing agency, United Entertainment Group says she advises her clients to reserve 25 percent of the cost of their commercial slot on pre-game marketing.


Imagine that. In order for big brands to optimize the reach of their $5 million Super Bowl ads (which seems to be the unofficial cap for a 30-second spot), they need to create commercials on SOCIAL MEDIA (!!!) to make sure people actually pay attention to their television commercials.

They need news shows to give their viewers a sneak peek at the Super Bowl ad.

They need to release their ad to YouTube days before it airs on network television to prime the audience and get people interested in the darned thing.

They need to launch a parallel social media campaign that supports the TV spot and tracks audience response.

That’s because even with the Super Bowl ad, big brands often measure conversions the same way you do - with social engagement.

Likes, comments, branded hashtags, and custom links that let you know when someone has gone beyond liking your sponsored post and taken the next step to move further down into your sales funnel are important tools for measuring the ROI on the $5 million investment. And they will be important tools for you as well.

Marketers who rely on social media to reach their audience have a distinct advantage come Super Bowl time. More than 78 percent of Super Bowl watchers also engaged on social during Super Bowl 50. On Game Day, 60 million Facebook users generated 200 million posts, likes, and comments, while 38 million Instagram users generated 150 million posts, likes, and comments. User spent 350,000 combined hours watching Super Bowl LI ads on YouTube.


According to the Burston-Marstellar Super Bowl Survey, 60 percent of viewers and 87 percent of constant social media users (people who are either on social or checking their devices at least once an hour) say that in addition to the Super Bowl commercials, they are interested in finding all the extra Super Bowl content brands create and put on social.

They want to see commercials. Scratch that. They want to see awesome, light-hearted, inspiring, hilarious, clever commercials - content that makes them think, feel, and react.

Women make up the majority of online conversations about Super Bowl commercials. Among people 18 to 34 years old, women are doing 57 percent of the talking online about Super Bowl ads. Among users 35 to 54 years of age, women do 61 percent of the talking.

So our two big takeaways about Super Bowl marketing efforts is to create content specifically for social media that targets or includes women.

Imagine that. In order for big brands to optimize the reach of their $5 million Super Bowl ads (which seems to be the unofficial cap for a 30-second spot), they need to create commercials on SOCIAL MEDIA (!!!) to make sure people actually pay attention to their television commercials!


Ten Strategies That Will Give Your Super Bowl SMM Campaign Legs

Influence marketing is rarely about disrupting the status quo. Leave that to the startups. It’s more about bringing great ideas into existing conversations. But finding creative ways to join a conversation is where most brands (and people) need help. So, we want to provide you with a catalog of strategies you can use to make your influencer marketing campaign successful.


1. Use More Video

Most people prefer video to text. When done right, video is fast, engaging, and high in value. Current estimates say video accounts for more than 50 percent of all consumer Internet traffic right now. By 2020, video will account for 80 percent of all consumer Internet traffic.

Within the context of social media, video generates 1200 percent more shares than text and images combined. Across the board - from the baby crib to the C-suite - video is THE medium of choice for consuming content.

Take a look at the screenshot below of a post from Amazon of a snack stadium. The post, which is an Echo promotion, is actually a video. Not much happens in the video, but that’s not the point. The video got 1000 percent more views than the post got Likes - 28,810 views compared to 2,633 Likes.  


Unfortunately, a lot of marketers waste great opportunities to impact their audience by going the humdrum product placement route. The problem is, short of getting an endorsement of your product from a pop star, reality TV star, or other super influencer, a picture of someone just holding your product - however fancy your packaging may be - rarely moves anyone to follow you or buy. Videos expedite the purchase process.


2. Skip the Product Picture


People don’t mind seeing posts about products. They prefer them, in fact. Product posts consistently outperform both lifestyle posts and posts from celebrities. Sixty-five percent of the top-performing posts on Instagram feature products. But an unstyled picture of your product showing up in someone’s Instagram feed isn’t what they want.

The best way to craft a powerful, high-impact Instagram marketing campaign is to think about the story you want to tell. Whose eye do you want to catch? And how can you talk about your product in a way that’s visually engaging? Compare the two Instagram stories below.


Method is a line of biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning and personal care products. I’ve seen Method products at Target (my favorite neighborhood spot for getting globally-inspired home goods). Below is a screenshot of a section of Method’s Instagram page.

Compare that to the snippet below from Clorox’s Instagram page. To be fair, it looks like Method beat most of its competitors to the punch with Instagram. And I think Clorox is still figuring it out (call us!), but even with the content Clorox has already posted, there is a striking difference between Clorox’s “this is real life” theme on its page and Method’s “life in a slightly more perfect world” page (my designation, not theirs).

Instagram is about visual storytelling. And your product is certainly part of that story, but it shouldn’t be the entire story. Create a story around your product.


3. Or Make the Product Placement Absolutely Beautiful

There are brands that feature nothing but their products on Instagram and their pages get fantastic engagement. It’s rare, but sometimes the products themselves make absolutely stunning images. Enter Compartés  Chocolates.


The screen shot above is from the company’s Instagram account. Every single image on the Compartés page is of their product. But their products are so strikingly beautiful and the photos so well-styled, the pictures legitimately look like art.

I cross-referenced this page with the images on Godiva’s page to ensure I’m not just having a chocolate geek-out. I am a card-carrying member of Godiva’s rewards program. So I can tell you for sure I love Godiva, and I’ve never even tasted Compartés chocolate. Godiva’s page is pretty, but it elicits a completely different emotional response in me.

Compartés has figured out how to inspire awe, or the very least a good, heartfelt, “Wow.” Within seconds of being on the company’s branded Instagram page, I had already pulled up the store’s California address and moved on to their e-comm site to check out the shipping situation.

Then I asked myself, “When was the last time I took a trip to L.A. anyway?”, as if finding an excuse to fly 2,173.9 miles for a chocolate bar is acceptable, regardless of the amount of time that has passed. The point is: I now follow Compartés. I’ve priced their product, browsed the catalog and will likely place an order soon. Because their product pictures were simply breathtaking.


4. Or Make Your Product the Story

Mattel’s Barbie is the perfect example for this tactic. You may know a bit of Barbie’s story. She hangs out at the beach with her boyfriend, Ken. She has a niece that comes over to the beach house (or to Barbie’s dream house) when she’s taking time off from her job as a veterinarian and/or school teacher. But Barbie’s Instagram story is far more interesting.

I found Barbie’s Instagram page because there was this picture of her holding a Compartés chocolate bar and a drink on Compartés Chocolates’ page. When I saw the copyright stamp on the image, I realized the picture must have come from Barbie’s camp.


At 59 years young, Barbie has been the top-selling doll for decades. In 2016, Barbie manufacturer, Mattel rebounded from four steady years of declining doll sales by adding a more ethnically and culturally diverse selection of Barbie dolls to their lineup. The result was a seven percent boost in sales in 2016 and a return to billion-dollar sales in 2017.

There are actually two Barbie pages. The page for Barbie (@barbie) features Barbie in toyland. She is specifically positioned as a toy in these pictures. Some of the pictures include children playing with Barbie. This is the place to go to learn of news from Mattel about new products, discounts, and contests. The posts in this account generate between .5 percent and 1 percent engagement. The screenshot below is of the @barbie Instagram page, and features Barbie as a doll.

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Here is that same doll as the star of her own curated Instagram story (@Barbiestyle). The Barbie Style account puts Barbie, Ken, and their [doll] friends in seemingly realistic situations, like going out for coffee, taking Yoga, decorating the house, checking her tablet, and of course posting pictures of her outfits. The picture below features Barbie on the red carpet with dolls of U.S. Olympian @IbtihajMuhammad and model @theashleygraham.


Barbie’s followers engage with her lifestyle content at @BarbieStyle 3 to 5 times more than they engage with her product account.


And with good reason. Barbie slays. No question.


5. Or Make It Ultra-Targeted

I am a music snob. Classically trained violinist, jazz bassist and vocalist. I love music, but I sort of pride myself on listening to fantastic music. I don’t do terrestrial radio. So, when I am in the mood for music, looking for something to do, or looking to connect with other people like me,  I and my community of music snobs will immediately begin filtering out the riff raff by searching by tags like:






And other awesome, elitist tags.

Well, a great way for brands to get in front of the right audience is to deploy the use of elitist tags like those. Craft beer drinkers pride themselves on drinking craft beer. Vintage lovers and upcyclers have team spirit as well. Narrow your audience by using hashtags that only a knowing subset of your followers will actually use… and get more engagement. You can tailor your posts, and even refine your account (or create a second account) that specifically targets a smaller segment of your wider target audience.


6. Collaborate with Creative Influencers


Seek out the counsel of influencers who are already on Instagram doing something fantastic and unusual. More often, brands look for influencers who have the largest audience that includes their target demographic. But if the influencer’s authority doesn’t reach over into your niche, or their presentation is not powerful enough to prompt a view or double-tap, your influencer marketing campaign can disappear into a feed full of everyday posts.

That’s not what you want.

Partnering with an influencer like BaristArt© creator Michael Breach who has 102k followers may give your campaign a better chance at reaching more people than an influencer with 10 times more followers. You can check out some of Michael’s work @baristart, or check out the screenshot I took of his Instagram page below. Creativity gets eyes. The unusual gets shared. That’s what you want.  


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7. Gear Your Marketing Toward the Day After

It’s been 11 months since Super Bowl LII and the branded hashtags that promoted the event are still showing up in newly-created content. Heck, Lady Gaga showed up under newer Super Bowl branded tags for Super Bowl LI for more than a year.

The day after the Super Bowl may as well have been renamed Gaga Day because she absolutely dominated social media conversations about Super Bowl LI. What will people be talking about the day after Super Bowl LIII? And how can you craft a campaign that is a natural part of that conversation?


8. Create Sales and Use Discount Codes

Crafting promotions and using discount codes that are good the day before, the day of, and the day after the Super Bowl can help build goodwill with your target audience. Discount codes and tracking links are also good way to see your audience’s behavior, and assess the strengths and weaknesses of your funnel.

Ideally, you want your campaign to piggyback on the one thing on everyone’s mind - the Super Bowl.  Work with an infuencer who can help you brainstorm ideas that will strengthen your brand, increase brand awareness, and appeal to your target audience.


9. Create a Highlight Reel of Your YouTube Video

In one of our holiday posts, I talked about makeup artist and mega-influencer Patrick Starrr. Patrick has created a virtual library of makeup tutorials on YouTube.

Smartly, one of the ways Patrick generates tons of video views on Instagram (that leads to tons of traffic to his YouTube channel) is by creating full-length makeup tutorials on YouTube and publishing a sort of Cliff’s Notes version of the video to Instagram. He captions these types of posts with a link to where the full-length video lives on YouTube.

Super Bowl advertisers do the same sort of thing. Procter & Gamble crafted an amusing 30-second spot to promote Mr. Clean for Super Bowl LI. The company also released an extended cut of the commercial that was published to Mr. Clean’s YouTube channel. Adage.com describes the commercial this way: “The spot shows a woman turned on by a sexy animated version of Mr. Clean…”

A few days before the commercial aired during the Super Bowl LI, Ellen Degeneres aired a mash-up of the commercials with the movie trailer for the latest Fifty Shades movie and called her version starring Mr. Clean “Fifty Shades Cleaner.”

The picture of the snack stadium you saw earlier in the piece is actually a video clip from Amazon’s 60-second Super Bowl LI spot promoting the Echo.  In the screen shot, you see Alec Baldwin and rapper Missy Elliott looking on as former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino enjoys Baldwin’s snack stadium.


Product highlight reels are an effective way to grab 10 to 30 seconds of your target audience’s attention on Instagram. A good video - one that is relevant, engaging, and entertaining - gives viewers a compelling reason to find you elsewhere on the web. And that’s what you want.

Here’s a tip about Instagram behavior… Great photos get more likes than great videos. But great videos get more comments than great photos. Great videos also get more views than likes. Determining which action is the most important depends solely on your marketing strategy. So, it’s important for you to clearly identify your goals, as well as the metrics you’re going to use to determine whether you met your goals.

Also, consider posting later in the evening. Videos posted to Instagram at 9PM get 34 percent more engagement, according to Sprout Social.


10. Geo-target your campaigns

There are two aspects to geo-targeting your campaigns - location tagging your own posts and zeroing in on the location of your target customers.

According to Sprout Social, posts with location get 79 percent more engagement than those without. For brands, there are a couple of real benefits to adding your location to your campaigns.

Brick-and-mortar establishments get the benefit of being able to tell potential customers where they are. When Instagrammers Explore by location, you want your product, brand, and company to show up in search results.  For e-commerce brands, adding a location tag can help establish the accessibility (read, humanness) of your product or company.

Understanding where your customers live will give you better insight into who they are and how to market to them.

Great example: I recently picked up a copy of David Ogilvy’s iconic book, Ogilvy on Advertising and was stunned to find there were quite a few pictures of topless women in the black-and-white ads Ogilvy printed in his book. The book is brilliant. Ogilvy was brilliant. But the ads of the topless women were intended for European audiences because brands market differently to Europeans than they do to Americans. I’m American, so as wonderful as the advice in the book is, I keep this book off the coffee table. And no, I would not appreciate any company that uses a topless woman to promote its product.

Crafting a campaign to target a specific demographic can help you get better reach and more valuable engagement beyond just likes with your marketing campaign.

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The Wrap Up

During the Super Bowl, there was very little conscientious influencer marketing done by brands. Most of the content tagged with one of the Super Bowl tags (stuff like #ATLSB53 #sb52 #superbowl2017 #superbowlLII #superbowl53) are user-generated posts about audience experiences, the players, and the music. That means an opportunity exists for savvy brands to get in there and grab that audience.


If you want to work with influencers in 2019, you’re going to need a strategy

The Shelf is an influencer marketing company that designs and implements the highest performing campaigns in the lifestyle space (fashion, beauty, mommy, food, travel, home, DIY, health, and fitness). If you’re reading this post and wondering how to use Snapchat, Instagram, IGTV, Facebook and YouTube to breathe new life into your social media marketing, we’ve got you covered. Sign up for a demo to get your custom proposal.

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