Friday, January 30, 2015

How To Avoid a Fumble With Your Brand's Super Bowl Social Media Engagement

Every year, brands roll out the big social media guns on Super Bowl Sunday. And every year, a brand or two get a touchdown, most brands are largely ignored, and some end up investing time and effort in poorly conceived strategies that give those brands a notch in the "Loss" column.

This post may be too late, since brands that intend to engage in "real-time marketing" (RTM) this Sunday have been preparing for months. In some respects, even before the kickoff or the first Super Bowl tweet, the die is already cast--the libraries of tweets, posts and images are all awaiting the right moment to be "spontaneously" broadcast. There's no turning back now, but if there is a shred of chance I might positively impact some brands' plans and help them to avoid a big, messy, public misstep this Sunday, I would like to try to help.

Below are ten tips to help your brand prevent a fumble. I hope you will find all of the tips to be worthwhile, but if I was going to give just one tip, it would be this: Don't do RTM during the Super Bowl. I know, I know--every brand wants to be Oreo (whose "dunk in the dark" post has become the gold standard of RTM) or Arby's (whose Pharrell's hat tweet "won" the Grammys), but the fact is that RTM remains a risky tactic. Brands attempting to hijack consumer conversation about the Super Bowl should not be surprised if their customers resent the advertising-like intrusion.

Even if you "succeed," that impact may be modest at best. It can be easy to get swept up into the excitement of retweets and shares, but those are not true measures of business success. Last year, Samsung was said to hit it big with its Oscar RTM, but despite Publicis CEO Maurice Levy's claim it delivered Samsung a billion dollars of value with a single celebrity selfie, Samsung's smartphone market share slipped 25% from Q3 2013 to Q3 2014.

If your strategy for Super Bowl tweeting and posting is designed to change consumers' perception or purchase intent, go for it, but if all you intend to do is measure RTs and likes, then your strategy may be offsides before the snap. So, if your brand absolutely must tweet and post during the Super Bowl, here are ten tips to help it improve engagement and minimize the risks:

  1. Don't insert your brand into every post/tweet during the Super Bowl. Let your intent speak louder than your content.
  2. During the Super Bowl, don't robo-tweet identical tweets to numerous different people. That's just annoying.
  3. Don't pathetically ask for retweets. Your brand should earn shares, not beg for them.
  4. During the event, talk with people. Don't just broadcast to them. Listen--really listen. Don't just make "engaging in their conversation" a euphemism for spam; be real about it.
  5. I know you want to get noticed and have your brand appear in the Twitter searches consumers will be using during the game, but avoid inserting consumers' hashtags into your branded posts. Don't be Super spammy during the Super Bowl.
  6. During the event, if you have nothing pertinent to say, shut up. Don't tweet just because you want impressions. Be relevant or be quiet.
  7. Even though spontaneity matters, have multiple eyes on your Super Bowl tweets. Don't inadvertently embarrass the brand because one community manager fails to realize they are posting something that others may consider offensive or insensitive. Make it a real-time team effort!
  8. Don't tweet both personally and for your brand during Super Bowl. Focus--if you're working, then dedicate your full attention to the professional task at hand. Moreover, avoid the mistake of tweeting to the wrong account, a mistake that has cost more than a handful of social media marketers their jobs.
  9. Don't pre-schedule posts. A lot can happen during the Super Bowl, both on and off the field.  Don't get caught posting tone-deaf tweets and posts that do not reflect and align to what is happening at the University of Phoenix Stadium or the world at large in the moment. 
  10. Your Super Sunday social strategies should be as much about preventing problems as they are about promoting the brand. If you are not as prepared to deal with potential backlash as you are with going viral, then get prepared fast. Don't be stumbling in a critical moment trying to figure out your brand's tone for backpeddling in the event one of your posts or tweets annoys a number of your prospects and customers.

All of these tips can be summed up in this way: Remember that consumers' social conversations are not a marketing channel, no matter what your CMO thinks. You wouldn't interrupt two strangers watching a game in a sport bar to yell, "Hey, our brand is really funny and you should eat our burgers!" Approach your RTM with the same respect for others' conversations that you would in any real-life social situation, and your brand will minimize the risks and avoid mistakes.

On Monday, I believe we will be talking as much about the RTM failures and embarrassments as the successes. Follow these tips, and your brand is more likely to be among the latter than the former.


Hal Thomas said...

Will we be adding our own color commentary again this year on the hashtag #RTMsucks?

Augie Ray said...

I'm tempted to say no--we've done that before (multiple times) but you know we'll see some brand do something dumb and get sucked into that conversation anyway. :)

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