3 Steal-Worthy Twitter Event Marketing Strategies We've Learned from Brands During the Super Bowl

 
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If you’re anything like me, the Super Bowl is a time for kicking back with tons of beer and wings and watching commercials with friends. Ok, also sports. A light side of sports. Just as some padding for the halftime show, you know?

Whether you’re a die-hard Rams fan, would take a bullet for Tom Brady, or literally could not care less (like me), we can all agree that huge-budget, high-hijinx, star-powered advertising is king when it comes to brand clamoring at the big game.

There is, however, another, quieter platform that performs amazingly well for brands during all the footballing and whistle-blowing and beer-drinking.

Twitter, a sometimes unassuming social network, enjoys an annual average increase of 19% in unique visitors during the Super Bowl, while every other social app sees a sharp decline.

While you’d be hard-pressed to find one of the main advertisers not also pushing some major Twitter content, the platform gives other cash-smart companies who aren’t willing to shell out the minimum $4.5 million for a TV ad the chance to capitalize on the action.

And capitalize they do, with some of the most memorable brand Super Bowl moments ever happening on the platform. Some of the antics I’ve seen over the past few years’ games have been so good, I’ve gotta say— they’re totally worth stealing.

Even without the influx of visitors brought on by the big game, these Twitter strategies are a total win when you need to give your event promotion a little boost ahead of your own personal Super Bowl.

1. Volvo Interception, Super Bowl XLIX: Leverage other brands to promote your own

According to Volvo’s ad agency, Grey, despite being a “ well-known and respected brand globally, Volvo was suffering from low awareness in the U.S., one of its largest markets.” The car company wasn’t willing to take on the huge financial commitment of a gametime ad, so they tapped Grey to help them find a way to remain top-of-mind without actually being on anyone’s screen.

 
 

The brand’s promo, “The Greatest Interception,” asked fans to tweet their hashtag #VolvoContest— with a big caveat. In order to enter the contest, the tweets had to come in during another car brand’s commercial. So why bother?

The prize was a brand new Volvo XC60 luxury crossover, and not for the Tweeter themself. Participants were asked to nominate someone who inspires them to win the grand prize. In an introductory video, Volvo said “While other car companies are showing you what matters to them, we want to know who inspires you, who moves you, who matters most to you.”

The wholesome competition drew in more than 50,000 total tweets, and the hashtag saw major spikes during every TV car-commercial of the night.

So how can you make this your own in your event marketing?

Leveraging other companies’ or events’ mindshare for a Twitter contest is an easily replicable tactic— but you don’t necessarily have to go negative.

Creating a Twitter contest using a hashtag like #thebestthingIheardat[competitive event] could be a great way to snag attention, gain positive sentiment, and learn a little more about what your attendees like at the events the invest in.

That is to say— cook up an awesome grand prize, and find the right audience by seeing who’s engaging with the competition. You’ll get attention from the kinds of people you want and spark up plenty of interest in your own event.

2. Oreo Dunk in the Dark, Super Bowl XLVII: Capitalize on big moments to create conversations

Allow me to take you back to February 3rd, 2013. The 49ers are playing the Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the ultimate football-dudes title in Super Bowl XLVII. Suddenly, the worst happens; the power goes out in the stadium, leaving thousands of attendees in the dark and creating a never before-seen phenomenon for viewers at home: total silence.

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You see, with ad premiums insanely high and air time in huge demand, you’d be lucky to catch a nano-second of silence between gameplay and ad-space in a typical Super Bowl game. So when the lights went out and the producers were like…. ¿?... there was nothing for viewers at home to watch but…. dead air.

Oreo and their ad partners at 360i must work at an unbelievable pace, because about 1 minute after the darkness started, they had made a simple but effective tweet to capitalize on the moment.

With an insanely simple message, “you can still dunk in the dark,” and what could only be described as a thrown-together graphic to accompany it, the brand slapped it out into the twittersphere at exactly the right moment— and almost instantly went viral. So what made it explode?

Timing.

While I can’t prove this, per se, I think we could all agree there was no singular moment, Super Bowl or otherwise, that could have made any tweet go as viral as this one did. Not even if you posted a video of Chris Hemsworth rolling around shirtless with a gang of puppies in a field made of oreo crumbles.

The effectiveness of dunk in the dark came from the simplicity of the message, delivered as an acknowledgement of what was happening right then, in that moment, for millions of people. To break it down:

  1. Everyone who was watching the Super Bowl understood and could relate

  2. Twitter was already seeing a traffic spike while viewers engaged in conversations about the blackout

  3. The message was simple, accurate, and funny

  4. The brand’s presence within the conversation felt like a continuation of the expected advertising activity from the Super Bowl.

So what can we take away from this?

Before anyone comes at me with “but my industry doesn’t have a Super Bowl,” let’s keep in mind that Oreo’s industry doesn’t either. It’s about finding relevance in trending events, and engaging in timely conversations around those big moments.

And while Oreo’s timing was decidedly a stroke of luck, you can actually manufacture your own serendipity with a little bit of planning.

With some pretty basic searching, you can see what’s going to be happening in the world over the next weeks and months. Movie premiers, album releases, political events, holidays, product launches, and major events (think Apple’s special events) are all opportunities for you to slide into existing Twitter conversations and capitalize on the action.

Just make sure to keep your message relevant to the event— for example, if a new Avengers movie is coming out and you run an event around cyber security, you could create a social series around the messaging “Smart like Iron Man, strong like Thor; it’s time to beef up your online security.”

Sure, the two aren’t technically related, but referencing the movie allows you to join a conversation you otherwise have no business in, use the appropriate hashtags, and introduce yourself to an audience who, let’s face it, are probably already a pack of nerds.

3. Twitter #BrandBowl, Super Bowl LIII: Give your audience a place to go to have a conversation

At this point, Twitter is well aware that they are the social media network for Super Bowl fans (a demographic that includes three monster individual bases: ad fans, snack fans, and football fans).

While pretty much everyone is more or less satisfied with having a jumbled, yet somehow-we’re-all-talking-about-the-same-thing conversation under the general hashtags like #SuperBowl, #SuperBowlLIII, and #PepsiHalftimeShow, Twitter decided to bolster it’s own ad platform by creating the #BrandBowl, a place for all things Super Bowl ads.

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The activation itself was twofold. First, the #BrandBowl was an awards contest for advertisers, encouraging them to leverage a Twitter ad scheme along with their TV commercials, or try to “intercept” the conversation from other brands on Twitter. This was cool and effective for the Twitter ad platform, the brands, and the ad agencies involved, but less relevant to the general public, so we’ll leave it at that.

Second, and more interestingly, users could “sign up” (by tweeting to @TwitterMktg) for ad updates during the big game. Twitter would notify users when the ad was happening, and then shoot them a Twitter video link to watch it after the fact. This gave cord cutters, poor Millennials, and distracted viewers an opportunity to get in on the ad action, and consequently have targeted conversations around each specific ad and the ads in general.

Yeah yeah, I know what you’re thinking— this sounds like we’re just saying you should create a hashtag. And while, yes, that’s part of it, it’s more about creating a destination for specific conversations.

I’ll use my own world as an example: the best places to talk about events on Twitter are #events, #eventtech, and #eventpros. None of the three are particularly active, and none of the three are particularly curated. There’s no real problem with these tags, though one could argue they’re far from specific enough to gain real traction.

So what’s better about #BrandBowl? Well, here’s the thing: it was a Twitter chat. I know that doesn’t sound right, since Twitter chats are sort of old school, but hey, this was just lipstick on a pig. And it worked.

In order to create a conversation, they used a hashtag that specifically referenced both the Super Bowl and ads/brands. They gave it a specific time (during the game) and released talking points (consecutive ads) throughout the duration of the chat, keeping the conversation going and letting users know when to be active in order to participate.

This is a super-replicable phenomenon, believe or or not. The best use-case, of course, is during your event— you can create more interest in next year’s iteration by creating a Twitter chat around this year’s active event. Promote the chat in advance, and release speaker video highlights, updates from sponsors and participants, etc as they come. Encourage conversations and bridge the gap between online and IRL by filming attendees answering the same questions you’re asking on Twitter. Have a community management team on board dedicated to responding to tweeters, asking good questions, and maintaining the conversation.

While this may seem like you’re giving a lot away for free, if you’re catching great moments and generating buzz, it will only serve to attract more attendees to your event next year.

Alternatively, you can use Twitter chats to address specific current events, taking a cue from both Oreo and the Brand Bowl. For instance, when new US Tax law hit the events industry, a timely Twitter chat with experts to help answer questions and to share information could have been a big boon for Swoogo. Hindsight’s clearer than a crystal ball though, aint it?

No matter how you choose to activate, if brands have taught us anything it’s that Twitter is not a platform to sleep on. Just keep in mind that promotion on the network has to be relevant to what the platform is known for and best at: having conversations. Simply leaving a tweet asking people to come to your event out in the Twitter ether isn’t going to get you anywhere— but with these tactics in mind, you can still use the network to totally kill it.

 
Molly Falco