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Super Bowl

Here's How Brands Should Create Their Real-Time Super Bowl Strategy for Twitter

Plan for the unexpected moments

Successful real-time marketing for the Super Bowl demands preparation. Illustration: Yuliya Kim

Brands have a number of new ways to interact with followers on Twitter this year, including event targeting, Promoted Moments, Periscope livestreams, Periscope video within promoted tweets and conversational ads. And while using the platform for paid and organic engagement might be considerably less expensive (but not always cheap) than a Super Bowl spot, they will be competing with plenty of others for the seconds in between plays.

Halftime show sponsor Pepsi will be front and center with both a Promoted Moment and a Promoted Trend on the day of the Super Bowl that it will use to showcase exclusive behind-the-scenes content during the game. Other brands like Verizon, Kia, ButterfingerLG and BMW are all planning content that harnesses a number of the new Twitter products launched in the past year. 

So how should brands that want to tackle Super Bowl tweets strategize this year?

Dave Pattillo, Twitter's director of sales, said the "anatomy of the Super Bowl" falls into three distinct categories: predictable moments, anticipated moments and unexpected moments. Prior to joining Twitter in 2013, Pattillo spent 10 years running sales across the U.S. for the NFL while working on other initiatives such as helping launch the NFL Network. He said brands that prepare for these three things before the game will be more likely to be rewarded with interesting and relevant content in real time.

The conversation around the Super Bowl on the platform has grown every year. According to Twitter, there were nearly 29 million tweets around the game in 2015, a 21 percent increase in volume from the year before. Of those tweets, more than 3.5 million mentioned brands that ran TV commercials. (Twitter says that number doesn't include tweets about brands that didn't have in-game commercials.)

"We know that these moments happen," Pattillo said. "There's a normal cadence to every football game. A lot of brands take advantage of that, and there are great opportunities for them to focus and tell great stories."

Predictable moments

The most obvious points to prepare for are what Pattillo calls the "predictable moments"—such as the coin toss, the halftime show and timeouts. Everyone knows these things will happen, so brands need to decide ahead of time how they want to distinguish themselves.

"You don't want to just jump in on Saturday and Sunday," Pattillo said. "We're seeing brands starting to ramp up now, getting a cadence, getting a voice on Twitter, so when Saturday and Sunday happen, they've got a nice rhythm going. But they're absolutely planning ahead."

Anticipated moments

Brands should have plenty of versatile assets ready for a number of potential game scenarios. Prepare on-brand creative such that it will be easy to change copy on the fly. Everybody knows there will be fumbles, interceptions, maybe safeties. But how each of those will play is only known when they happen.

"Those are really creative, clever opportunities for brands to intercept those moments—no pun intended—at scale," Pattillo said.

Unexpected moments

The moments nobody saw coming can make for the biggest and longest-lasting rewards for brands that know how to capture them. (Everybody still remembers Oreo's famous "dunk in the dark" tweet from a few years ago.)

"We want to make sure that people don't discount those moments," Pattillo said. "Those are probably some of the biggest highlights, and people share that—and it's very social content."

Pattillo also said the brands that see a good return on investment are often the ones that take a few risks. 

"It's going to be very cluttered," he said. "I mean, there's just a lot of noise going on. And I think a lot of times brands are risk-averse and want to make sure they're not being too close to pushing the limits. What I would tell brands to do is to not be afraid to differentiate themselves and be different, and find that unique niche, if you will, on the platform."

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