Originally published in Campaign US.
I love a good Super Bowl game and party as much as anyone.
But I don’t expect to catch every play, because I know I will spend some of the game scrolling my social feeds for new content or checking in with my favorite influencers.
I’ve noticed even the most attentive fans do the same thing.
The Super Bowl is a two-screen experience. Audiences are watching the game, but they’re also on their phones — engaging with other fans and responding to plays or big moments on social media. Increasingly, those moments take place on TikTok and Instagram — which is why it’s so interesting that reports suggest Super Bowl advertisers are still bearish on using influencers in a holistic way, sidelining these executions to social media.
Every brand wants to stand out at the Super Bowl. Now that influencers have become the lifeblood of social media, the opportunity to make them the true stars of Super Bowl advertising, both in game day commercials and social campaigns, is being missed.
The influencer effect
Gone are the days when you would need to tune into the Super Bowl broadcast to see a game day commercial. Brands are teasing them on social ahead of time, with some posting the complete spots. Media channels compile them all. So, brands are already missing the exclusivity and timeliness that used to come with spending big for the big game.
A holistic approach to influencers surrounding the Super Bowl offers a way to get that back.
As influencers become more prominent, they are celebrities in their own right. Their understanding of their audience’s interests and behaviors is invaluable to brands, but often underutilized. Brands should give more trust and creative freedom to influencers and capitalize on their knowledge of their followers in a crowded moment for advertisers.
Using influencers in commercials is only the beginning of what’s possible. Brands can activate in a unique, standout way with an influencer on their personal channel, in line with their marketing goals. Or an influencer can create content for the brand reacting to the Super Bowl in real time. The spot airing during the game could even integrate seamlessly into an influencer approach, blurring the lines.
In all cases, influencers and their understanding of their audiences should lead the way — bridging the gap between the broadcast and the social media response in more authentic and organic ways.
TikTok is seeing a marked increase in users aged 35 to 54. For younger audiences that aren’t interested in football, these platforms offer a way to reach those people who may not be sitting in front of the big screen, giving them a new way to engage in a cultural moment. In this goal, influencers can light a way forward.
Making your standout social moment
Putting influencers in the center of a Super Bowl campaign might seem risky. But the benefits are potentially huge. Here’s what to keep in mind that will up your odds of success.
1. Go big or go home
Too often, social media marketing is discussed in terms of “minimum spend.” But breaking through, particularly when there’s so much competing content, means that the best way to stand out is to commit to investing in the idea. Consider tailoring different content to various influencers’ unique audiences, laddering up to the same brief.
2. Keep it simple
It’s tempting to load a brand’s various marketing, communications and social media needs into a single campaign resulting in multiple key messages and calls to action. During the Super Bowl, that urge is likely to be even stronger. But more isn’t always more in commercials or on social media — consumers will drop off if the message is muddled or feels too ad-like.
3. Expect the unexpected
For every Oreo-style “dunk in the dark” win there is a Pepsi “Refresh Everything” campaign that boasts huge engagement and awareness, but softens sales. Trying something new is risky. So, make sure the campaign is thoroughly planned — with enough lead time to give the best chance of success — while being flexible enough to allow influencers to react in real time as needed.
Influencer marketing isn’t right for every brand during the Super Bowl. But for those brave enough to make influencers a bigger part of an integrated campaign, there is an eager audience waiting.
On a day that thrives on big moments spreading online, influencers should be a bigger, more foundational part of brands’ plans for the big game.