Last year's Super Bowl was Twitter's most popular sporting event ever, with just over 24 million tweets recorded, according to the social network. That's more proof that smartphones and tablets have joined flat screen TVs and (of course) hot wings as necessary ingredients for enjoying the big game.
That "second screen" trend, fueled by the rise of social media, also means that Super Bowl XLVIII could bring added benefits for local companies using Twitter on Sunday. They can thank the Seahawks, said Adam Schoenfeld, CEO and co-founder of the Seattle-based social media measurement/analytics firm Simply Measured.
"It's a great opportunity, with the Seahawks playing in the big game, to kind of jump into the conversation if you're a local business," Schoenfeld said. "What's really exciting here is if you have no (marketing) budget and you're just following the conversation, willing to engage with people that are talking about the Seahawks, and it's all about your local audience, it's a great opportunity that doesn't come around every year, unfortunately."
Schoenfeld's company, which handles the team's social media account, already knows that the Seahawks can generate just as much volume on Twitter as they do at CenturyLink Field. Simply Measured analyzed Twitter mentions of all four teams playing in this year's NFC and AFC championship games and found the Seahawks leading the pack with just over 1.1 million mentions. Denver was a distant second with 840,000, followed by San Francisco with 702,000 and New England with 530,000.
That strong Seahawk support on Twitter means advantages for major local brands like Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon. Microsoft apparently wasted little time getting a Surface tablet into the hands of Seahawk safety Earl Thomas before the team left for New Jersey, and then promptly retweeted photos of him using the device. (Thomas thanked Microsoft in his tweets, and the company even worked up a special Legion of Boom background for the Surface).
The beauty of social media, however, is that small and midsize companies with a fraction of Microsoft's marketing budget can still build relationships with customers. They have to be as smart with their use of hashtags and @mentions as the Seahawks are in mixing runs and passes. That means organic, authentic conversations with customers that don't reek of spam, Schoenfeld said.
"If you drill down into the specific conversations about the Seahawks - you know, #gohawks and #12man - those are going to be where you'll find the local audience, and I think local businesses can really tap into that and be cheering on the Seahawks and engaging with their potential customers who are watching the game," said Schoenfeld.
Schoenfeld's team will be busy Sunday analyzing this year's Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media activity. Simply Measured will be looking for brands trying to leverage their own "Oreo moment." During last year's Super Bowl power blackout, the cookie company quickly tweeted out a picture of an Oreo in shadow with the text, "You can still dunk in the dark." The company enjoyed thousands of retweets and earned tons of free publicity.
"I think what we'll see is a record number of brands having some kind of social media integration with their TV ads, whether that's a hashtag on the screen, or a call to action to tweet, or some kind of engagement with their campaign on that second screen," Schoenfeld said. "I also think we'll see record volumes of total tweets, total activity, all the different hashtags getting used.
"Something crazy may have to happen during the halftime show, and then you know we could really see some spikes, but I think you'll see a lot of records."