It’s almost here. The moment we’ve been working toward for months, putting in countless time and money, is finally just a few days away. The best of the best will be on display this Sunday.

I am, of course, talking about the Marketing Bowl, where the best advertising and marketing of the year takes center stage. I’m told there’s also a football game happening around that same time.

Related: 5 social trends that will impact marketers in 2017

The competition for marketers to shine on TV, online, and in social channels is as fierce as what we will see on the field. That’s why I got together with my fellow Social Media Strategist Kaitlin Shea to discuss strategies marketers, and specifically community managers, should focus on to capitalize on the event. We also occasionally took a few left turns to discuss our favorite aspects of the biggest sporting event of the year.

In addition to our responses below, you can hear us talk everything Big Game marketing on our podcast.

How Should B2B & B2C Brands Approach Marketing the Big Game?

NV: Most people think B2b marketers don’t have a place at the Big Game table. That’s simply not true. With an innovative, energetic approach, even regulated industries like finance and healthcare can win the day. Take Intuit Quick Books, for example. It is a B2B software company that markets to small businesses. So, what was its approach to the Big Game? Crowdsource commercial ideas from small businesses, use the best one and make a small note at the end that Intuit Quick Books supports small businesses. Not only did this approach fit its target audience, it increased engagement without a ton of production cost for a big-game commercial.

“The Super Bowl spot culminates a nearly year-long contest, called ‘Small Business Big Game,’ in which Quick Books gives one lucky small business a 30-second spot on the Super Bowl. Quick Books generates engagement throughout the contest as 10 finalists were announced on September and a top three in November. Using digital and social, Quick Books promotes the contest throughout the year on its website and on social platforms, such as its LinkedIn Company Page, to make sure the Super Bowl ad isn’t just a 30-second promotion – it’s part of months-long program.” – LinkedIn Marketing Blog

KS: If you are a brand who is B2C, choosing whether or not you want to take the plunge, fork out marketing dollars, and invest in a 30-second ad may be one thing, but it’s the aftermath of those 30 seconds that defines whether or not you “won” the hearts of 111.5 million viewers.

The best brands are experimenting with creative content to extend their audience reach and engagement beyond Sunday.

Prices to advertise during the super bowl have been climbing over the past decade, and as of #SB51, it means investing more than $4.2 million dollars for a 30-second spot. But let’s be honest, if you aren’t Budweiser, Snickers, Doritos, etc., you probably don’t have the money to invest and make bets on for one night and one moment – so what do you do? You get creative. Just because you might not have enough marketing dollars to make a “splash,” you still have the opportunity to play your cards right, and it all comes down to being strategic and finding the “white space” and the right moment for your brand.

The best brands are experimenting with creative content and social strategies to extend their audience reach and engagement way beyond Sunday and the TV screen. To truly see ROI from their advertising investments, marketers MUST find out-of-the-box ways to escape the sharp peaks and valleys of traditional campaign engagement during the actual Super Bowl. If you can do that and think beyond the big day, I would say you have won.

What is Your Favorite SB Ad (This year, last year, ever)?

NV: Marshawn Lynch Skittles pre-Super Bowl Commercial is GENIUS – This brand partnership was completely organic in creation, and Skittles has done a great job of keeping Lynch’s authenticity at the center of this ad.

Wix – Wix did a great job of creating excitement around making your small-business website with this cheeky spot.

Budweiser Puppy commercial is the 🐐

KS: Hmmm, this is a tough one considering I pretty much love anything that includes puppies…BUT I would have to say that the Snickers commercial from 2010 featuring Betty White takes the cake for me. P.S. Happy Belated (95th, but who’s counting) Birthday, Betty White! You will always be #GrandmaGoals in my eyes.

Let’s be honest, I couldn’t NOT feature puppies somewhere throughout this blog post, so I am going to leave this also amazing SB ad here. Only view it if you also love puppies.

What Unique Marketing Approaches Have Caught Your Eye?

NV: Snickers’ Facebook Live commercial might change the way we look at advertising forever. It is the first major brand that has the guts and resources to try this tactic, and if it works, Snickers will enter Oreo territory as an innovator in the Big Game.

If Snickers’ Facebook Live commercial works, the brand will enter Oreo territory as innovators in the Big Game.

KS: I definitely have to ditto Nick’s answer in regards to the Snickers’ live advertisement stunt. It isn’t just risky, it is also something no other brand has done before and I want to applaud them now, regardless of how it turns out, for trying something new and innovative.

To step away from talking strictly about just the brands who are doing it well, I want to point out the fact that as a platform, Facebook Messenger is going to be really stepping it up for this weekend’s big game. With its recent competitive filter update, similar to that of Snapchat, you will be able to find all new frames, stickers, and art in advance of #SB51 (that may or may not be inclusive of falling football effects), as well as a showcase of how brand’s chat bots can be of service to you as a customer. As a platform, Facebook has really stepped up to the plate to provide its users with all aspects of competitive social platforms all in one place.

What is Your Favorite Halftime Food?

NV: Buffalo chicken anything. I believe buffalo sauce is one of the greatest inventions and flavors ever created. If I was still in college, I’d base my thesis on it. Also, Buzzfeed’s Tasty channel are phenomenal marketers.

KS: I am all about those dips! I mean, who isn’t? Give me all the queso every day, all day. I also have to agree with Nick on the buffalo chicken shout-out. If you don’t like buffalo flavored everything, we don’t want that negativity in our lives.

What is Your Favorite Halftime Show Performance?

NV: It’s tough to top Purple Rain from Prince in 2007. He killed that performance in the rain in Miami. Watching it again makes the hairs stand up on my arm.

KS: #LeftShark – enough said.

What Tip Would You Give a Community Manager During the Game?

NV: As a community manager, the best thing you can do during a big moment is stay alert and use good situational awareness to maximize your impact. Everyone knows the Oreo example from the 2013 Super Bowl. This is just one of many examples of a brand using a broad connection from a game situation and building a bridge to its fan base. Depending on your brand voice, going a bit rogue like Wendy’s can pay dividends as well. Just be sure to have a bank of witticisms, memes, and gifs at the ready.

KS: Set up a game plan (no pun intended) prior to the big weekend. If you haven’t done so already, I am sorry to say it, but you are behind. However, there is still time to not miss out on a big opportunity for your brand. Make sure you are aligned with your client contacts or internal social brand team on your roles and responsibilities for the weekend. Be sure you are tracking all keywords and hashtags for the big game day as well. Brands have already started advertising and posting content, and there could be lead-ups to a big moment for your brand to capitalize on, so get to monitoring ASAP.

The best advice is to NOT insert your brand into the conversation unless it is authentic and the timing is right.

However, the best advice I can probably provide you is to NOT insert your brand into the conversation unless it makes sense, is authentic/genuine, and the timing is right. No one likes a brand that tries too hard, but I guess that is a risk some of us are willing to take.

Best Advice for Brands?

NV: Less is more, unless you’re talking paid advertising support. If your brand is going with an organic approach to the game, pick your spots. There is a lot of noise before, during, and after the big game, so use this knowledge to your advantage in both posting content and interacting with fans. For example, if you have little to no paid media budget, maximize the days leading up to the big game or early morning hours before the game to post content. If you’re hoping that a big-game promotion will lead to extra conversions, then your offer should compel users in a time of mass promotions (you might have to go above and beyond to break through). Overall, be sure to enjoy the chaos.

via GIPHY

If you don’t have a paid media budget, maximize the days or early morning hours before the game to post content.

KS: If you are a brand that didn’t have a lot of marketing dollars to deal out toward the big game, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a seat at the table with the bigger brands who did. You just need to get a little more creative with your overall strategy, find the right moment for your brand (aka find the white space), and think beyond the big day. According to a NewsCred article, the brands that are getting marketing right are engaging their fans over the course of the entire season – not just on the day of the game.

I will say that a marketing birdie did tell me that if you are trying to find the “right time” on Sunday to insert your brand into the conversation, that halftime slot might be your key moment of opportunity to make AdWeek’s best-of-the-best recap the next day. 😉

What is a Social Trend We Need to look Out for in the Coming Months Following the Super Bowl?

NV: More live streaming of live TV events. Twitter is testing this with a partnership with NFL Thursday Night Football, while Buzzfeed and others have tested live streaming movies and even video games. This is especially intriguing for brand partnerships and community managers because of the captive audiences for live events, and this could change the social media approach for brands permanently.

KS: I am personally interested to see how Snapchat (or should I say, “Snap”) plays a role in the Super Bowl and all the advertising and marketing that comes with it. Now that its advertising API is open to all brands, I am curious to see if any brands hop on that last-minute train of opportunity to try and make a splash this weekend in this year’s, IMO, hottest channel. I personally think this channel continues to be on the up and up (especially with, dare I say it, millennials) and I am excited to see what stunts they decide to pull during #SB51 and in 2017 overall.

Follow us on Twitter for additional coverage and reaction around marketing the Big Game.

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