What I Learned from #BrandBowl on Twitter


The Super Bowl is over. Justin Timberlake crushed the halftime show, the Eagles won, and the world has now moved onto March Madness. (Okay, well, I have moved on to March Madness – go UVA!)

During the Super Bowl, Twitter hosted something they called the #BrandBowl. They were watching to see which commercials drew the most conversation, but they were also watching to recognize brands that maybe couldn’t afford a 30-second spot, but instead looked to real-time marketing during the big game to generate attention. Think along the lines of the infamous Tweet from Oreo when the lights went out at a Superbowl a few years ago, and they posted that you could “still dunk in the dark.” (Which was brilliant, it’s still a great example.)

To be honest, I was planning on WATCHING the #BrandBowl hashtag, but I wasn’t considering participating it in on behalf of the @WeAreCisco Twitter account. I’m a big proponent of not inserting yourself into a trending conversation if nothing is relevant to your brand message.

However, here I was on Super Bowl Sunday with the rest of America, paying attention to only the commercials (although Chris Long is a former UVA player who now plays for the Eagles, so I was paying attention to that aspect of the game.) Then halftime came. Big JT fangirl here. And it hit me.

“Wait a minute!” I said to myself. “We have a video where our employees filmed a dance video to Justin’s ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ song.” (I don’t know if you recall, but a year ago EVERYONE was filming a dance video to this tune, and Justin was encouraging it, not discouraging it.)

“I should post this!” I said to myself. This was¬†applicable to the conversation, and #HalftimeShow was trending.¬† But then my heart began racing. It wasn’t planned. I hadn’t talked to anyone on the team about it. The @WeAreCisco channels are fairly comfortable with risk, but this could backfire big time. I texted my teammate at 9 p.m. on a Sunday and said “am I crazy?” She said no, but she’s crazy too! HA! We looked over the Tweet, we couldn’t find anything that would get us into any hot water, and the next thing you know, I had Tweeted for #BrandBowl.

We had created a longer version of this video, where we danced to the whole dang song. It was fabulous. But in the case of this Tweet, I posted our 30 second version (knowing Twitter attention span was short.)

I put absolutely no budget behind it. It was 100% organic. I knew my friend and fellow social nerd was watching, so I sent him an Instagram direct message to ask him if he thought the Tweet was okay. He not only loved it, he ReTweeted it.

I watched. Within the first hour we had over 1000 views on this 30 second video. The engagement was there, but it certainly wasn’t our most-liked Tweet ever, but it was the attention, which I think is the next “metric” to look at in social media. In 24 hours (I did go to bed after the game, because, Mondays) but when I woke up, we had 2500 views on the video. On a normal organic post, we’d be lucky to get 100 video views. I called it a win, both for the brand awareness (it was posted in an HR Open Source Facebook Group that I’m a part of) and for real-time marketing for an account that wouldn’t normally participate.

What I learned:

  1. Real time is REAL TIME. Had I planned that post in advance, I don’t think it would’ve had the same voice or “umph.”
  2. Only participate in REAL TIME if what you’re going to say adds to the conversation. Don’t force things. That’s when it gets bad.
  3. What a blessing it is to have management that would trust in me to make a decision like that. I almost texted my boss. Almost. Then realized that she’s say YES DO IT, and I’d just be bugging her on a Sunday night.

It worked. For us.

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