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What To Expect From Twitter’s Biggest Super Bowl Yet

Brands will be hitting Twitter hard this Sunday with custom hashtags, emojis, and even 360-degree Periscope videos.

What To Expect From Twitter’s Biggest Super Bowl Yet
[Photo: Unsplash user Ben White]

With 16.9 million tweets, last year’s Super Bowl was the most tweeted event of the year in the United States. The next biggest event, the Grammys, came in at less than half that, 7.9 million. Now Twitter is gearing up to do it all again this Sunday, with a few new bells and whistles for users.

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“For us Super Bowl is one of the most important time of the year,” says Alex Josephson, head of Global Brand strategy at Twitter. He says that the Super Bowl is consistently the highest tweeted event of the year, with millions of tweets getting literally billions of impressions, and this year is shaping up to be no different.

“It’s everyone on the platform, meaning everyone from your peers and colleagues to sports writers and the athletes themselves, the anchors on television, celebrities—all weighing in on this one thing that’s happening in real time,” says Josephson. “Obviously that presents a lot of opportunities for brands to get involved and connect to consumers they care about in a meaningful way.”

This year Twitter’s relationship with football went a step further when it broadcast 10 regular season games live. Josephson says that those broadcasts helped some advertisers reach an audience that they’ve been having trouble capturing in recent years: millennials, many of whom don’t have traditional cable subscriptions. A whopping 70% of the viewers of games on Twitter this year were under the age of 35.

“It’s becoming harder and harder for advertisers to reach that millennial-age consumer in particular,” says Josephson. “That Thursday-night live football for us was really a way to facilitate the ability for marketers to reach that audience.”

So, what can we expect this year?

As in years past, Josephson says emojis will be a huge part of this year’s big game. Twitter says to expect a number of custom emojis from big brands this weekend, including Pepsi, which has already launched its #PepsiHalftime emoji. Other custom emojis to look out for this weekend: #SuperBowl, #SB51, #RiseUp, #Patriots, and #UnlimitedMovies, a campaign with T-Mobile and Justin Bieber.

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Twitter also worked with @LadyGaga on five custom Twitter emojis and eight customer stickers for her halftime show. Look for those at #thefame, #TheFameMonster, #BornThisWay, #ARTPOP, and #Joanne. Gaga went live on Periscope in 360 yesterday and her behind-the-scenes video hit over 1 million viewers within an hour of going live.

Don’t expect brands to just include a hashtag in their ads. Josephson says that this year there will be a lot more interactivity.

“We’re beyond just running hashtags in commercials and hoping people go to Twitter and search for that hashtag. We’re starting to see this two-screen experience,” Josephson says.

“You’ll see things like calls to action in Super Bowl commercials where interacting with the hashtag might unlock exclusive content or the chance to win prizes.”

Twitter’s Niche platform will also be huge this year. The platform connects brands with influencers who further promote their message. So look for some of those, like this campaign by Best Buy from the holidays, to take those Super Bowl commercials a little further.

And there’s always an opportunity for brands to take advantage of those left shark moments.

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“What we typically advise marketers and brand to do is to prepare to be spontaneous,” says Josephson. “You don’t know exactly what’s going to happen during the game.”

About the author

Emily is a journalist based in San Francisco.

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