Well, by all indications it was a success. For a good part of the night #brandbowl was the number two or three trending topic on Twitter worldwide. (Number one was paid for.) We analyzed over 300,000 tweets that we could discern were talking specifically about a brand ad running in the game and had nearly 50,000 tweets use the #brandbowl hashtag.*
We learned that Chrysler won, Doritos got the most tweets, Volkswagen’s The Force was the best-liked, and Cars.com came in last. We also learned that it’s really hard to watch a football game when your hands are flying over the keyboard and you’re constantly checking to make sure that everything is actually working and getting counted.
But the real lessons we learned from Brand Bowl have little to do with the advertising we analyzed or the stats we’ve collected. That’s all very cool and fun and revealing. But these lesson are the ones we really care about.
Demonstrate a capability rather than advertise it
Brand Bowl started two years ago as Trash Talk from the Twitter Section. The point was two-fold. Get more of our employees and clients into social media and Twitter. And let the world know that we knew something about digital, social, building things and inspiring participation in the social space. We could have talked about SoMe, blogged about it, or constructed decks to reveal what we knew. But there’s an awful lot of that out there already. That simple decision resulted in Brand Bowl. And now when we do write, blog or deck-lare our capabilities, we have a pretty nice case study that shows rather than tells.
Give something fun, entertaining and useful to your community
We tell clients all the time that in the new social web, they have to give to their community. Not just do things that serve themselves, but create experiences that help their customers. Well, you sort of have to practice what you preach. Brand Bowl was a beast when it came to time — the team worked nights, weekends, through the entire game. But we have received in return amazing good will, lots of appreciation, and new community members who want to engage with us, maybe work for us someday, or even become clients. We’re big believers in the idea that if you want anyone to listen to you or engage, you have to offer something of value first. You have to give to get.
Avoid being proprietary and controlling the experience
In the old days of advertising, we would have held onto this idea and made it exclusive and proprietary. Just as advertisers would never release their Super Bowl spots in advance of the game and invite customer participation, ad agencies held onto their intellectual property with fists clenched tightly. But in a connected world, where collaboration is the ultimate creative catalyst, we gave Brand Bowl to Boston.com. They returned the favor in the form of a wonderful partnership, hosting the site, driving traffic, promoting it and taking on an endless list of technical challenges. As a result Brand Bowl participation and content was up by 300 percent over last year. We also shared credit with Hulu. They fed us the ads as they came online, and hopefully, got some traffic and inbound links in return.
Iterate non-stop to make things better
Digital is never done. We could have put up the same site we hosted last year. But anything that doesn’t constantly get better gets stale. Users will lose interest and find you disappointing. This year we added a bunch of features including: o-auth, the ability to reply and re-tweet from site, and more robust analytics that included tweets by brand on the stats page. We also developed a mobile friendly site and at the last minute created a downloadable icon. The key to doing this is a team of people who work seamlessly well together, where everyone is an equal and has a genuine respect and appreciation for each other’s skills. In this case development, tech, UX, IA, design, copy and social demonstrated perfectly how to work with each other rather than against each other. Watching that unity was my favorite thing about Brand Bowl.
Hope you were there and had fun. Please share any thoughts or ideas you have to make it even better. Tweet on.
*It’s important to note that use of the hashtag does not mean inclusion in the results, as it could have been a tweet about something other than an ad. The inverse is true as well. The majority of tweets that we measured did not use the hashtag and the tweeters probably had no idea they were being analyzed.Brand Bowl is a partnership among Mullen, Radian6 and Boston.com