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The Lesson of #SB48: Where Consumers Go, Brands Must Follow

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Super Bowl 48 was all about the brand hashtag. Of the 54 national ads that ran this year, 31 promoted a hashtag, up from 26 last year. Consumers responded in kind. There were almost 100,000 brand-affiliated photos posted to the Super Bowl hashtags in the first 24 hours.

In addition to volume, what’s most interesting about these photos is where they were posted. Pixlee has been tracking the top 100 brands over the last 12 months and visual brand endorsements are overwhelmingly shared on Instagram. However, during the Super Bowl, >80% of the brand photos were on Twitter.

Why Twitter?

So the question is, why was there such a divergence from typical behavior? I believe there are two primary reasons that consumers chose Twitter over Instagram:

  • Twitter is still the go-to place for news and events. Even with Facebook’s new Trending feature, consumers lean towards Twitter when there are large trending topics so they can be part of a broader conversation. And brands do more Real time marketing on Twitter during the Super Bowl, reinforcing the idea that this is ground zero for conversation.
  • The #HumbleBrag dynamic. Instagram is about sharing with friends, mainly focused on the people, things, and places you love. Twitter on the other hand, is a broadcast medium with a goal of reaching the widest possible audience. In the case of the Super Bowl, there’s no reason for consumers to limit themselves to their inner circles.

Whatever the dynamics, Twitter was clearly the winner for visual brand endorsements in the Social Media Super Bowl.

The Lesson for Brand Marketers

VentureBeat’s anecdotal analysis earlier this week found that 62% of users who published user generated content to social media during the Super Bowl, published to Twitter. The weighting towards Twitter was even heavier with our visual content. The Pixlee hypothesis is that if consumers had a Twitter account, it was their platform of choice during the SuperBowl.

What’s the lesson for marketers? Consumers use multiple social media platforms and shift their behavior to match the context. Brands don’t have the luxury of choosing where to engage socially. To capitalize on the full impact of consumer engagement, brand marketers need to meet the consumers wherever they choose to be.

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