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Social Media Marketing Lessons from Big Brands

budweiser puppy love

What do we know about the Superbowl?

Lots, really…

  1. It is one of the largest spectacles of sport in the world – somewhere in the neighborhood of 108 million American’s watched the game.
  2. The commercials are almost as big a draw as the game itself.
  3. Companies spend a lot of money on those ads
  4. Big Brands can provide us with great social media marketing lessons

Ok, maybe not #4… But that’s where we are going today – how Superbowl commercials can give us valuable social media marketing lessons.

First up: Newsjacking

Anyone who has ever heard me talk about managing your content on the web has heard me talk about leveraging other people’s content. Or better yet, leverage something that is in the population’s consciousness – one of the best ways is called “Newsjacking”.

David Meerman Scott, marketing strategist and author of Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage, describes newsjacking as the process by which you inject your ideas into a breaking news story, in order to generate attention for yourself or your business.


The idea is you jump in early on a news story and use it in your own content. Go ahead a search for Coca-Cola’s Superbowl ad “It’s Beautiful” to see shat I am talking about. Many outlets jumping on that story, attempting to use it to gain new readers/customers/clients or solidify their current base. Great tactic, however, I noticed something very interesting yesterday on Twitter and other social media outlets – “Messagejacking” or maybe “Brandjacking”.

So what the hell am I talking about?

Check this out – for Superbowl 2014, companies were spending upwards of $4 million for 30 seconds of airtime. Many advertisers had commercials running 60 seconds, 90 seconds, even two minutes! You do the math.

Then there were some other companies who didn’t spend that kind of money on ads, but instead went to social media and delivered their messages leveraging the power and reach of the big Superbowl commercials.

Remember the Puppy and Clydesdale spot from Budweiser?

It’s been viewed 37 million times on YouTube. We all loved it. In fact, it won USA Today’s annual Ad Meter Poll.

Here is Tide’s “Messagejacking”:

How about this “Messagejack” from Outback Steakhouse:

These 2 large brands did not air spots on the Superbowl, but both used another big brand’s commercial to get it’s own message out. Specifically, they both used the power of an ad from Budweiser that people were loving and talking about. Budweiser’s stoked, because they have another large brand helping to spread their message too.  A total win/win!

In fact, Tide did it throughout the entire game, posting a new “Vine” after almost every big commercial. They engaged their audience, Tweeting a lot of replies to people following and commenting.

What did I do?

I spent the game Tweeting and brandjacking/newsjacking myself. I targeted people watching the game (along with my own followers) and Tweeted a constant stream of game commentary and commercial commentary. I retweeted Tweets from big brands, posted links to videos of the most recent commercials. During the game I picked up over 300 new followers and had well over 1000 engagements on Twitter.

In hindsight, I wish I had created more memes that I could have posted during the game… Well, there is always the Olympics and the Oscars…

What social media marketing lessons did I learn from the Big Brands?

  1. Leverage the group experience. In this case, the Superbowl
  2. Be entertaining
  3. Stay on message
  4. Stay engaged

There is a lot to be learned (both good and bad) from taking a look at what the Big Brands are doing on Social Media. You can follow my Twitter list “Big Brands” here.

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  1. Great article, Lennie. Insightful indeed… guess there are some tips small businesses can take from here too…


  2. Thanks Vishal! I really enjoyed watching the Social streams (mainly Twitter) during the Superbowl. Will do it again during the Oscars.

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