As we head into the 58th anniversary, it is fair to say that the Super Bowl has become more than just a sporting event. Now a cultural phenomenon, the spirit and fun of the big game has spread all over the world. High drama and unpredictability is part of what makes the game itself such a must-see occasion, but we all know it is about even more than that. Be it the ads, half-time show or the celebrity spotting, the action never stops on and off the field. The currently have the San Francisco 49ers as favorites to win this season, but you can even bet on novelty markets such as the color of the Gatorade bath.
Something that has contributed greatly to the Super Bowl’s rise as a cultural phenomenon is the internet and more specifically social media. Let’s take a look at the role it plays in dominating the internet and illuminating the game of football.
Social Media’s Role in the Super Bowl
Social media has transformed the way people watch and connect over sport. In decades prior, fans would gather round the TV or in bars and restaurants to watch and discuss the Super Bowl. You could maybe shoot over a text to a couple of your friends and family but those were expensive back in the day! However, now you can share reactions and talk to fans and viewers in real time with sites such as X, Instagram and Facebook.
During the Super Bowl, twitter becomes a number of things. A battlefield of opinions, a place to bask in the glory of a win or somewhere to commiserate on a loss with fellow fans of either team. People share memes, jokes photos of their setups, jerseys and a whole host of other things that accent the festivities of the game.
The impact it has on social media is monumental. During last year’s LVII game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, the total number of tweets in the U.S. was up 20% and total tweeters were up 18%. While the three biggest stars of the game— Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce— were the most tweeted about players, it was Rihanna’s halftime show that dominated the day. The grammy award winning artist made her first live performance in five years and it was far and away the most talked about moment overall.
The advantages of social media are not just a one way street however. As good as it is for the fans, it is just as advantageous for brands and for the NFL itself. For both parties, it is essentially free advertising. The Super Bowl ads are always among the most talked about part of the game and the way they can spread on social media is not lost on these brands. broke down the numbers from LVII and found these stats:
The brands that ran ads during Super Bowl LVII were collectively mentioned nearly 312,000 times during the game. That equates to 1,300 mentions of all the Super Bowl advertising brands per minute on Twitter during the game.
The brand that registered the most mentions on Twitter garnered more than 39,000 mentions for the entire time frame.
Interestingly, that wasn’t the only winning brand on social media this year. The runner-up collected a neighboring 37,000 tweets during the game.
This year’s Super Bowl saw something of a re-emergence of hashtags with roughly 40% of Super Bowl advertising brands bringing in an associated hashtag for their campaign.
Companies, brands and the league are well aware of the marketing potential of social media. Even if they are loss leaders, the billions spent in advertising on the Super Bowl will always be further accented for free by social media.
It is not just advertising either. Social justice movements frequently use the Super Bowl to spread their message, seeing it as the best way to platform their cause and reach the most people.
The power of the Super Bowl on social media is a testament to the influence of both in the US and the wider world. This influence is likely to grow even more and as social media continues to evolve we are only going to see it play an even bigger role in the game.
It is the event that attracts the most tweets and engagements in the world with an average of 25 million tweets per minute. A alone received over 2 million retweets and brands will continue to throw money at the game, with these sums growing year-on-year. It well and truly takes over the internet every year and there is no sign that this is going to change any time soon.