NBC’s Super Bowl social strategy: A selfie world record

NBC may be the only game in town when it comes to airing the Super Bowl, but on social media, anyone can play. That’s not stopping the broadcaster from trying to call the plays online, though. In an attempt to own the social media conversation too, NBC is rolling out what it is calling the most comprehensive online campaign to date to promote its coverage of the Big Game on Feb. 1.

NBCTumblr2That effort includes everything from having launched a dedicated Tumblr page — a first for the network — to an attempt on Super Bowl Sunday at breaking the Guinness World Record for the most selfies taken in an hour.

“It isn’t a given that people will be watching [our social media] during the Super Bowl,” said Lyndsay Signor, director, social media marketing at NBC Sports and Olympics. “Much of what we’re doing is what we learned from the Sochi Olympics coverage. With the Olympics, we found that everyone was watching social and trying to take a piece of it.”

The Super Bowl is bigger than football for the network that carries it — broadcasters rotate each year — because it’s a chance to hype current and future shows and holdings. At NBC, promos will run the gamut, from Universal features to the “Today” show to Fandango, all owned by NBC Universal. So it makes sense that the network wants to draw as many eyeballs to itself as possible and differentiate itself from competitors (for example, Fox doesn’t have a national morning show like “Today”), so advertisers get a chance to glimpse other opportunities after the game.

The team running NBC’s social strategy is called “Social Central” and will be divided between the NBC Sports’ international broadcast center in Stamford, Connecticut, and Phoenix, where the game is being played. The team will run the network’s attempt to break the selfie record — the current record is 657 selfies by the same person in one hour, said Signor. Patrick Peterson, cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals, will be orchestrating the attempt. The group also teamed with YouTube comedy stars Dude Perfect for a “trick shot” video that will run on YouTube, Tumblr and other platforms and will feature Giants rookie Odell Beckham Jr. and NBC NFL analyst Hines Ward.

The YouTube piece of the puzzle is interesting, since NBC is also going head-to-head with the Google video network for the first time with its Tumblr page, which will host all the Super Bowl ads. Until this year, NBC partnered with YouTube’s AdBlitz channel, which has traditionally hosted all the ads. This year, YouTube is also hosting its own halftime show, alternate programming that will go live when Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz take the stage in Phoenix.

Signor said it’ll be “interesting” to see what happens, but that the NBC Sports Tumblr debut is not a direct response to YouTube’s programming. “We’ve been talking about launching a Tumblr for a while,” said Signor. “But our approach is usually, we never jump in headfirst with anything. It made enough sense that we could start it for the Super Bowl and sustain it after.”

The network is also trying to make sure that its own real-time marketing isn’t drowned out by brand advertising, which tends to reach fever pitch on game day. The social group’s biggest mandate is to create content and get out GIFs and witty commentary on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Vine as fast as possible.

“We’re not focused on having an Oreo moment,” said Signor. “But what we want is to have people coming to us for the the news. We learned that during the Olympics.”

Homepage image courtesy of NBC Sports