For marketers, the showdown on the field wasn’t the only one that mattered. Social media buzz surrounded lots of the ads that appeared during the $4.5 million, 30-second time slots. Regardless of how much stock marketers put in social media buzz as a metric, it’s definitely worth a look…

So which brands won the attention of the social media crowds during this year’s Super Bowl?

Engagor, a social media management platform, recently published an overview of how brands performed on social media.

Let’s see what they have to say:

  • In all, there were nearly 2,000,000 social media mentions on Facebook and Twitter. Twitter came out on top, earning 1,513,527 mentions versus Facebook’s 361,467.
  • There were 815,882 mentions for “Super Bowl commercial” on February 1st.
  • McDonald’s was the most buzz-worthy brand. The fast food chain’s Pay With Lovin’ campaign, which served to announce a new form of payment for the next two weeks, outstripped the second-place competitor, Coca-Cola, by nearly 300,000 mentions. Runners-up included Nationwide, Budweiser, and T-Mobile.
  • T-Mobile was the most engaging brand. While the other top brands earned quite a few more mentions, the cell phone network earned 27,355 replies to its campaign.
  • Mobile dominated the social media sphere. No surprise here – 77% of people mentioning and engaging on social media did so from a mobile device.
  • Men dominated the social media mentions. Here’s another no brainer – men were the bigger tweeters and posters, at 68% versus 32%.
  • Business Insider claims that Nationwide’s commercial earned the company the “ominous title of the most-mentioned advertiser on social media.” Why ominous? Unfortunately for Nationwide, their ad featured a boy who died, and resulted in lots of negative feedback…64% to be exact.

It’s also worth noting that Amobee came up with slightly different numbers than Engagor, reporting that Nationwide came first, followed by Budweiser, then Coca-Cola. McDonald’s came in 7th place, according to Amobee.

And another company, Spredfast, naturally came up with its own data on the Super Bowl. Their focus was on time and specific content performance, however:

  • Twitter conversations peaked during half-time and the last two minutes of play. After the final interception by the Patriots, Twitter peaked at 395,000 tweets per minute mentioning the Super Bowl. Other peak mentions included Katy Perry’s halftime show and the moment when the Seahawks tied the game right before halftime.
  • Big brands jumped into the social Super Bowl fray in a big way. Spredfast has been tracking 2013’s Interbrand 100 list and found a major spike in brands that had real-time marketing teams at the ready. They found that real-time marketing among this list of top brands jumped from less than 10% in 2013 to over 30% this year.

Analysis and Takeaways

Clearly there are some discrepancies in the data, depending on who you ask. But despite the disagreements about who really won the showdown, there are some clear winners and losers…and some important lessons that marketers can take away from the social Super Bowl.

Nationwide’s “disastrous” ad may not be so disastrous after all. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Any publicity is good publicity.” Amobee Brand Intelligence, Business Insider’s source for the Super Bowl’s social data, claimed that the negative publicity may actually be a good thing. Amobee’s SVP of product and marketing, Ammiel Kamon, stated, “Our historical data shows that from an awareness perspective, it is actually better to be seen in a somewhat ‘off’ light than not to be seen at all.”

The result, according to Kamon, was that this “potentially would be 10 times” the brand awareness that Nationwide would have received without the negative responders’ amplification.

Contests are winners on social media. As mentioned, Engagor claims McDonald’s won the social media battle. And a quick look at their infographic shows what they did right: they offered incentives to retweet. Their campaign was based around a basic social media contest that offered a Toyota Camry to retweeters.

Naturally, not every company can afford to give away a Toyota Camry every time they want to hold a contest. But the principle is sound and there are other prizes that can work just as well, from iPads to virtual prizes and discounts.

Data differs from company to company, so take it with a grain of salt. As we can see from looking at the different social media companies’ statistics, not all data is created equal. Not knowing their data collection methodology or their data sources limits our ability to objectively evaluate the data.

Clearly there are margins of error built in to the data, but what are the margins, exactly? As with most independently collected marketing data, it’s pretty much impossible to say.

They are clearly wide enough for Amobee and Engagor to produce completely different winners brackets. But they are similar enough to see which ads made a positive impact, which made a negative impact, and which ones made very little impact.

Marketing Final Score: Learning from the Social Media Super Bowl Showdown in 2015