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Will the likes, hashtags and comments equal web visits and sales from this year’s Super Bowl commercials?

The Super Bowl: the annual, All-American clash of two teams on a football field. While the annual face-off has evolved into a day of enormous eating, drinking and prideful team revelry, it’s also turned into the year’s largest debut of television advertising in the industry. During the first-ever Super Bowl game in 1967, a 60-second commercial cost $40k. That same 60-second ad in today’s game costs $3.75M. With the increase in ad costs and a highly-anticipated debut of commercials that are typically much better than your average ones, viewers look forward to the commercials almost as much as the game.

With the obscene social media growth in the past few years, this year’s Super Bowl ads caused just as much of a flurry of activity on social networks as they did in living rooms across America. Budweiser’s big commercial this year featured an adorable foal who left the Anheuser-Busch clydesdale farm to be one of the brand’s iconic horses in a parade. The commercial invited audience members to name the foal through a series of votes on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and more. Budweiser received over 60,000 tweets, Facebook comments and other messages to help name the baby horse, whose name ended up being “Hope”.

The Super Bowl game and half-time show, alone, garnered 24 million tweets, with top mentions being “Beyonce” (who wasn’t mesmerized by her stunning performance?) and “lights” (that power outage was a serious momentum killer, wasn’t it?). While all of this social media activity is great for maintaining brand equity, measuring online sentiment and audience growth, how can we, as advertisers, ensure that a Facebook like or re-tweet equates to a website visit and even more importantly, a sale? Last week, Adweek published an article anticipating the conversion of social media traffic to sales. David Cohen, chief media officer at Universal McCann saying “on-site data such as visitors and actions taken matter much more to [auto] marketers. How many Facebook ‘likes’ a brand gets is just the tip of the iceberg.”

While no one certainly has the answer or solution to this advertising dilemma, you can lay sales data on top of social media activity to see where spikes intersect and pinpoint the cause. It could have been a shift in content, product roll-out, new images or a conversation started by an audience member. Whichever it is, social media activity and data alone won’t create website visits or significantly increase sales. It’s up to us, the social media managers, to work together and collaborate with the entire sales and marketing teams to ensure that all marketing avenues of the brand are properly and effectively utilized.

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