My So-Called Social Super Bowl
I am, by many measures, a digital enthusiast. I write almost exclusively for online media as part of my job, and in my Twitter profile, cop to being a 140-character addict.
This wasn’t intentional (and it was very unlike our previous Footballmer dual-liveblog extravaganza, during which I balanced a laptop with a smartphone with 3-D glasses). The original plan was to watch the game at home and simultaneously monitor my multiple feeds. During the pregame festivities, I even used Foursquare to gauge how many people had already checked into a Boston-themed bar in downtown Manhattan.
Then a friend called and urged me to join him at a neighborhood bar. I brought along a tablet, its interface dotted with Super Bowl-related apps, on which I could keep an eye on the online stream. My Twitter app was open on my smartphone, and I eagerly awaited the smart and sassy commentary from the Twitterverse.
But once the game started, something happened. I decided to actually watch the game on TV and converse with the people around me. My phone was at hand, of course, in the event that someone might call or email with news, but I didn’t check my many apps.
I also paid attention to the commercials — even the ones I’d already seen on the Internet — and listened for the reactions of my fellow viewers.
By the end of the night, I had tweeted exactly once.
Apparently, my digital defection put me in the vast minority: My AllThingsD colleague Peter Kafka reports that social media commentary last night increased sixfold from the previous year’s Super Bowl broadcast. There were so many tweets flying at the end of the game that a new record for simultaneous Twitter messages was set; in television ratings, Super Bowl XLVI turned out to be the most-watched program in TV, with 111.3 million viewers.
But last night — even without reading updates on Facebook or Twitter — I sensed that the Audi “Vampire Party” ad was likely a winner, that people liked the idea of a slingshot-bound baby snatching a bag of Doritos, and that the newest Go Daddy commercial didn’t exactly resonate. According to data from the CNBC/Collective Intellect Super Sunday Ad Tracker, Doritos ads captured 15.8 percent of all engaged consumers, and the Go Daddy ad was deemed “offensive.”
Anecdotally, people like dogs. Also, Ferris Bueller triggers nostalgia in some, even if they could care less about Honda’s CR-V. And all you need to do is talk to people to get a feel for this. According to Hulu, “The Bark Side” and “Matthew’s Day Off” were the most-liked ads of the game.
Some people thought Madonna’s half-time “Vogue”-ing was impressive; others felt it was arthritic. This was later supported by postgame social media analysis from Networked Insights. But everyone I saw was glued to it, nonetheless — TiVo says so, too.
I knew that Tom Brady’s performance would be a hot topic of discussion, and that New Yorkers were pumped about the Giants’ victory, not because of Facebook status updates, but because when I walked through midtown after the game ended, the whoops and cheers could be heard for blocks.
Fortunately, I was not bound by my job to liveblog, tweet, tumble, update, text, post, buzz, pin or ping about the the big game. (AllThingsD’s Ina Fried, however, did an excellent job of liveblogging the Super Bowl for us.)
I’m sure if, say, CNBC’s Darren Rovell said, “I decided not to report on the game and just watch instead!” his bosses might have a different reaction than mine would. Not only that, but a strong voice in the field of sports business reporting would be sorely missed.
I doubt mine was missed all that much last night.
Generally, I enjoy monitoring — and contributing to — Twitter feeds while I watch live TV. I used Twitter while I watched the most recent State of the Union address. I followed along while the news of Osama bin Laden’s death was unfolding. And I chimed in during last year’s Academy Awards and March Madness games. I think the people I follow on Twitter are some of the brightest in the biz, so to speak, and I usually glean some good insights by following their tweets.
Unaccountably, last night, I just didn’t. And it ended up being the same game it would have been if I had been engaged in social media. I’m wondering if I didn’t even have a bit more fun because I communicated face to face instead of reflexively checking my little screens.
Even though I immediately returned to the social media water cooler this morning, enjoying a social Super Bowl in the old-fashioned sense of the term seems a good reminder that we don’t always need to be connected to feel connected.
(Image credit: Rickshaw_Man) | Flickr