(CNN) — The dreaded nasty weather didn’t show up for the Super Bowl on Sunday. Neither did the Denver Broncos.
But Madison Avenue, with its hundreds of millions of dollars worth of commercials, was there. And it looks like the ad men and women have caught on to this whole social media thing.
For the first time, more than half of all commercials aired during the big game included a social hashtag.
From Chevy’s #SilveradoStrong to Coke’s #AmericaIsBeautiful, 57% of the ads featured hashtags, those searchable terms that have spread from Twitter to Instagram, Facebook and other platforms. That’s up from 50% last year and 7% the year before — a remarkable ascent, considering that Audi made news just three years ago when it became the first Super Bowl advertiser to push to Twitter.
Despite Twitter’s buzz factor, 1.2 billion-user-strong Facebook may still be Madison Avenue’s platform of choice. Facebook got five specific mentions in ads, compared to Twitter’s four.
“Several large trends are converging to fuel this phenomenon,” wrote Kevin Bobowski for AdWeek. “Television’s power is waning, making must-see TV that consumers choose to watch live … more valuable to advertisers than ever before. But as the price tags for these live TV spots rise, brands want something more than 30 seconds of TV exposure for their $4 million. They are finding that extra value on social media.”
There was plenty of action for them to court.
Twitter reported that a record 24.9 million tweets about the game were sent during the telecast. That topped the 24.1 million from last year’s game.
And while that increase can be attributed, at least in part, to the growth of social media use as a whole, it further establishes Twitter as a Super Bowl party within a party, where people expect to share, and be entertained, during big live events.
The biggest Twitter moment came when Seattle’s Percy Harvin ran a kickoff back 87 yards to open the second half and, essentially, seal the Broncos’ fate. That generated a whopping 381,605 tweets per minute.
That was much higher than Twitter’s peak during last year’s Super Bowl, which reached 231,500 tweets per minute during the Superdome blackout of the third quarter.
“Not only do consumers watch the game and the ads on their televisions, but they keep their devices at the ready to engage with that content,” said Scott Allan, of social-marketing firm AddThis.
Cars led the way, according to AddThis. Maserati, Kia and Jaguar saw the biggest increases in the amount of social engagement after their commercials aired, according to the company’s analysis.
Coca-Cola also generated lots of social chatter with an ad featuring citizens singing “America the Beautiful” in a range of languages, from English to Spanish to Arabic. Some took to Twitter to complain that the song should be sung in English, which prompted others to defend the ad and cry racism.
Even folks who didn’t fork over the millions of bucks needed to get airtime during the game were doing their best to get noticed.
JC Penney made a splash with tweets like this: “Toughdown Seadawks!! Is sSeattle going toa runaway wit h this???”
Users and some media outlets speculated aloud that a tipsy or illiterate employee had commandeered the JC Penney account before the retailer revealed that it was all a promotion for mittens.
And, believe it or not, there were even some social media moments from the game that didn’t involve anyone trying to make money.
From Broadway Joe Namath’s throwback fur coat to Hillary Clinton’s swipe at Fox News, social media followed, and amplified, every moment (that Hillary post had been retweeted more than 55,000 times by midday Monday).
On Monday morning, 9 of the 10 top-trending terms on Facebook were Super Bowl-related, from Bill O’Reilly’s interview with President Barack Obama before the game to the touching text received by Broncos player Shaun Phillips from his son after the game.