The Super Bowl, Prop Bets, and Audience Engagement

superbowlSuper Bowl XLVIII made history yesterday! The Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8. It was the third worst blowout in Super Bowl history, and second worst blowout in Broncos Super Bowl history. But that’s not why I watched the game.

My annual Super Bowl party is a matter of pride. We make plenty of food from homemade wings to desserts, and we invite friends both new and old. But that’s not why I watched the game.

This year was a particularly exciting year because Renee Fleming, opera singer and Crane School of Music grad (go Crane!) was singing the National Anthem. And I even drafted a Fantasy team for Puppy Bowl X. But that’s not why I watched the game.

I watched the game because one clever move got me invested.

An Engaged Audience is a Loyal Audience

This year we set up a series of prop bets. Each guest had a sheet of paper with a series of questions ranging from “Will the first quarter be longer than 20min?” to “Will any of the Red Hot Chili Peppers be shirtless?” We each put $10 in, and at the end of the game the winnings went to the player with the most correct answers. I watched the game with a new interest, as I kept track of each bet.

In short, the prop bets gave me a personal reason to watch the game. I stayed invested well after millions of fans had turned off the TV, bored by the too-obvious outcome.

This is exactly what content strategists attempt to do when building websites. We want to improve audience engagement.

Audience Engagement: Learn from the Super Bowl

Here are just a few of the ways we can learn from the Super Bowl and its associated games.

  1. Give them a reason to read: Are you sending Facebook users to your website via a link? Or linking to a landing page? Don’t just provide a link; let readers know what they’ll be looking for. Whether the impetus is to read more for a discount, or to find a hidden word, readers will become invested if they are clicking on a link with a goal in mind.
  2. Build anticipation: During the third quarter, a friend reminded me that we had been promised an M&Ms commercial. She had been considering leaving, but when she realized we had not yet found out what would happen to Yellow, she decided to stick around. Was the payoff worth an extra hour of football? Maybe not, but we weren’t disappointed.
  3. Raise the stakes: $10 isn’t much, but with twenty people playing the stakes get pretty high. As the game ended, even the Seahawks began to jump the gun, pouring celebratory Gatorade over their coach with two minutes still to go in the game. But at our house, the results were not yet in – we were watching to identify the color of the Gatorade, and there were still two bets left to be decided: the MVP, and whether Richard Sherman would be interviewed.
  4. Brand your content: From team uniforms to hashtags to commercials, everything surrounding the Super Bowl is marked by the Super Bowl brand. The Super Bowl brand is well enough defined that the Puppy Bowl was able to emulate it merely by using the right font and announcing style. Coincidence? Absolutely not.

How else has the Super Bowl demonstrated an excellent content strategy?

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