The Super Bowl is almost here, and you've got your big screen ready to go. But what about all the other screens? It's no secret that Twitter has made sports a heck of a lot more fun to watch, and big events like the Super Bowl are a natural fit for second-screen enhanced experiences--the commercials and halftime show get just as much hype and hashtags as the game itself.
Follow the teams
The Broncos' official Twitter account has been posting up a storm during the build-up to the big game, and the BroncosTV account is a great source of behind-the-scenes videos and photos too. Seattle fans should of course follow the Seahawks account, and the winSeahawks account exists just to shower the fans with prizes and schwag.
It's always fun to see through the eye-holes of the team's mascot, so follow @5280Miles and @BlitzTheSeahawk. Obviously, the players won't be tweeting, you know, during the game, but both the Broncos and Seahawks have curated lists of their players on Twitter--and following a list is a handy way to keep an eye on any pre- and postgame action without following each of those accounts individually.
Don't forget to follow the Broncos on Facebook and Instagram too. But if that's too many apps to juggle, the "Get Connected" page on the team's website does a solid job of mashing up content from all the relevant feeds into one real-time mess of orange and blue.
The Seahawks are on Facebook and Instagram as well, and we love this video on the team's website, in which they rigged up several players with GoPro cameras on Media Day--daring us to dream of the day when cameras will be small and safe enough that players can wear them during the game itself.
Bright lights, hashtag city
But finding the best conversations on Twitter doesn't require you follow a ton of new people before kickoff. Instead, run a search for #SB48 for Super Bowl XLVIII, or just starting clicking hashtags that pop up in your feed to see a blitz of every tweet with that hashtag.
Broncos fans will pile on hashtags like #Broncos, #BroncosChat and #UnitedInOrange, and the Seahawks' supporters will crank up the volume with #GoHawks, #12thMan, #Seahawks, and #LOB for the Legion of Boom. If you see a few accounts using these hashtags to great effect, you might even find yourself following those people permanently.
In fact, tweeting with hashtags affects more than just Twitter's trending topics. All week, the Empire State Building has wowed Manhattan with an interactive light show, the colors reflecting which team's fans tweeted the most, using the hashtag #WhosGonnaWin. The light shows started on Monday and run through Sunday's game.
And now a commercial break
Hashtags will be big in commercials this year, too. It's likely you'll see one splashed across the screen in most of the ads, because advertisers know that if they can get you talking about the commercial online, that will lead more eyeballs to the ad itself, giving the companies more bang for their $4.5 million bucks.
Shazam's apps for iOS, Windows and Android will come in handy during the commercials--when you see an ad with the Shazam logo, use the app to listen in, and you'll see related content like links, making-of videos, and maybe even a discount or two. Use Shazam during the halftime show to get the entire playlist, too. Just don't be surprised to see related "content" (aka ads) on Facebook later.
There's still time to sign up for USA Today's official Ad Meter program, which lets you vote for your favorite Super Bowl commercials. Voting begins at noon Eastern on Sunday and runs through the end of the game. USA Today takes the whole ad thing very seriously, with the signup page warning, "As an official Super Bowl Ad Meter panelist, you'll need to vote on all the commercials." At last, a reason to viciously shush your companions if they start yakking during the ads!
Hulu is letting users vote on their favorite commercials, too--check out the Hulu Ad Zone in a browser or the Hulu app for your phone or tablet to vote. And don't forget YouTube--the Ad Blitz channel will also have voting, and you can catch any commercials you missed or share them with your social networks.
Apps to keep you in the game
Julius Thomas, tight end for the Broncos, will use Hang w/ throughout the weekend--well, not during the game, of course--to let fans get a backstage peek at the experience of a Super Bowl player. Hang W/ is a live video streaming app for iOS and Android, and you can follow Julius or other celebs like 50 Cent and Timbaland to get a notification when they are broadcasting live, or just peek in at past 3- to 9-minute broadcasts. The app even lets you ask questions.
FanCake for iOS and Android asks users to make predictions about games, including the Super Bowl. Get something right (even as simple as "Who is going to win?" or as silly as "What color liquid will be dumped on the winning coach?") and you rack up points that you can eventually exchange for prizes like a free month of Netflix. The app also has a built-in Twitter search for the #SBXLVIII hashtag, a game cast, stats, and a chat room for trash talking.
The newly branded TVTag (née GetGlue) will let users "check in" to the Super Bowl, chat with other people watching, and share screencaps to Twitter.
And finally, if your smartphone or tablet uses Verizon for data, the free NFL Mobile app will even let you stream the game, as well as replay highlights. Yes, I know, you're watching it on TV. But being able to take the action with you to the fridge (oh, fine, or the bathroom) is what "second screen" is all about.