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Social media takes over at the Super Bowl

What hashtags to follow, apps to download and Facebook pages to Like for the big game

When Americans sit down to watch the Super Bowl this Sunday, they're going to be chatting about the game and the commercials with their friends.

But they won't necessarily be cracking jokes and commenting on game plays with the same people in the room with them watching TV and chewing on chicken wings. They'll be spending their time tweeting and posting on Facebook and Google+.

For Super Bowl XLVII, a lot of the action is going to be online.

When the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers meet up in New Orleans, social networks are expected to light up with users talking about great passes, touchdowns and, of course, those Super Bowl commercials.

"There are going to be a lot of very greasy keyboards and touchpads if the advertisers have their way during the Super Bowl this year," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "While fans are eating their weight in wings and chips, they're going to be constantly exhorted to get online and help build buzz around some topic or other."

Face it, football fans are a very connected lot.

In December alone, 3.3 million smartphone owners used the NFL mobile app, according to Nielsen Wire, and 13.1 million visited NFL websites.

Nielsen also reported that one-third of tablet owners between the ages of 25 and 64 checked sports scores on their device while watching TV.

Of course, it's about the big game and the Super Bowl is one of the hottest televised events of the year in the U.S.

The Super Bowl also was one of the biggest events on Twitter, with more than 13 million tweets posted during last year's game, according to Omid Ashtari, Twitter's head of sports and entertainment.

To get connected with your favorite team, the @49ers roster can be found here and the @Ravens team list is (https://twitter.com/Ravens/players/members ) here.

Ravens fans can use the hash tag #RavensNation, while the 49ers are using #questforsix.

Facebook also is in on the big game.

A blog post this week from Sean Taylor, an intern for Facebook's Data Science team, stated that 35 million U.S.-based Facebook users have "Liked" a page for one of the NFL's 32 teams. That means one in 10 Americans support their favorite team on Facebook, he said.

As of Friday afternoon, the Ravens' Facebook page had 1,353,462 Likes, while the 49ers' page had 1,681,189 likes.

The official Facebook page for the NFL had 6,747,750 Likes.

Sports sites and team pages offer a lot of ways to follow and comment on the game online.

CBS Sports, for example, will livestream the Super Bowl, including pre-game interviews and commentary.

In the days leading up to the game, the NFL.com will have interviews with players, and during the game, the site will have the popular commercials at the same time that they air on TV.

For mobile users, both teams have their own apps.

The 49ers GameDay Live app, which offers real-time game stats and player interviews, is available for both the iPhone and the Android platforms.

The Ravens Mobile app, which is similar to its opponent's, has a version for the iPhone and for Android platform.

And don't forget about all those game day commercials.

Many Super Bowl advertisers, including Budweiser, Volkswagen and Priceline, already have posted clips or full Super Bowl ads online.

Coca Cola, with its "Mirage" ad about three teams racing to be the first to a desert oasis, is going a step further by allowing Twitter users to vote on whether #Showgirls, #Cowboys or Badlanders should win the race.

Taco Bell already has scored a hit with its "Viva Young" ad, which features a group of senior citizens ending a night of carousing and tattoos with a stop at the fast-food chain.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

Read more about social media in Computerworld's Social Media Topic Center.


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