The Super Bowl drove more than 24 million tweets about the game and halftime show, but the night's biggest social networking winners were the companies quick-witted enough to take advantage of the blackout that stopped play for a half hour.
Oreo sent out this twitpic during the power outage that delayed Sunday night's Super Bowl.
While the Baltimore Ravens bested the San Francisco 49ers on the field, a lot of action surrounding the game played out on Twitter, which was mentioned in 26 of 52 Super Bowl commercials Sunday night.
"The game is over, the confetti has descended, and #RavensNation is celebrating their big victory," wrote Omid Ashtari, head of sports and entertainment for Twitter, in a blog post. "During the Sunday matchup between the @ravens and @49ers, the roar of the crowd was comprised of 24.1 million tweets about the game and halftime show. By the beginning of the second half, the volume of tweets had already surpassed last year's Tweet total."
And while companies, celebrities and fans alike were tweeting about plays and the players, the power outage drew its own flood of tweets and prompted some savvy business moves.
According to Twitter's own stats, the first Promoted Tweet tied to searches for "power outage" rolled out just four minutes into the outage.
Taking advantage of the delay -- and all the tweets about it -- Oreo posted a tweet and twitpic at 8:48 p.m. ET telling readers they could still "dunk in the dark". The clever post quickly had Twitter abuzz, with Oreo becoming a trending topic. As of noon on Monday, the twitpic had nearly 15,000 retweets and had been favorited more than 5,000 times.
Oreo wasn't alone in taking advantage of the power outage.
The Tide tweet had been retweeted more than 1,300 times by early Monday afternoon, compared to the company's tweet featuring its pricey Super Bowl ad, Miracle Stain, which was retweeted a little more than 1,000 times.
"Very smart," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. "You've got the attention of millions of people that all of a sudden have a reason to divert their attention away from the TV. Those companies that jumped on it captured millions of eyeballs as the game was literally put on hold for 30 minutes."
He added that with social media, speed is everything. With companies spending millions of dollars on Super Bowl commercials, the power outage tweets showed that with social media, quick thinking and a sense of humor can get people talking about a company and its product.
Cable channel AMC, which was airing a Walking Dead marathon at the same time that the Super Bowl was on also jumped on the power outage to try to draw some viewers away from the game. AMC tweeted, "Just want to point out, there's a marathon of #TheWalkingDead on right now, too. soooo..."
Entergy New Orleans Inc., the power utility for the city hosting the Super Bowl, also turned to Twitter -- for damage control.
"We are working with Superdome officials to troubleshoot the issue. Power is being provided to the building," the utility tweeted. And then Monday afternoon, it tweeted, "Until the investigation is complete, any statements on possible causes of the outage are just speculation."
Individual users also took to Twitter to either vent their frustrations or to crack jokes while the game was on hold.
"Can everybody at the game just download a flashlight app to their phones now?" tweeted @robpegoraro.
And @portentint tweeted, "OK, so what's the protocol for this? Do they eventually play out in the parking lot? #superbowl"
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 email@example.com.
Read more about social media in Computerworld's Social Media Topic Center.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.