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 plays with people who are in the room with them watching TV and munching on chicken wings. They'll be spending their time tweeting and posting on Twitter, 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 at 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 devices while watching TV.

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

It's also 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 roster is here.

Ravens fans can use the hash tag #RavensNation, while the 49ers are using #questforsix, in reference to the fact that the team is seeking its sixth Super Bowl title.

Facebook also is in on the big game.

A blog post this week by 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.

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 pregame interviews and commentary.

In the days leading up to the game, the NFL.com website has featured interviews with players. And during the game, the site will present the commercials at the same time that they air on TV.

Both teams have apps for mobile users.

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

The mobile app for Ravens fans, which is similar to the 49ers app, also comes in versions for both the iPhone and Android phones.

And don't forget about the commercials.

Many Super Bowl advertisers, including Budweiser, Volkswagen and Priceline, have already posted snippets of their Super Bowl commercials, and in some cases the full 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 already made a splash 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, and on Google+, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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