If you want some content marketing inspiration, look no further than one of the most successful ads from Super Bowl  XLVIII.

For marketers, the Super Bowl is Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Thanksgiving rolled into one. Brafton reported on some of the best ads of the night to point out that even if the scale and magnitude of these strategies are nowhere near what you can handle, there are still valuable lessons to be gathered.

Case in point: Esurance made waves with its pseudo Super Bowl commercial. It’s possible to classify it as only partially part of the Super Bowl festivities because it didn’t actually appear during the game – it came just afterwards. This was entirely by design.

The ad aired after the Seattle Seahawks clinched the championship, and it featured The Office star John Krasinski sitting in front of a pile of money while describing the terms of a contest for $1.5 million. All viewers had to do was tweet “EsuranceSave30” to enter.

This simple ad, which admittedly was broadcast to millions of homes around the country, did something amazing: It increased Esurance’s Twitter following by over 710 percent, according to SocialBro. This explosive growth made Esurance the clear winner in terms of Twitter penetration.

What does this have to do with smaller-scale content marketing? There are three important takeaways for companies that want to brand themselves effectively and increase their captive social audiences.

esurance giveaway contest super bowl money

Use branding that sends a clear message

The commercial was self-conscious about the fact that it was broadcast after the big game. Krasinski announced in the ad itself that the company made this decision because it saved 30 percent on the price of airtime. That 30 percent was the $1.5 million viewers were entering to win. This is part of Esurance’s general branding efforts, which promise to save customers the same amount on their car insurance, and it’s a brilliant and subtle way to call attention to a major company selling point.

Create effective social signals

The hashtag that viewers were encouraged to share, “EsuranceSave30,” quickly shot up in popularity following the commercial. Not only were users taking part in a trend started by the company and becoming new followers in the process, but they were also continually re-sharing a piece of branding itself. Social media marketers should take note and come up with catchy, shareable and informative hashtags or other social signals whenever possible.

Keep people engaged

The Esurance story didn’t end with the Super Bowl. After all, a winner needed to be picked. On Wednesday night, Jimmy Kimmel and John Krasinski handed the lucky winner his check. The campaign gave participants on Twitter and other media a reason to stay in touch with Esurance: To see if they would win, which might inspire them to do business with the company in the future.

A compelling social strategy will keep an audience engaged over time with branding that builds awareness with memorable imagery or messaging. You don’t have to spend millions of dollars on Super Bowl ads to make this happen – you just have to construct the right content to market your business effectively.

Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.