Is there a place online where the World Cup isn’t being talked about right now? I only ask because my Twitter feed is filled with hashflags and #Brazil2014. Instagram is overloaded with soccer players cheesing it up. And my Facebook feed has been taken over by people sharing the latest #OneNationOneTeam campaign videos and photos.
But I’m not complaining. The social frenzy surrounding the 2014 World Cup reflects the genuine excitement felt by fans and players alike. And this is something entrepreneurs and business owners should pay attention to. This kind of chatter around a brand is valuable and can pay dividends in terms of increasing your reach, building social proof, and establishing brand advocacy.
So, even if you’re not really into soccer, it’d be a good idea to pay attention to the non-stop FIFA talk and learn a few priceless lessons about how to conduct yourself on your social networks. And that translates into learning how to better build a frenzy around your brand.
1. Brand Consistency is Everything
Whether on Twitter or Instagram, the World Cup is presented in a seamless way. Sure, there’s slight variations depending on each social network’s attributes, but the brand? That’s rock solid. FIFA World Cup has its own Instagram account, which helps to set the tone of the event. Then there are the 33 official Twitter accounts for the participating teams that Twitter Sports has compiled into a single list. And if that’s not enough, there’s ESPN FC World Cup Essentials, an aggregate site which pulls content from all the social networks and a variety of news sources, acting as a World Cup social hub.
On the surface, this might just seem like a bunch of disparate conversations about a sporting event. But if you look closer, you’ll see a trend: branding is everywhere.
Branded hashtags are a major part of the World Cup and there are a variety in play this year. For English speaking folks, there’s #WorldCup and #Brazil 2014. The Spanish-speaking world is using #Brasil2014. Or if you speak Portuguese, you’ll want to check out #Copa2014. This is about global, branded conversation — that extends beyond just Twitter; you can see these hashtags being actively used on Instagram and Facebook, too.
Consistency is one of the attributes I emphasized in my article, “The Top 7 Characteristics of Successful Brands.” If you want customers to build expectations about your brand, you need to be consistent in how you present yourself. Whether that’s through a branded hashtag, blog posts, or design, what’s important is that every time a potential customer comes across your company in the wild, she adds whatever new information she’s gleaned to a mental file. Her next encounter with your brand must meet or exceed these previous expectations. Otherwise, you’ll create a disparity, and that’s how you lose customers.
2. Each Member of Your Team Matters
Many of the FIFA players have their own social accounts and actively share their thoughts and photos from the latest events. Once again, Twitter Sports put together a list consisting of 332 soccer players participating in the World Cup so fans can keep tabs on everyone.
In business, you can leverage each member of your team in much the same way. Having just one social media account for your company won’t necessarily cut it if you want to convey authenticity. What better way to accomplish that than by having your team members speak for themselves in their own, authentic voices?
3. The More Content You Create, the Better
The majority of the teams participating in the World Cup this year are on Twitter. That’s a lot of engagement! And many of these teams are pulling out all the stops to keep their accounts fresh and interesting. This means creating new content, very frequently. From Instagram photos to clever tweets to compelling videos, they’re tackling it all.
For entrepreneurs, following this model can be a tad intimidating. But that’s largely due to a misconception about the act of content creation. In May of this year, I wrote an article called “4 Ways to Maximize the Reach of Your Published Content,” and one of those ways involves building a cross-channel strategy. That is, you can take a single piece of content — a blog post, let’s say — and use it as the seed to create several other pieces of original content like a podcast, a slideshow, or a even a series of tweets. It’s about using what you’ve already created to its fullest potential, which is an essential part of building a kickass content strategy.
4. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
The World Cup is the most socially-engaged sporting event in all of history, according to Adobe Digital Index projections. And yet, FIFA isn’t on every single social network there is. They have a presence of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube — and that’s it. This means FIFA is able to focus its messaging around these main platforms and really make full use of them.
Business owners stand to suffer major missteps if they spread themselves too thin. While it might seem like a good idea to be active on every social network, it’s a much better idea to be active on a few and really knock it out of the park. Your reception will be lukewarm at best if you try to do everything at once.
5. Engage Your Customers
As I mentioned before, the World Cup brand is being reinforced on Twitter thanks to hashflags. Basically, if you type in “#” plus a country’s three-letter abbreviation, a flag will show up in your tweet. It’s cute and clever and quickly attracts attention. After all, if you’re not following all the World Cup goings-on and suddenly see all these flags pop up in your feed, you’re going to likely do some research and see what they’re all about. Plus, it’s something current soccer fans can use to express their appreciation for the game.
Similarly, the Australian Socceroos have taken social engagement up a notch by using the #GoSocceroos hashtag to solicit questions from fans across all the major social networks. Fans just needed to include the hashtag #AskRyan along with their questions. These questions were collected and then answered in an Instagram Q&A with Ryan McGowan, one of team members.
Both the hashtags and the Q&A reflect a desire to involve fans directly. As a company, the more you can engage your followers and really connect with them as people, the greater likelihood you have of building brand advocates and repeat customers. Recognizing that your customer base consists of real people (and showing that your company is made up of the same) is the key to better relationship building; it’s a concept I discussed in my article, “5 Reasons Why Your Social Media Campaign Isn’t Working.”
While you may not be able to replicate FIFA’s level of social domination, you can certainly build greater brand awareness and foster community around your company. And isn’t that worth striving for, especially when a robust online presence can make or break so many businesses?
Have you been watching all the action surrounding the World Cup on social? Have you picked up any tips that could be applied to your business? If so, I’d love to hear them in the comments.