How @USSoccer Scored on Social Media at #WorldCup2014
Even if you aren’t a soccer fan, you probably have heard something on social media about the World Cup taking place in Brazil this summer and the U.S. involvement in the tournament.
While I am a soccer fan, what struck me more than the performances on the field was the U.S. Soccer social media content campaign that created waves through the digital universe, especially on social media channels like Twitter and Instagram.In case you aren’t familiar, to create a wave of support for our men’s national soccer team, U.S. Soccer chose 30 professional athletes, actors and musicians with an established social media presences to send a jersey personalized with their Twitter handle. These ‘influencers’ were encouraged to post content regarding their jersey and encourage fans to watch US matches. In addition, with the use of inspirational content, chants and video content leading up to the opening match and throughout the tournament, the country was hurled into a soccer social media frenzy – expanding what is usually a niche audience into a perpetually trending topic online.1
So why is this significant for you and your social media content strategy? Let’s identify some useful takeaways that you can use to build the following on your channels – a mini-social media case study, so to speak.
Let’s start with the nature of the campaign – @USSoccer targeted influential personalities (influencers), with established followings, to become advocates for their cause. Who are your influencers? It isn’t hard to find. Do you have loyal customers that constantly tell you how much they love your products or services? Pay attention to the following of those that follow you on your social media channels. Every time someone shares your message, your influence multiplies exponentially – how can you reach those people and work together to positively impact your bottom line.
This brings us to their next point – by targeting influencers with various realms of influence – film, music, sports, etc. – you’re creating relevance to followers that wouldn’t otherwise pay attention to your message or brand. So, for example, while Michael Phelps’ followers may care more about swimming than soccer, because Mr. Phelps is a champion for your cause, they may pay attention to the games or retweet his posts or yours.
In addition, the use of influencers makes your message or cause trendy. Because all these ‘famous people’ were urging their followers to watch the games, it became a social event – it was ‘cool.’ There were watch parties around the country under the banner of the red white and blue. There wasn’t just a cool factor here – as the influencers showed their support with inspirational messages, there was an emotional angle in play. At that point it is about America, being united and showing the rest of the world our dominance. It pulled the competitor out of even the most docile, soccer-neutral Americans.
The final social media content takeaway here is their ‘follow through.’ U.S. Soccer worked with Digigraph to offer fans the chance to be an influencer with digital jerseys delivered to their inbox with their Twitter handle on the back. They gave people a chance to take the message a step further on their channels. In addition, inspirational tweets and messages from fans were used on signs around the team’s training fields and locker room1. By making your fans feel like they are apart of your message or cause via social media, you turn someone from a passive viewer into a loyal fan.
USA Today’s interview with U.S. Soccer communications manager Neil Buethe describes the effectiveness of this social media content campaign perfectly:
“Given the followers on Twitter that athletes and stars have, the gospel of soccer is spread to a new audience, U.S. Soccer communications manager Neil Buethe said. “Overall, it’s a great way to reach the non-soccer, or as we say soon-to-be soccer fans, by connecting through social media,” Buethe said. 1”
How can you use some of these tactics in your social media content strategy to increase your fan base and ROI?
1 Whiteside, K. (2014). USA Twitter jersey campaign bringing fans along for the ride. USA Today Sports. Retrieved July 10, 2014 from