World Cup Social Media: Five Steps to a Winning Brand Strategy

Megan-Hartwick-headshotBy Megan Visanska-Hartwick, Assistant Account Executive, Affect

With the World Cup already underway, there can be little doubt that the pace of the action on the field has been matched by the speed of fans engaging on social media. To be sure, in the age of “live-tweeting,” sports will never be the same. Social media channels have given people the unprecedented ability to participate in a global conversation with like-minded fans and heighten the experience of rooting for their favorite teams.

For brands, however, the central question remains the same regardless of the event in question. That is, how to become a part of the social media conversation without appearing opportunistic. With this goal in mind, below are five steps for building a winning World Cup social media strategy.

1.  Define Your Strategy. Like any campaign, developing a strategy in advance is essential for success. Decide what platforms to engage with, what content is appropriate to share and which hashtags to utilize. Most importantly, determine how to align your World Cup engagement with your overall social media and brand strategy. This will ensure that you’re well positioned to take advantage of the benefits real-time marketing has to offer without sacrificing your core messaging.

2.  Know Your Hashtags. Hashtags are an easy way to identify social interactions and understand how other organizations are talking about a popular topic. During events like the World Cup, identifying relevant hashtags like #WorldCup or #Brazil2014 will help your brand insert itself into ongoing conversations. Remember, when using hashtags, be sure to create organic connections with your content. Sports fans are all about authenticity and can easily identify when attempts at engagement are forced or disingenuous.
 
3.  Integrate Your Message. Events like the World Cup serve as a timely and interesting topic with which to engage your audience. But while choosing not to engage in conversation around the World Cup would be a missed opportunity, veering too far from your organization’s messaging can hurt your social presence in the long run. Your number one priority on social media is to produce content that aligns with your brand’s core messages and provides your audience with information they find useful and relevant. In order to stay on track with your social strategy, find a way to tie the games back to your brand. 

4.  Respect Trademarks. Most social media users are unaware that copyright and trademark laws still apply on social channels. In order to avoid violations, do some research before drafting content for major events like the World Cup. Knowing which commonly used phrases and words are under copyright or have a trademark will guard against accidentally misrepresenting your company as an affiliated sponsor and will help you avoid legal issues related to infringement.
 
5.  Be Respectful. When engaging in any social conversation, it’s always a best practice to remain mindful of sensitive subjects. Since the World Cup is a global event with a global audience, it is even more important to be aware of cultural differences and sensitivities that may emerge during the games. The goal of participating in the social conversations around a large event is to engage with broader groups of people. Be sure your content inspires and provides value for your target audiences without alienating anyone in the process.

When it comes to brand engagement on social media, maintaining a level of authenticity, and striking the appropriate balance between your company’s message and the larger conversation, are the keys to success. Armed with these five tips you’ll be able to ensure your social strategy is effective long after the last goal is scored and the final whistle blows.  

About the Author: Megan Visanska-Hartwick focuses on combining traditional practices and new media initiatives to provide successful public relations for her clients. Megan graduated cum laude from Hofstra University, with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/meganhartwick11/   

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