Last year, I analysed US men’s soccer team in Brazil (unfortunately, this article is in Croatian), and they were fabulous! This year, during Women’s World Cup in Canada, they used the same recipe, and they succeeded again!
I analyzed their campaign and discovered the recipe they use when creating the most successful sports marketing campaign. To make it work you need three things: cell phone, a great designer and access to players.
Their approach to content and digital communication is something we’ve never seen in sports marketing. These are my 5 takeaways from their campaign, and I will show you with examples that they used the same pattern last year in Brazil!
1. Prepare visual identity and a plan
As much as all of us thought this campaign was simple, it wasn’t. Firstly, it is very important to prepare a good strategy long before the start of the event. During World Cup, the visuals were ready to be published at any time. They have prepared for the most unlikely scenarios as well. It’s how the US Soccer digital team prepared both the World Cup in Brazil and the Women’s World Cup in Canada campaigns.
This requires a lot of planning. Team maintaining US Soccer social networks was incredibly quick with posting content, which resulted in great number of shares and interaction. Their main competition were many big TV houses and media all over the US – if they would post something before the US Soccer team did, interaction and reach on the official soccer channels would drop by a lot.
You can see some of the visuals below. The creative team should recieve commendations, and especially the designer, who played a large role in making these visuals.
2. Completely use the behind-the-scene approach you have
Behind-the-scene content proved to be important in sports. Social media brought athletes closer to fans, and fans are big part of this campaign. We can see what players do during their free time, on their way to the hotel, in the lockerroom, after the games, etc.
This is exclusive content, as media don’t have access to it. It is important to post this type of content on social because fans will engage with it and follow you on all other social channels as well in search for more.
Behind-the-scene also helps present athletes as regular people. It is easier for any fan to connect and identify with an athlete if they do the same things and act the same during their free time.
3. Find influencers and include fans
US Soccer marketing team did everything to get support from celebrities from all over the country. They posted their photos and messages of support on social media, mostly Twitter which was their strongest marketing weapon.
After some celebrities and star athletes showed support, the USA president Obama got involved, which encouraged other athletes, clubs, and even Army to send their support. It snowballed into this huge campaign, which increased the popularity and TV ratings of the Women’s World Cup.
4. Tell every player’s story
It’s obvious that fans want to know the person wearing the uniform of their favorite club or a national team. You can rarely see this type of approach, and they hit the fans’ sweet spot with it.
They wanted ’emotions’, so they showed their players in a completely different environment. For the ones who haven’t seen the video, they posted images on Instagram (example above).
It is the identical campaign they did during the Men’s World Cup in Brazil. If you don’t believe me, take a look for yourself.
They are each presented in their own way, with focus on their family. Video content is really great and you should watch at least one of their videos.
5. Communicate with fans and say ‘Thanks’
Social media is called social for a reason, it is not only a channel for you to post news. You need to communicate! The US Soccer social team constantly communicated with their fans, and often retweeted messages of support to let everyone know they follow fans’ comments. They showed their fans their voice/message of support matters!
Players were involved in a social media Q&A session where they answered fans questions on Facebook and Twitter. You can see how it all turned out below.
Great social media communication brought, as expected, great TV rating scores. Last year football (or soccer) passed nearly every US major sport when it comes to TV ratings, even though their team didn’t reach the semifinals in Brazil. To give you an idea of how popular football was last year in the US, men’s national soccer team was more watched then the 2014 NBA Finals.
This year’s results are also very impressive. Women’s national team won the World Cup in Canada, and became the most watched team among all female sports.
Sports marketing once again proved it can provide results, but in order to get results, you need a lot of work, planning and consistency.