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Six ways you can use a major sporting event to leverage your brand on social media.

09 June 2014 | 05:24 am

This week sees the football World Cup kick off in Brazil. The nation will turn on their televisions, sit back on their sofas and turn to social media to vent their frustrations at the disappointing right foot of certain footballers. But how do we as marketers make the most of this conversation? Below are our top six tips and examples of what you can do to get in on the sporting conversation.

1.     Join the conversation

The majority of well-organised major sports events will have an event hashtag, thus grouping together all of the conversations about that event and creating a unique hyperlink to that topic. If enough people are talking about it, the hashtag may reach trending status (a few examples #Glasgow2014, #London2012, #WeAreEngland). Research the event hashtag and get involved in the conversation including the hashtag in your tweets and posts to reach out to your target audience. Using a buzz search tool, you will be able to specifically target keywords and phrases and have alerts sent straight to your inbox so you can stay in the conversation.

Twitter also provides advice on how to use hashtags in the sports environment. We particularly like the #SocchiSelfies!

2.     Reactive – Oreo/Super Bowl

This tip takes a little bit of dedication! Being able to respond in real-time to sports experiences can ensure that you are first to market. Get it right and your brand name will go down in history. The most famous example of this was during the 2013 Super Bowl (in which half time TV ad slots cost approx. $4million!) the cookie brand Oreo put out a timely tweet in response to a power cut that occurred during the match simply saying “Power out, no problem” coupled with a sparkly lit Oreo with the caption “You can still dunk in the dark”. The post received 15,000 RTs on Twitter and 20,000 likes on Facebook. Not bad for an off-the-cuff jokey response to a power cut. The stunt has gone down in social media history.

3.     Planning for sporting moments

Being able to react in real time is a great way to get your brand out there in the social media landscape, but when resource isn’t available try to plan ahead instead. For example will England win in the first round? Will Rooney score a penalty? Pending the outcome you can get first to the scene with your prepared response. A good example of this is when Carling released an advert “It’s a boy” in celebration of the royal birth of Prince George in 2013. In reality the agency had prepared two versions of the advert and simply waited for confirmation before releasing the correct version.

4.     Connect with popular athletes

Target popular or up and coming athletes leading up to and during the event (although be aware that competing athletes will have other things on their minds during the competition!) It’s good to target athletes that will complement your organisation, and they will often have a large following. Interacting with these athletes and the sporting event will further help your fan base feel better connected to your brand. For example, the linkup between Usain Bolt and Virgin Media has resulted in a great synonymous relationship between the two brands, related to speed.

5.     Use your ace cards

As with any great networking opportunity, sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know. Do you or any of your team have any connections with any high profile sports stars? Connecting with people offline and using your contacts, is a great starting block to then stimulate conversation online in front of your fans. For example our clients have found it really useful to negotiate RT’s as part of their sponsorship agreement.

6.     Seek fan feedback

All sports fans are experts. The digital age enables them to gain access to the latest stats, news, videos and commentary in an instant. Ask your fan base real time questions (using the event hashtags) to get them engaged and involved. An engaged fan is worth more to your brand than a follower who simply watches the world go by. Being able to engage with your fans during the event let’s them know that your sharing the experience with them, helping to build a more positive view of your brand.

Just make sure you know the difference between an umpire and a referee, a volley and a smash or an LBW and a dot ball! Know your terminology before you talk to the sports fans to avoid embarrassment!

Related: What organisations can learn from football in brand protection on social media

Kate Allum, Marketing Manager

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