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Sponsorship is brilliant for many reasons;  supporting a great cause or event, building awareness of your brand with a new audience and changing opinions of your brand through affiliation.

When it comes to something as big as the World Cup, the link between sponsors and the main event can appear tenuous until you’re introduced to the “concept” behind the relationship through brand messaging.

For example, Coca Cola’s desire for people to celebrate goals with a beverage or McDonald’s customers being compelled to avoid or discuss the games in its diners during the tournament. 

However, communicating these concepts is no longer a mere media-buying activity. International brands now have their social media channels to help them along the way...

As part of an upcoming report, I assisted our Senior Research and Insights Analyst Dominic Parker by taking a look at what brands were doing within social media in order to exploit their relationship with the World Cup. I was genuinely surprised at a lot of what was and, just as importantly, was not happening in social.

The graph below demonstrates Facebook activity by active international brands who sponsored the World Cup over a two week period covering the beginning of the event (4th to 20th June 2010). The X axis represents the number of World Cup related status updates published during this time and the Y axis the amount of fan engagement (Comments and Likes) of World Cup v Non-World Cup related status updates during this time.

The higher up the Y axis, the more fans engaged with World Cup related updates, compared with non-World Cup related updates. The top line of brands engaged solely on the subject of the World Cup during this time. The size of the bubbles denotes the number of fans a brand has. 

(Click on image for a larger version)

You can clearly see here that many large brands are sitting in the bottom left hand corner of the table, meaning that they didn’t update their Facebook page with news of World Cup related activity and therefore didn’t receive any engagement from their large Facebook following.

This is symptomatic of a continuing trend within companies of operating in silos when it comes to online activity. Why spend millions on display advertising and creative if you’re not going to make the most of it online?

Working with the example of Facebook, why not post adverts as videos? Why not let people know about competitions you’re involved with even if they’re not taking place on Facebook? Why not just shout from the rooftops that you’re contributing to one of the biggest sporting events in the world? I’m by no means saying ram it down people’s throats, but if you have exclusive content and assets why wouldn’t you share them? 

Every brand marketing campaign these days should think about social media’s role within it as a given. Campaigns peak people’s interest and encourage consumers to engage with companies on Facebook and other branded online spaces. The more people you encourage to Like, Follow or Subscribe to your content, the larger the audience you will have to talk to you when it comes to your next campaign. These are all basic points that many of you will be rolling your eyes at but when you look at working examples from large brands, they are often missed.

This would be a step up from simply “broadcasting” to customers, analysis of customer comments allows brands to utilise their online customer base as a focus group. Think about what that could save a company! 

Making friends with customers in social media might be a struggle for some, but for those who’ve got the people there ready and waiting, the opportunity for social as a broadcast, engagement and insights tool is there to be grabbed. For some brands the World Cup is an opportunity missed, but it should also be a lesson learnt.

The data used to inform this blog post is from the iCrossing report UK Search & Social Media During the World Cup 2010

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Published 13 July, 2010 by Caroline O'Donoghue

Caroline O'Donoghue is a Social Media and Research Analyst at iCrossing and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

2 more posts from this author

Comments (23)

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Tom Planer

Good article, I personally don't remember any of the Hyundai presence on or offline (beyond the banners surrounding pitches) throughout the world cup. This might not have been true of other countries, but it was for me personally in England. It makes me think that the sponsorship fee might have been a waste of money without them exploiting it across all other media.

about 6 years ago

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Tom Planer

* I have just read that Hyundai pulled their ad in the Uk because of surrounding religious controversy. So this answers that one, but not necessarily the online stuff.

about 6 years ago

Philip Buxton

Philip Buxton, Chief Marketing Officer at Exponential

I saw the Hyundai TV ads. The Top Gear rip-offs that they were. Is this a reflection of the continuing power of TV for 'awareness' or a failure to do digital better? Probably both.

about 6 years ago

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Richard Jones

Great article. Could not agree more. I think the central problem is that brands do not have a good way to centralize competitions and content distribution from their www sites to their multiple social networks presences. This means that content updates/creation is often manual on a silo channel basis...meaning it does not get done as often as it should, meaning lost opportunities to engage. We aim to do something about this. 

about 6 years ago

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Dominic Zimmerman

I think your quote "every brand marketing campaign these days should think about social media’s role within it as a given." really sums up what is needed in 2011. It is a given definitely and the amount of cross-engagement really needs to step up next year.  

about 6 years ago

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Shane

Im actually speachless! Why brands like Budweiser, Sony and McDonalds see it fit to spend such a huge amount of money sponsoring these events, and then neglect one of the easiest parts of marketing to get right (with a bit of research and work) is beyond me. My own company would kill for the Web 2.0 exposure that many of these have, but yet the seem oblivious to using sites like Facebook and Twitter to leverage engagement, relationship building etc!

about 6 years ago

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Paul Wylie

I agree with Dominic that the amount of cross engagement needs to step up this year however, the money being allocated to social media spend has came from existing budgets. This puts a strain on the marketing mix decising what gets cut back.

I think until there are solid mechanisms in place to show a direct return on investment on social media spend will relieve some of the uncertainy caused by all the hype.

about 6 years ago

Ciaran Norris

Ciaran Norris, Chief Digital Officer at Mindshare

Interesting analysis but what is just as interesting is the many, many brands who don't directly sponsor the World Cup but who certainly made hay whilst the sun was shining. And many of these did so in very social ways indeed. Which of course just makes the inaction of those who have actually paid to be associated with the event even more mystifying.

about 6 years ago

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Tamsin Hemingray

@Paul - surely the ROI is that your big offline / TV campaign got seen and/or interacted with by even more people a tiny little bit of extra cash (given that these brands already had live Facebook pages)?

And if the brands had stuck their Facebook URL on all their offline stuff they'd have been growing their social network for free.

about 6 years ago

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Kelly Godfrey

@Paul - I agree with Tamsin, but also the point has to be that if you measure social media ROI against other direct response channels it would never get investment.

We have to stop thinking about channels and start thinking about the bigger picture that is brand communication - from awareness to response to engagement and advocacy.

Social media is present throughout and if you're not there talking to your customers, your competitors will be.

about 6 years ago

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Caroline O'Donoghue, Social Media and Research Analyst at iCrossing

From the perspective of simply using social as a "broadcasting" tool where's the cost? You've made the advert, stick it on your Facebook page. You've paid the money for the sponsorship, create a status update saying "we've sponsored something." You've put in the effort to get some press coverage, link to it. If you're already active in social (which all these brands were) why weren't they using them? People spend ages on Facebook and if they've told you that they "Like" you, why not Like them back with a little attention?

about 6 years ago

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Robin Fishley

http://fifaworldcup.hyundai.com/main_en.aspx We discussed a very similar subject before the world cup and it was interesting to see the trend continue into the tournament. Hyundai did have quite a good interactive site set up but there was very little marketing surrounding it - you could choose what slogans to write on the side of the bus, it was a good campaign but it closed about 2 months before the tournament and they did not bother to publicise the site beforehand. Overall online and especially SEO still seems to be the poor cousin when it comes to these big global events, even though the engagement is direct and easy to measure... Look at our sports index covering this very subject

about 6 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

Why are we still asking "why not?" and flogging brands for "not getting it."  What do we earn from this behavior?  I suggest: more of the same.  Under-investment in digital.

I continue to respectfully disagree with most if not all of the commenters.  And I'm disagreeing with purpose: To spark debate that can lead to more investment.

Why should a brand "engage" when, in fact, nobody really agrees on what it means.  Nor is there truly consensus on what the specific business value is in "engaging" beyond "branding" that allegedly creates sales.

Yes, let's take Coke as an example.  84 million impressions.  Cheap ones too but what is the user behavior being solicited? 

That's the power of social media and digital -- the ability to discover (if not manufacture) and capture actual demand.

Coke “congratulated the England and US teams, linked to videos on YouTube and invited people to ’share their celebration’ of their teams’ success.”

Coke didn't solicit a qualitative outcome... a meaningful behavior in my eyes.  Because it didn't solicit or generate anyone doing anything that would move them toward drinking/buying a Coke.  Nor did Coke do what Burger King did with its Whopper Sacrifice campaign -- drive people to buy product AND created a qualitative improvement in the customers life.  (gave them an improved overall Facebook experience by purging Friends who weren't Friends)

Maybe I'm crazy but the outcome here is "branding" once again.  Everyone "experienced" Coke by clicking (and then, sharing a high five or viewing a Coke produced video clip). 

And am I missing anything or is this "buying influence" with Promoted Tweets simply "buying into a momentary wave of enthusiasm" for an event? (The World Cup) Basically it's mass marketing on in the interactive, digital realm.

Because I think it is.  So Coke chose to do nothing new with digital -- beyond what I'll call "traditional digital branding." 

Wouldn't this have been better off as a plan to launch an ARG (alternate reality game) or something more meaningful... with more resonance/longevity? 

Shouldn't we be applauding brands for not just jumping in to do more "branding" just because it's the natural thing to do?  Shouldn't we be encouraging them to create meaningful interactions with customers that lead to a qualitative outcome -- or do nothing at all?

Thanks for considering, all.

about 6 years ago

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Caroline O'Donoghue, Social Media and Research Analyst at iCrossing

@Jeff Whilst I appreciate your attempt to spark debate through referencing Coca Cola's Twitter activity, we were discussing "joined up" marketing rather than channel specific marketing tactics and their outcomes. The reason why we look at examples of success as well as mistakes is because there are lessons to be learnt from both.

For anyone interested in Coca Cola's promoted trend on Twitter please check out the Mashable article Jeff is quoting http://mashable.com/2010/06/25/coca-cola-promoted-trend/

about 6 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

Hi, Caroline... The title of this entry is "How did brands use social media during the World Cup?" And that's what we all, myself included, seem to be discussing. Is Twitter outside the context of social media? And I'm sorry but I don't understand what "joined up" marketing is. Mostly because you've used the term outside of the context of your thoughtful post -- discussing Facebook and social media marketing around the World Cup. Color me confused!

about 6 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

Caroline... In hindsight I understand your term "sign up" after re-reading your piece. I just don't see your article as limiting the discussion to Facebook. I see Twitter as "sign up" as well: Friending is just like Following in this way. But more importantly I sense a fundamental disagreement in our values system. You say...

"The more people you encourage to Like, Follow or Subscribe to your content, the larger the audience you will have to talk to you when it comes to your next campaign."

... and I respectfully disagree on the premise. That being, a Like, Follow or Subscribe being meaningful in any kind of permanent way. The number of those actions are, in my opinion, meaningless. I argue they aren't friends or subscribers... but curious (if not anonymous) clicks. For the nanosecond that it took a user to click into the brand's page, they are persons. But to call them 'subscribers' or 'friends' immediately thereafter is stretching the definition of 'friend.'

And that being said I think we have a fundamental disagreement on what the world needs more of.  And this is probably not the place for the dialogue.  But thank you for your thoughtful piece.  And for enduring my inclusion of Twitter in the context of brands usage of social media during the World Cup.

about 6 years ago

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Omar Alam

What I saw most was Nike with their ads surrounding write/make history using the superstars of the different teams and countries they sponsor (interesting that 3 of the final four teams were not sponsored by them, but by Puma (1) and Adidas). With FB, I actually saw more "social" interaction from such as Playdom's Bolam which is a soccer game where you build stadiums, manage your team, and play the actual teams from around the globe. With a large and one of a kind world sporting event like the World Cup (Viva Espana), something that a person actually can interact with (like a game, or trivia, or a puzzle of some kind) did and will always work best. I do see the cause of brands dropping the ball with social media for this event still can be found at the core of their problem: they don't know how to interact with people, and especially their customers. Unless it involves a hard sell or celebrity endorsement, they still have no clue how to use this amazing technology and tools that we have. And the few that did do a good job tended to be either small social game makers, or the major spanish media networks (i.e. Univision, Telemundo).

about 6 years ago

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Ben Jolley

Sports and Music Sponsorship is big business so it is only natural that organisations do all they can to maximise their ROI. By associating themselves with high profile global events organisations tap into our emotions on a massive scale and get their brand in the public eye.

In the run up to the 2012 Olympics you will start to see a distinction between the organisations who have a strategic approach to social media creating their own 'Social Media Hubs' or branded community sites with which they will host, participate in, and analyse conversation / buzz  and in doing so monitor sentiment pertaining to their products, services and brands.

By bringing in audiences from the ready made pools of people 'waiting' out in Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, YouTube, Flickr etc. These Social media hubs will be characterised by rapid growth, consist of a more technology savvy demograpic and will typically offer a richer content driven experience that can cater for mobile users in order to attaract / retain active users.

Hold onto your hat's folks here comes Web 3.0 and it's mobile....

about 6 years ago

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Jimmy

Bud had a huge social media campaign.

Bud United was everywhere.  Youtube, Twitter, Facebook etc.  It had a reality show.  Not sure how you missed it. 

about 6 years ago

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Alexis Tehel

Fantastic analysis - many thanks. I think you meant 'pique' not 'peak' or maybe that's a US thing :)

about 6 years ago

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Caroline O'Donoghue, Social Media and Research Analyst at iCrossing

@Jimmy BudUnited is labelled as "Budweiser Football" 

about 6 years ago

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Fresco Creative SEO

The usage and rise of social media during the world cup just went to show its value in how it can be used to communicate between the teams, players, sponsors and fans. As fans look to the footballers as stars and idols, twitter especially bridges the gap and brings the communication between the two parties closer together. The sponsors also, especially Budweiser, made great use of social media too.

about 6 years ago

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Divyesh Shah

interesting article on social media, how fast its chained through.....

about 6 years ago

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