Own Goal: Brands’ Common Social Media Mistakes During World Cup

July  30,  2014 / By Dan Gadd

We conducted extensive social media analysis during the 2014 World Cup to find out how the biggest social media event’s winners earned victory. Along the way, we also uncovered common missteps that generally led irrelevance (or worse) in a crowded landscape.

Brands that did not spend extensive time evaluating what would work on social media generally ran into issues with low reach, lackluster engagement and/or costly paid social campaigns that performed below benchmarks or expectations.

Spotting campaigns that failed to adhere to the three principles for success was simple, and their content usually fell into one of these common traps:

1. Put the product above the country or the games: Understanding what drives people to discuss or share on social media, and then finding a way to integrate the brand into that, is critical. Social media is not an advertising platform, it is a content platform. Trying to put the brand above the interest of the audience reduces the reach and impact of content.

2. Content (or targeting) was too general: Again, people on social media during the World Cup are motivated to cheer and celebrate their country. Marketers that helped people do just that had the most success getting those people to share their brand with other people. Brands that tried to provide something for everyone generally got a reaction from (almost) no one.

3. No sense of timing: Spikes and lulls in activity during the World Cup are vast. Content that was primarily determined before the first game got underway resulted in little ability to reach people when they were most active on social media.  Nike was able to overcome this and still have a degree of success because they created first-rate content. Most brands are not so lucky. Strategy that gave no ability to be truly relevant during key times during a one month event usually resulted in brand visibility tapering off after the start of the tournament.

4. Offered no real value: Social media is an intensely crowded space during the World Cup. Fans, content producers and brands are all competing for attention. Many brands rushed in because of the size of the audience. But in this environment, bland content will get lost.

5. Celebrated one country, by denigrating another: This was a less common issue, but one that caused bigger problems for the violators. Passion goes both ways. It can lead to overwhelmingly positive responses, and disastrously negative reactions.

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