Sports have always been a communal experience for the fans who watch them. Over the past several years, the ability to share that experience with fellow fans of your team – and even the team itself – in real-time via Twitter has intensified that experience and strengthened the bond between fans and players.
Around the 2014 FIFA World Cup – arguably the greatest spectacle in all of sports – the U.S. Men's National Team utilized the power of Twitter to create a social movement - #OneNationOneTeam - that was impossible to miss. The World Cup is a time when all of America – soccer fans, casual sports fans and even those with no interest – passionately follow soccer. The social landscape was primed for U.S. Soccer to engage, activate and mobilize the entire country in support of the team.
U.S. Soccer social efforts didn't just start a conversation, they created a first-of-its-kind movement.
The Twitter push around #OneNationOneTeam began gradually during Send-Off matches in May. U.S. Soccer and FleishmanHillard (FH) then identified key milestones during the World Cup to elevate the conversation – utilizing the first World Cup match against Ghana on June 16 as a "Digital Day," flooding Twitter, organically, with content and hashtags related to U.S. Soccer.
And for the following three matches, we created unique hashtags for each Group of Death match that unified and rallied the country.
U.S. Soccer and FH shared this strategy with key influencers – athletes, professional sports leagues, entertainers, musicians, actors, sponsors, politicians and more – and asked them to support the team on their own social channels.
To keep the conversation moving, we also mobilized a social listening team who could share content, respond to fan posts, and keep an ear to the conversations happening around the match – all in real-time.
Execution & Tactics:
The response to these efforts was unprecedented. Everyone shared support for U.S. Soccer on social channels. It didn't matter if someone's social feeds were sports-centric or not – the support transcended sports. U.S. Soccer was THE topic of conversation during the World Cup in the U.S., demonstrating how professional sports leagues, artists, musicians, actors, politician, athletes, sponsors and more can work as one to amplify a social conversation.
At the start of the World Cup, we were the ones reaching out to key influencers on social. But by the end of it, the tides had turned. Social media managers for teams ranging from the San Francisco 49ers to the University of Florida Gators were asking U.S. Soccer for the newest hashtags. After the World Cup, we received numerous responses from influencers saying, "When can we do this again?" They won't have to wait long, as the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup kicks off June 6.