How To: Win The World Cup (Of Influencer Marketing)

Kick off

The Fifa World Cup on social media is big. Seriously big.

In a World Cup semi-final game in 2014, where Germany hammered hosts Brazil 7-1, there were 35.6 million tweets posted, making it the most discussed sporting event in history.

So, with so many people all over the world active, interested and eager for conversation, how can brands and influencers create an opportunity to tell a relevant story.



The opponent

At a tournament like the World Cup, official sponsorship is incredibly costly – and incredibly well protected.

But, rather than spending a decade’s worth of marketing budget on sponsoring the tournament – or risking the wrath of the FIFA legal team by trying to sneak your message in, smart brands will turn to social media instead.

And anyway, spending big on official sponsorship is only a good idea if you have a good campaign. Mastercard, for example, have been criticized this week for a promotion that offers to feed 10,000 deprived children for every goal Lionel Messi and Neymar score at the tournament! Former England striker Ian Wright called it ‘easily the worst marketing I’ve ever seen’.

The goal

But other brands have demonstrated that clever, creative and relevant content can be a huge success amongst World Cup fans.

In the last tournament, Adidas created a Twitter account for their official match ball. Odd as it may sound, the @brazuca account combined cheeky real-time commentary of key events, behind-the-scenes content and even footage from a camera inside the ball. It added up to a huge marketing win for the sportswear giant, earning 3.4 million followers just for their football!

Irish betting firm Paddy Power also proved that a humorous, real-time approach to the big and small talking points of the competition is an opportunity to grow the brand – claiming to have 10 times the engagement level on Twitter and Facebook of rival betting brands during the 2014 tournament.  

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The tactics

So if fun, in-the-moment, personal observations is what football fans engage with on social media, there is surely a huge opportunity for influencers, whether they’re sports specialists or not.

The audience is undoubtedly there (and huge) –  the word ‘football’ is mentioned over 77 million times a year on social media, and that excludes any US mentions (where the word generally refers to American Football).

Also, social media platforms are preparing themselves to cater for this army of global fans from the first kick off to the tournament’s final whistle.

Snapchat, for example is already a favourite amongst football fans (a report in 2017 revealed that 58% of fans surveyed use the app). And for this tournament they are partnering with youth football brand Copa90 to deliver exclusive content from the tournament from the perspective of young fans.

And while Instagram isn’t typically associated with football, Instagram Stories has a huge range of features that an influencer could use to create engaging World Cup content. (Even the biggest professional clubs have recognised this potential, and Bayern Munich often use the poll sticker on Stories to ask fans for their views – and trust us fans LOVE to share their views.)



Get warmed up…

The truth is that influencer marketing hasn’t particularly defined its role (or demonstrated its value) for big sporting events… yet.

But even if your audience isn’t exactly the typical football crowd, there are still opportunities for influencers from all sorts of backgrounds to do something engaging and participate in the tournament in their own unique way.

(For example, fashion influencers may have something to say about the Nigerian team’s jazzy new World Cup kit, that sold out completely after 3 million pre-orders and causing enormous queues outside London’s Nike Town.)

Also, it’s a good idea to look a little closer at who this World Cup audience really is. Social media conversation round the 2014 World Cup was 71% male – which means almost a third of those voices were women, and it wouldn’t be surprising if that percentage grew this year.

And brands, with such an enormous audience focused on the same topic for a few weeks, will want to hear any ideas you have that will bring them into the World Cup conversation.