R/GA POV: Social Media Winners At The 2014 World Cup

(Study developed by São Paulo Social Media team and previously posted on R/GA’s Future Vision)

There’s no denying that the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was huge; half of the world’s population– 3.6 billion people– watched the final match between Germany and Argentina live. The 2014 World Cup was also a record-breaking moment for social media:

During the semi-final between Brazil and Germany, fans sent more than 35.6 million tweets, a new Twitter record for a single event. The previous record was held by American football’s Super Bowl 48 with 25 million tweets.
According to Twitter, the World Cup had a peak of 580,166 tweets per minute, almost 200,000 tweets per minute more than the previous record.
With fans around the world watching (and tweeting) more than ever, the 2014 World Cup is now a great case study for social media best practices. R/GA São Paulo’s Beto Bina, Associate Director, Social Media, Carla Said, Community Manager, and Thiago Kazu, Community Manager, lived and breathed the World Cup to analyze Brazilian brands’ social media efforts. Below, find the key takeaways from the event, and read the accompanying deck for the full analysis of social media best practices. While the deck focuses on the Brazilian market, the key takeaways are universal wherever your location:


Afraid to be “real” despite real-time hype: We didn’t see any standout examples of real-time marketing. The case studies mentioned by Ad Media and Trend Blogs were clearly not deployed in real-time, but were developed days in advance with all necessary client approval. Maybe the 7×1 humiliation of Brazil gave brands too much of a shock to react in real-time.
Media or nothing: The World Cup proved how Facebook has changed from social network to media channel. Brands that didn’t invest in Facebook’s paid social ads only reached a fraction of their audience. For example, McDonald’s posted great creative, but some posts received only 40 likes.
The importance of THE hashtag: Every brand wanted to have THE hashtag and generate the most conversation. We saw this work when brands picked hashtags that occur naturally, making it easier for them to become a part of the existing conversation. For example, Garoto found success with #VaiGaroto (#GoBoy), as did Coca-Cola with #TodoMundo (#EveryBody). ESPN, however, was not as successful with the choice of big and complex hashtags.
Traditional still rules: Traditional marketing efforts often made the difference when it came to campaigns. Brands that created relevant concepts across channels found success. Sadia (#PlayForMe) and Skol (Welcome to Gringos) are the best examples of this ripple effect, even Neymar used the brand’s hashtags!
Building stories on social: Many brands responded periodically in social, but the most successful ones used social to amplify content and build stories. These brands treated the original content as the start of a conversation, and then used responses to spark more conversation and as a catalyst to create more content, going beyond storytelling to story-building. Nike executed this really well with Zlatan’s videos, as did Coca-Cola with their responses to the games filled with images, videos and emoticons.
Vine out of Vine: Many brands (again, Coca-Cola did this well) utilized Vine during the World Cup. But the most interesting thing about the videos were the execution– many brands distributed Vine videos on many different channels. Brands posted Vine videos on YouTube as well as Twitter and Facebook, reaching a larger audience in the process. McDonald’s even used Vine to promote their World Cup app, Gol!
Why so serious?: Many brands, especially sports brands, dropped their usually cool, serious tone of voice and adopted a more lighthearted, and at times funny, tone of voice during the World Cup. Adidas did this really well through the @Brazuca presence, as did Nike, who created video animations and let characters speak for the brand.
Social by design… #ButNot: We focused our analysis on social media, but it was impossible to ignore the impact of other initiatives like events and promotions. The takeaway here is that many brands lost an opportunity to extend their various initiatives by not integrating them with social. Budweiser promoted the Budweiser Hotel, for example, through offline initiatives, largely missing the opportunity to make the experience bigger through social.

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