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Olé, Olé, Olé! After four years of anxiously awaiting its arrival, I couldn’t be more stoked that the 2014 FIFA World Cup finally kicks off TOMORROW – the top 32 soccer teams from across the globe battling it out in the biggest single-sport event on the planet! Crowds roaring, banners waving… the excitement is contagious. But what’s more, it’s definitely worth a blog post to discuss how FIFA successfully manages much more than just the football matches.

As per usual, the Federation’s 2014 digital advertising campaigns did not disappoint. And in terms of accomplishing priority marketing goals, FIFA’s social media efforts have proven to be unarguably effective, to say the least.

Back in April, FIFA’s Facebook pages collectively reached over 280 million fans – the World Cup page boasting more than 20 million users alone. Moreover, the 2014 World Cup Twitter account has accumulated over 441,000 followers. And now users can even track the action on Instagram alongside 44,000+ other photo cropping, Valencia filtering soccer enthusiasts.

So it probably goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that FIFA’s social posts receive a bajillion likes, comments, retweets, replies, shares, etc on the regular. This year’s event may even break some social media records! With that said, it’s even more obvious that businesses should be taking a page out of FIFA’s World Cup marketing handbook. Why?

As Google’s search algorithms evolve, the concept of social sharing has become an increasingly high-impact SEO factor, with Facebook shares and inbound links back to your website equally correlating with higher rankings. I’m sorry… what? Yes, that’s right… more shares = higher rankings in search. And if you take FB likes and comments into consideration, Facebook fan engagement actually contributes more to search engine optimization than inbound links do. Therefore, social media marketing content must evolve in tandem.

The ultimate goal? Make your content inherently more shareable.

Though the 2014 World Cup social media models work on a much larger scale, the principles are essentially the same. And social sharing is the game changer. If your business is ready for the big leagues, check out these pro tips for scoring your social media marketing goals and netting those invaluable sharing points.

1. Attack with captivating images.

Okay, so it doesn’t take a bicycle kick to the head to realize that images boost your share count. But remember, they also increase your click-through rate. On Facebook, wall posts accompanied by photos receive an 84% higher CTR, so feel free to get creative with those Infographics, team photos, and comic strips. FIFA has been posting all kinds of visuals on its social media accounts to generate shares… even big-name player selfies. 623 retweets and 786 favorites? Not too shabby, Messi.

2. Deploy the hashtag. 

Though hashtags have become relatively obsolete for search purposes, they’re still used by marketers hopping into hot-button conversations, creating targeted social streams, working related keywords into posts (without sacrificing readability), and peppering in some good old-fashioned humor… #hashswag. Hashtags are also used to muster up support from a community! An instant hit during the 2010 World Cup, Twitter announced the return of the national hashflags to add a little pizazz to this year’s tournament tweets.

Scoring Social Media Marketing Goals: FIFA Twitter hashflags

3. Strike the funny bone.

If your social posts make readers laugh, they are all the more shareable. Period. Sure, it’s important to educate your clients and prospects and show that you’re serious about your business. But honey, please… Break up that monotonous routine by serving up something funny. Tell a joke. Post an entertaining article. Link to a creative video. People are attracted to personality, and it pays in shares.

4. Celebrate with stats. 

Statistically speaking *ahem*, tweets and posts presenting numerical statistics are more likely to be shared. Interestingly enough, so are posts including an emoticon. Got your hands on some positive data? Combine the two elements for an irresistibly shareable post. Want people to share that specific stat you’ve provided? Check out Click-to-Tweet to streamline the process.

5. Egg on the fans!

Ask and you shall receive. Seriously… sometimes all you have to do is pose a question in order to get responses and shares. Makes sense, right? It’s actually been proven that including “Please Retweet” at the end of your tweets does, in fact, increase retweets (hmm, imagine that…) – and by 4 times as many, too! As best practice dictates, always remember to respond to comments, recognize Twitter mentions, and encourage participation. FIFA does an excellent job of prompting social user interaction with contests and unique opportunities, as seen below.

Scoring Social Media Marketing Goals: FIFA Facebook engagement

6. Sub in a blast from the past. 

Every now and then, pull an archived photo off the bench to show how far your business has come! A simple Before & After piece is another fun way to spotlight what’s new and interesting about your company and its products/services. Likewise, World Cup social media has been riddled with throwback posts. An old picture of World Cup legends Diego Maradona and Pelé received 368 retweets in a matter of hours!

7. Post interviews from the sideline.

Write a blog post featuring an interview with a social influencer, field expert or industry thought leader, and you’re bound to get more shares. Or take your readers behind the scenes! People enjoy reading when there is a sense of exclusivity around the topic. People also enjoy the light-hearted side of public figures… like when English national team striker Danny Welbeck claimed he can’t dance like the Brazilians. Or can he

8. Drop a beat. 

Nothing rallies a crowd quite like music. Or punchy catch phrases. FIFA ads feature both. If that doesn’t work, try dressing up in your company colors and running through the streets screaming, “I believe we’ll get more shares!” (Please reference the video before taking that all too seriously).

9. Evaluate the playing field. 

Not getting the shares you need? Check out what works for your opponents. Looking at industry competitor posts from time to time can provide you with fresh ideas of your own.

10. Add Instagram to your roster.

Though the FIFA World Cup’s Instagram account is a recent development, it’s already accrued plenty of fanfare. Particularly with the younger crowd, Instagram has become insta-popular. Even if your company’s objective for this channel is to project a particular image or generate brand awareness, share your Instagram photos via your other social platforms to attract additional attention.

11. Make a team effort. 

Consider developing a social media hub page to aggregate your entire team of social accounts on your company website. These types of pages give a brand the chance to showcase each of its operating social channels via integrated post previews – all from one centralized location. It’s just another way of organizing social posts for the convenience of the audience. Take a look at FIFA’s social hub page here.

12. Flirt with a red card.

Be controversial! And write with conviction – sometimes, the best defense is a good offense. Yes, it’s important to keep it classy. But don’t be afraid to stir the pot. If your own opinion doesn’t fall one way or the other, try curating content with a fresh take on both sides. Take this CNN article for instance – Team USA veteran Landon Donovan was ousted from the 2014 squad and people were not happy about it! Well-written, hot topic posts like that one are shared countless times across social media.

13. Power up social sharing buttons.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s an easy step to let slip through the cracks. Make sure you integrate social sharing icons into each and every one of your blog posts! If someone reads an article on your website, make it easy for the viewer to share it with his or her connections. Even FIFA is doing it!

14. Practice makes perfect.

Social media isn’t a casual 6 v 6 pick-up game every once in a while. Post regularly and post often. Establish a content marketing routine! Generating expectations for your audience gets them into the habit of checking up on your posts. Obviously, you won’t have the resources or manpower to post practically 50 times a second like FIFA has been. But it’s important to be conscious of how frequently you are publishing fresh, interesting content and exactly when you are doing so.

15. Don’t blame it on the referee!

No excuses if you screw up. Own up to a mistake if you make a social media blunder. OR use social media to make up for a poor marketing choice – Look at what McDonald’s did with the criticism revolving around their creepy new Happy Meal mascot! Along similar lines, it’s also important to “humanize” your business… Speaking of referees, these YouTube videos are an interesting way FIFA has done so for the people who, unfortunately, are too often villain-ized on the job.

When prioritizing your social media marketing goals, always keep in mind the share-ability component of your content. Not only does increased social sharing bump up your SEO, it helps you generate more leads, foster a better reputation, and create a buzz around your business. So grab your water bottle, strap on those oversized shin guards and go score yourself a social media marketing GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLL!

Good luck to Team USA! For scheduled games and times, check out FIFA’s official website.

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 Tags: Content Marketing Search Engine Optimization Social Media Marketing

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