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Social Media Newsrooms And Sporting Tournaments – Our How-To Guide


It’s not only football teams that compete at the World Cup and Euros. They also become hotly contested battles between brands, each eager to outdo each other with clever social marketing and reactive content. With the evolution of tournament marketing, is the ‘newsroom’ model the best way to activate in 2018?
The structure and delivery of social content needs to reflect the seismic shift in consumer behaviour we’ve seen in the last four years – from passive viewers to active digital participants, eager to tell their story. Every moment in a fan’s tournament life – from morning punditry to late-night beers – is snapped, shared, liked & lol’d.

More importantly, it needs to deliver a meaningful brand experience for consumers – an area of marketing that has become a hotbed of creativity and cutting-edge innovation.

Too often football sponsorships tread predictable territory, relying on big name assets and leaving social reaction to game results, not insights. Brands often spend time chasing fame at the expense of deeper engagement or a cohesive campaign. However, with the right newsroom set-up and approach, they can do all these things. Here’s how:


Social Media Newsrooms: No Longer Just ‘Chasing the Moment’

When the lights went out at 2013’s Super Bowl, Oreo’s famous ‘dunk in the dark’ tweet became the most talked about moment in reactive social history. This had brands asking: could this happen every week? The reality is that true “large-scale” reactive moments are rare, and too much time is spent chasing them at the expense of insight-led content. A newsroom set-up will allow an amount of ‘flex’ between reactive and predictive content, but the most success comes when this is combined with consumer truth and insight – getting closer to the things people care about.

Large FMCG brands have taken note, with Coca-Cola’s North American newsroom finding creative based on insights around how people felt about the Rio Games was 26% more likely to be shared or viewed than those posts that did not. Looking at a key EURO2016 moment and insight – we knew people wanted time off to watch the England v Wales game, scheduled for 2 pm in the middle of a work day. The nation’s bosses were in a bind, with media headlines predicting a drastic spike in sick days.

How did we react? By creating the fake committee C.A.R.L.S.B.E.R.G (Committee against Real Life Situations Blocking England’s Rallying Games) and publishing scientific ‘proof’ that productivity increases with a #90minutebreak for workers during the game. The result? Employees tagged their bosses on social and companies signed on to the initiative across the country. This created a win-win for the brand and consumers, going beyond just broadcasting by creating a meaningful place in their everyday lives.


That’s not to say quick reactive can’t drive reach – co-created between TMS and PR agency Clifford French, we instigated a real life wager between Carlsberg and Iceland supermarkets ahead of the England v Iceland game.


Technology Enables Closer Connections

The nature of sports marketing means social content will naturally vary. The value of a newsroom approach means brands can hit consumers at every tournament touchpoint – from ‘big scale’ video pieces, PR stunts, short-form social content and game-day reactive.

However, too often brands take a ‘scattergun’ approach at the expense of truly engaging consumers with the campaign. The closest connection an audience can have with an idea is when they become an active part of it. When we launched #SubMeOn during EURO2016 the aim was to put fans directly on the subs’ bench, making them feel part of a bigger team and tapping into their tribal nature.

Social DMs were used to interact with the digital ‘bench’ at key moments, delivering content and acting as a rallying call for fans to drive user-generated content – ready to sub their small TV for a big one to watch the game, their England shirt for one signed by the team and many other EURO2016 experiences, creating a coherent and consistent engagement point across the campaign.


Find your Authentic Voice

With their newsroom approach to the last World Cup adidas achieved the highest social share of voice of any sponsor, backed up by big name footballing assets. However, in reality, access to players is rare and can seem inauthentic coming from certain brands – what’s right for adidas isn’t right for everyone.

Influencers can help fill this gap, they provide the authenticity and reach in place of a TV campaign or big name players – with a recent study from Musefind finding 92% of consumers trust recommendations from influencers more than celebrity endorsements.

What’s the key to success? Picking influencers closely aligned with your brand values and giving them the creative freedom they crave. Clifford French recommended using YouTuber Spencer FC during EURO2016, and his authentic voice and dedicated social following drove over 2.7 million YouTube views as opposed to scripted brand content.


Pick your Metrics

While engagement and reach are important, content ultimately needs to ladder back to the only metric that matters – sales. There is no magic formula that will guarantee them. But by being highly creative and entertaining in how we use product and promote consumption occasions, we increase the chances of social delivering against ROI. With EURO2016 we used humorous ‘beer reminder’ posts to do this job at key consumption occasions. Our previous reactive response to the London tube strike was picked up and embedded in the top story in the Daily Mail online, proving you can drive reach and brand fame with product still at the heart.

As technology changes, tournaments become more connected and fans crave authenticity, brands need to find their voice and pick their moments with planned and reactive content. A newsroom set-up does all these things, ultimately delivering a meaningful social experience driven by insight, rather than just broadcasting and hoping for the best.

If you’d like to hear more about our approach and how we could help your brand in any area of social marketing, please get in touch!


Harry Taylor