World Cup Hashtag Marketing: Lessons To Learn

by Filip Simonovski and Dan Mazzini

With the World Cup behind us, it is time for social media marketers and analysts to take a step back and look at what can be learned from this great event, where we have seen some awesome examples of brand interaction.

As a starting point, we created a map of all the important hashtags that played a role during the event.  To create this map, we started from the top hashtags obviously related to the event, like #WorldCup, #WorldCup2014, #Brasil2014, and then added all the hashtags that are related to all of those according to our hashtagify.me data. Finally, we removed the most obvious spammy or non interesting hashtags, and focused on what happened in the Anglophone twittersphere. You can see the results of this work in the screenshot below (click to go to the full interactive version):

World Cup Visualization

As you can see, even with all the pruning we did, the map is pretty big – and full of interesting data. But we wanted to focus on a social media marketing point of view, so, for this post, we selected the campaign that, in our opinions, offers the most useful insights for hashtag marketers.

Seizing the Moment: A bite turned into Marketing Gold

Creativity and fast reaction times are crucial to get the most out of any big event, where there will always be at least some unexpected and funny moments. For this last World Cup, the top such moment was when Uruguayan star Luis Suarez bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during the Italy-Uruguay match. And, among the many marketers who tried to capitalize on that moment, the most successful were those working for Snickers.

What Snickers did with the famous attempt of cannibalism showed a great idea, and, even more importantly, a great execution. Shortly after Luis Suarez “had a taste” of the Italian player, they posted this on their Twitter account:


Snickers Hashtag Campaign

That tweet alone got over 47k retweets and over 21k favorites. Why was it so successful? Of course, the fact that @snickers already had more than 51k followers helped, and the fun built into the message was good and absolutely necessary. But a winning move was to use just the right hashtags, in just the right way: #worldcup to intercept fans of the event in general, #luisuarez to intercept and relaunch the hot topic of the moment, and #EatASNICKERS to link it all to their own hashtag campaign.

An even smarter move by @snickers was not to promote their own campaign hashtag in the visual that accompanied the tweet; they instead promoted the #LUISSUAREZ hook. This way, Snickers prompted fans to spread the message to the whole audience organically interested in the bite, creating a doorway to a bigger fanbase than that already following the brand. And they also reinforced the hook hashtag of their choosing – #luissuarez – against all the competing hashtags that were being used for the bite.

The results? Just look at the top 10 hashtags related to #luissuarez, directly from hashtagify.me:

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#EatSNICKERS isn’t just the only campaign hashtag to be in the top 10; it is also the second most correlated one (as shown by the thickness of the link) right after #WorldCup itself!

Was this beneficial to the Snickers campaign? Let’s get back to our general map, but focusing around the #EatASNICKERS hashtag:

Map

When we analyze this hashtag more carefully, we can see that, riding the #WorldCup and #LuisSuarez wave, #EatASNICKERS managed to also revitalize some older Snickers campaigns, thus increasing the interactions for @snickers even more:

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Here we can see the correlation between #EatSNICKERS and other Snickers campaigns, including a very old one named “Not going anywhere for a while?” that was mentioned during the match. That means that Snickers managed to link the fans from their older campaigns with this new one.

Ok, we managed to see how are hashtags connected with each other, but now, let’s have a look at how these hashtags rose thanks to the event. In the picture below we can see that by using their campaign #EatASNICKERS, and combining that hashtag with #luissuarez when the famous “bite” happened, Snickers really hit the bull’s eye with their campaign, also gaining 4k followers in just 2 days.

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Counter-Examples

Snickers of course wasn’t the only brand who tried to ride the biting wave. But it was definitely the most successful one.

Bud Light tried this:


Bud-Biting-hashtag

As you can see from the number of retweets and favorites, their success was much smaller than Snicker’s, even if they had many more followers at the time – 74k to @snicker’s 51k. @budlight didn’t work as well with hashtags: They didn’t include any in the visual, and also in the tweet itself the choice was pretty poor. #ITAvsURU was great to reference the match, but it was bound to die off immediately after that. #LuisSuarez was the stronger one, both before and after the match:

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Listerine also did a great job with the copy – the funniest in our own opinion – but there is no visual, and the only hook hashtag was the very general #WorldCup:

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The results? Pretty limited:

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One last example, with a nice visual, but a bad use of hashtags:
MLB-bite-hashtag

As you could see, just focusing on a small part of the whole analysis got us some great insights. To sum it up, these are the lessons to learn from this analysis:

  • Big events are a great opportunity for brands who want to increase their reach
  • Great timing and good humor are winners
  • Visuals are very important
  • Choosing the right hashtags can make the difference between a great splash and a moderate blip

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