Is there any sport more social than Rugby? It is widely regarded as one of the toughest games on the planet and its high-speed, hard-hitting nature earned it the moniker of “a hooligan’s sport played by gentlemen.” But rugby also offers one of the most fun-loving, welcoming atmospheres on the global sports landscape and social media is playing a growing part in the sport’s success. With the 2015 Rugby World Cup in full swing, we look at some social media campaigns and marketing lessons from #RWC2015, the six-week celebration of all things rugby.
Social is the new (All) Black
With the New Zealand All Blacks, people expect the absolute best when it comes to rugby—including on social media. The New Zealand All Blacks are the #1 ranked team in the world and have built a reputation as the most dominant rugby nation in history. They are the gold standard in rugby and their social media performance isn’t far behind.
While not entirely focused on the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the social media elements of the All Blacks ‘We Belong’ campaign are a perfect mix of Kiwi culture and digital design. Their social media strategy is meant to reach broad audiences and they have been successfully increasing their international fan following with the hashtag #TeamAllBlacks.
The ‘We Belong’ campaign uses culturally inclusive messaging and multiple social media touch points to draw people together around sport and cultural diversity, traits so characteristic of the tiny nation. In order to ‘belong’ to #TeamAllBlacks, users are simply asked to sign on using one of four simple methods. The All Blacks cut through the process as quickly as Julian Savea cuts through most backlines. In return for signing up, users are given exclusive offers, prizes and behind the scenes information on the All Blacks throughout the Rugby World Cup.
The New Zealand All Blacks brand transcends the bounds of the nation and its population. There are almost as many people interested in what the All Blacks are up to on Facebook (3.2 million) as those in the Rugby World Cup Facebook page (3.6 million). The All Blacks are as big a brand as the World Rugby itself and a social media darling during the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Social Media Marketing Lessons from the All Blacks
1. Draw on your brand’s values or cultural past to inject meaning and a personality into your campaign. This will help you reach a larger audience.
2. Create contests with giveaways tailored to appeal to your audience.
On social media ‘Every Voice Counts’ for Team England, even in defeat
Led by team captain Chris Robshaw, the Red and Whites from England went into the Rugby World Cup ranked third in the world but were soundly thrashed on home soil by both Wales and Australia in the tournament round robin. Though they lost on the field, when it comes to social media, Team England were absolute pros at engaging with fans. The team used the perfect combination of sentiment and social media strategy to create their winning campaign—‘Every Voice Counts.’ The campaign tied the country’s love of Rugby to their enthusiasm for sing-alongs.
At the center of the team’s World Cup campaign is the classic rugby song ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ famous for its connection to Team England’s past successes. As part of the campaign, people are encouraged to record their own versions of ‘Swing Low’ and share them with the world via the team’s social media platforms. The multi-channel social media campaign, centred on the hashtag #CarryThemHome, uses video-based, user-generated content to build sentiment and anticipation for the Rugby World Cup.
While the formula for beating the mighty Australians (#StrongerAsOne) might have eluded him on the rugby pitch, social media savvy team England coach Stuart Lancaster understands the importance of social etiquette. In a strong display of social media management in rugby, he handed out a package of social media guidelines to all players before the tournament. The sport has its fair share of scandals so it’ll be interesting to see how well those guidelines do at stemming the off pitch antics of the team, especially after the crushing loss to Team Australia. Regardless of the result on the pitch, England can hold its head up high for its social media strategy at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Social Media Marketing Lessons from Team England
1. Leverage the power of consumer generated content to make your social media campaign viral.
2. When multiple team members post using the same social channels, define ground rules of social media usage to protect your brand.
World Rugby builds a powerful ‘Social Hub’
Especially interesting is the site’s ‘Social Hub’, which aggregates snippets from across all World Rugby social media platforms. In its first week, the World Cup generated so much buzz that it became one of the most spoken about sports events on the planet. It came close to surpassing the total volume of mentions generated across the whole duration of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
During the opening match #RWC2015 trended all day, reaching 15 million mentions on Facebook, 300,000 on Instagram and driving 181 million page impressions on the website with content delivered in four languages. The official app, available via the iTunes store, has been downloaded by 1.5 million fans.
Social Media Marketing Lessons from World Rugby
1. Pick a hashtag that is easy to remember and captures the theme of your campaign
2. Not all of your content has to be original. Be smart about reusing content
Put these social media marketing lessons to use and create a social media marketing plan for your business.