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Despite stalled growth in China, Brazil and Russia, a wave of newly middle-class travelers from the BRICs and beyond will start visiting international destinations in the coming decades — dwarfing the numbers we’ve seen thus far.
Although the World Cup’s partners and sponsors have larger audiences than travel brands, there is still a huge opportunity to take advantage of, during this major second screen event. Much of the success will be about being in the right moment.
Besides football teams, sponsors, and stadium personnel; airlines, airports and destinations are gearing up for the opening game of the 2014 World Cup this Thursday in São Paolo, Brazil.
Twelve cities — Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Cuiabá, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and São Paolo — are prepared (or still preparing) to host the world’s best football players and cater to their fans. Brazil is poised to attract more tourism dollars, and travel brands have the opportunity to take advantage of this event on social media before, during, and after each match and the tournament — whether they’re in Brazil or not.
In a study published by Catalyst titled, “Sports Fans: Digital Media Habits,” brands are 50% more active on Twitter than Facebook on game day, while Facebook and Instagram are the preferred audience platforms to share content before and after the game.
Twitter rules this space because much of social TV interactions is real-time and its platform is inherently more interactive and more public. Since the World Cup is more of a global event, it is important to keep in mind that most Brazil and England football fans are on Facebook rather than Twitter.
A word to the wise, real-time marketing is a high risk and high reward proposition. Take caution when associating your brand with the “World Cup,” players, and its affiliates. Here are the real-time marketing trends that we expect to see executed with brand visibility and engagement goals in mind:
Brand Newsrooms and Approvals
Brands and their respective agencies are creating 24-hour newsrooms fully staffed with creative, community managers, strategists, and legal to stay on top of conversations, identify emotion-charged moments and carefully execute on-brand responses. Andrew Cunningham, lead community manager at Brooklyn-based digital agency Huge says, “it’s really all about being relevant, so when the opportunities appear and it makes sense to join the conversation, brands will be there … now more than ever, brands are prepared to act on any emerging event.”
Brand-Sponsored Group Selfies Shared by Influencers
Coca-Cola is one of FIFA’s partners. Paul Dwan, Coke’s head of assets and experiential stated, “In real-time, there were 2.3 billion consumers engaging with the World Cup in 2010. This year it’ll be more like three billion. The biggest difference will be the need to be real-time rather than pre-planned.”
That said, expect to see real-time social media plays from brands who are sponsoring the World Cup in addition to influencers like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ricardo Kaka, Neymar, and Ronaldinho Gaucho. Can you feel a group “selfie” coming on akin to Ellen Degeneres’ art directed Oscar photo by Pelé and Ronaldo sponsored by Emirates Airlines?
Indexed Content Via Event-Related Hashtags
Conversations about the #WorldCup spiked by 400% to 100,000 tweets/day and #CopaMundial grew by 200% from 100 tweets/day in the last month, while #Copa2014 skyrocketed from its 2,000 average daily tweets to 15,000 tweets/day. #Soccer also increased by 200%, averaging 12,000 tweets/day while #soccer remained constant at roughly 20,000 tweets/day.
This sporting event has the potential to be the most multi-lingual social media event in digital marketing history. Brands who have English, Spanish and Portuguese speaking team members will broaden their reach and have a higher likelihood to increase acquisitions and engagement.
Integrated Campaign Conversations
iCrossing’s white paper on “Understanding Search and Social Media Impact of the World Cup” cited that most of the World Cup sponsors in 2010 did not take full advantage of engaging their audience on social media with their campaigns. This signals an opportunity for travel brands to capture and engage football fans.
Emirates Airlines is the only travel brand that is a FIFA sponsor. It concurrently launched its official Twitter account and #alltimegreats campaign with a YouTube video at the end of March. As of today, it’s growing at 470 followers/day; two of ten tweets are replies; and eight tweets contain #alltimegreats.
Emirates Airlines Twitter Follower Growth
TAM Airlines Twitter Follower Growth
Brazil’s official airlines for the World Cup are TAM Airlines and Gol. TAM Airlines is growing at 471 followers/day and is pushing their favorite players through #devoltacomaTAM which translates to #backwithTAMairlines. At this present time, Gol is not active on Twitter.
With the LATAM Airlines strike set to coincide during the opening game in São Paolo, TAM Airlines needs to be ready to deal with displeased travelers on Twitter to save it from losing followers it worked hard to grow. If this labor tactic is not averted, Guarulhos Airport will also be negatively affected. This could be a blessing in disguise if both companies play their cards right.
Visit Brasil’s Twitter Follower Growth
Visit Brasil grows 48.1 followers/day. Their current user generated campaign promotes #theworldmeetsinbrazil and #copadascopas. It will be interesting to see if the host cities’ DMOs will leverage this sporting event to increase their social media presence.
Be in the Moment
Match schedules, England’s team, player favorites, and World Cup music were the most searched topics in 2010, reported iCrossing. Programming content around these terms will help travel brands maintain their audience’s interest in the World Cup while affording its newsroom the time to focus on closely watching the game. Timing is everything. Plot your content efforts alongside FIFA’s match calendar.
The World Cup ends on July 13. We look forward to keeping track of the social activity generated by travel brands on our dashboard. Which topics and games are your respective brands targeting for social media victory?