Samsung judged the winner of the Rugby World Cup Twitter battle

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Top sporting events are a perfect platform for major brands to reach a vast global audience and the Rugby World Cup has been no different so far – almost 12 million people tuned in to watch Wales beat England at Twickenham alone, according to broadcaster ITV.

Plus, with the growth of second screening – people engaging with social media while watching sport on TV – there are even more opportunities for marketers to grab the attention of prospective customers.

A number of brands have invested heavily in social media strategies for this Rugby World Cup and WePlay, a London based digital agency specialising in sport, has measured how successful four of the most high-profile – Samsung, Guinness, Beats by Dre and Heineken – were during the group stages of the tournament.

Here’s the verdict:

Winner – Samsung

England Rugby sponsor Samsung with its @SamsungUK account and #samsungrugby campaign was judged the winner by WePlay for several reasons.

It came out on top when it came to mentions, with over 10,000 in the four weeks of the pool stage and it was able to maximise its reach – the potential audience for a post – with content that was shared widely.

The key to its success was a partnership with World Cup broadcaster ITV using Twitter Amplify – a way of publishing real-time in-tweet video clips. 

Here’s an example from September 19th:

This reached 113,000 people through ITV, before accelerating in shares to reach a further 815,000, demonstrating the massive social influence it was able to build, WePlay’s director Luca Massaro said.

Another tweet sent out 10 days later during the England-Wales thriller, was “poignantly timed” and reached over 2.1 million people.

“Samsung’s partnership with ITV has proven to be a particularly effective and wise decision, generating incredible reach and sparking a buzz of conversation on social platforms,” says Massaro.

It also benefitted from retweets of its instant replay posts by former footballer Robbie Savage and TV presenter Davina McCall.

Not quite over the line – Heineken

Heineken, which paid a reported £20 million to be an official partner of the Rugby World Cup, got 9,261 mentions for its #itsyourcall campaign but its content was not shared in the same way.

In total, its messages had a potential audience of about 14.2 million but spread to only 5.7 million during the first four weeks of the contest, WePlay’s data reveals.

It did, however, get a fillip from a mention from broadcaster Piers Morgan who was in the company’s corporate box during the opening match.

Runner-up – Guinness

Non-sponsor Guinness had a better ratio, having built on a possible 2.5 million-strong audience and spread its content to 4 million.

Massaro put this down to an ability to “pick up on the massive marketing potential of the vocal Irish rugby support, without even explicitly mentioning the 2015 Rugby World Cup in their social strategy.”

“Guinness’ clever advertising and marketing strategy has led to the creation of social content that drives at the heart of their core constituency, generating timely reactions and stirring an emotional response,” he added, noting that the brand received a huge amount of positive mentions and shares.

Still, Guinness couldn’t manage the same impact during non-Ireland games, barring the South Africa-Japan nail-biter, when both rugby fans and newcomers to the sport were captivated by the action.

Hit the posts – Beats by Dre

Beats by Dre and #TheGameStartsHere was tied to its video advertising featuring England captain Chris Robshaw and New Zealand counterpart Richie McCaw.

It had a sizeable potential audience of about 9.6 million, but its content only spread to 4.9 million.

More tellingly in WePlay’s view, was sentiment data showing that its content had an “overwhelmingly neutral impact”.

“The findings reveal an important conclusion: social media content, when done purely for the sake of advertising, tends to fall flat of expectations because there’s very little reason for fans to feel connected or want to get involved.”

Final score

WePlay’s research and analysis has implications for brands trying to harness the power of social media and sport, particularly with the Rio Olympics and Euro 2016 around the corner.

The key takeaway, Massaro said, is that strategies that tapped into fans emotions appear to have been the most effective, especially when pitched at the correct time, typically as the action is unfolding.

“We can see just how powerful emotional storytelling is for brands trying to build on their campaigns and connect with global audiences across social media.”

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October 23, 2015 |
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