11 June 2010 | Tanya Goodin

World Cup kick-off – time for FIFA to reach out online


When the controversial new ball is kicked for the first time competitively at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg today, the biggest sporting event in the world will be underway.

Online and offline, millions of fans will be tuning in to watch or listen to hosts South Africa take on Mexico.  The World Cup captures the imagination like no other tournament.

Yet, the organising body, FIFA seems reluctant to reach out, engage and deepen its relationships with the audience that supports it. Tamar’s Sports Index Vol 2, just published, indicates that FIFA has failed so far to utilise any of the major social media platforms to connect and engage with football fans.

To us, that seems like a missed opportunity of some scale while at the same time offering online lessons for brands everywhere. You could argue that FIFA is so massive, so global, that online engagement is unnecessary but I think that no brand is too big to ignore this crucial element of marketing.
Brands that want to drive a truly successful online marketing campaign will always win by playing the long game, rather than a quick five-a-side – exciting though that is. This is a team approach where SEO works with social media engagement and conversion-focused web design to deliver consistent, effective results.

Our latest Sports Index shows that while FIFA has made inroads with search it does not have longevity in search matches, which is a key to building brand engagement. In search brand positioning, FIFA has been way behind generic terms when associated with the World Cup, which are between four and seven times more popular. The highest volume keywords associated with the competition in both South Africa and Germany four years ago are generic, rather than FIFA-specific.

At the same time, countless brands are associating themselves with the World Cup through the various search engines and social networks. To date, FIFA’s social efforts have to date been minimal.
The world of search is evolving rapidly and brands need to be aware that SEO really does embrace social media and conversion-focussed design. One element alone will not deliver the long-term results they need.

This means paying strategic attention not only to classic SEO analysis but also to engagement with consumers (fans) wherever they play on the social networks. It also means paying continual attention to delivery of fresh, relevant and useful content, along with those “social objects” we all love to share.

Do read our research paper and let us know your views.

Tanya Goodin

Tanya Goodin

Founder of Tamar