FIFA, Nike, Adidas, Budweiser, VISA, Coca-Cola: Real-Time Global Crisis Comms in Action

Watching the FIFA crisis comms reactions from the sponsoring brands is an interesting study of how little control we have over our brand story in today’s real-time communications ecosystem. But does that change anything?

What the FIFA?

Unless you’ve been holed up somewhere without an internet connection, you probably heard tell of the FIFA corruption scandal this week that has several of its top-ranking officials in custody and/or facing extradition on charges of corruption, bribery, and various other charges that one typically associates with, you know, the mob.

Speaking of which, the world “goodfellas” showed up in FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s social word cloud yesterday, and it would seem for good reason: somehow, despite the size and scale of this scandal, and the UK Prime minister directly calling for him to step down, and global sentiment like this…

…Blatter still managed to win today’s vote and be re-elected as FIFA President. And this is bad news for FIFA’s brand sponsors, from a social and brand sentiment perspective:

Guilty by Allegation – and Association

The social sentiment over the past few days is clear: people want the sponsors to put their money where their mouths are – or, more accurately, to not put it there. Negative sentiment for all the brands involved with FIFA has skyrocketed with overall chatter volume (which is astronomical), and one incredible thing to note here is that Nike – who is actually implicated in the scandal – is now generating less chatter overall than some of the other brands, most notably Adidas. This isn’t to say that Nike isn’t experiencing a bona fide crisis comms moment: they are, and their sentiment is more negative than ever. But the ongoing chatter is focusing on other sponsors, perhaps because the public at large has already passed judgement on Nike (and found the company guilty), while we’re still waiting to see how the other brands respond.

When I dug into the data around some of the big sponsoring brands, the story was pretty consistent: they’re all over each other’s data, as people lump them all into one party and call on them to do something about it. This is the Coca-Cola word cloud measuring social chatter over the past three days:

The Shot Heard ‘Round the World

We’ve never seen anything quite like the FIFA scandal. This is a global depth charge and mushroom cloud in one, bringing up all sorts of unrelated grievances while at the same time affecting anyone in its path. Example:

This is a scandal that has not only business implications, but geo-political ones as well: Vladimir Putin showed up in the FIFA word cloud yesterday after speaking out to both condemn U.S. authorities and offer his support of Sepp Blatter, and then social media exploded with reaction to that. Of course, Putin potentially has something very big to lose from this scandal: the 2018 World Cup is set for Russia, and its bidding process is now under investigation. England has already threatened a boycott of the event.

Putin’s statements are among the most clear and decisive of anyone involved, however.

The Traditional Crisis Comms Playbook in Action

What’s been really interesting to watch for me, from a marketing perspective, is how FIFA’s sponsoring brands have handled a global crisis communications situation that is, to an extent, completely out of their hands – or is it? The public outcry calling for the big brands to pull their sponsorship money would indicate that consumers aren’t blind to the fact this entire scandal was fueled by money, and dollars speak louder than words when it comes to big business.

Despite the extensive calls for action, not a single one of the sponsoring brands fingered by millions of tweets – and that includes Nike – has done anything beyond issue a static statement that lives on their website. There has been no news of sponsorships revoked, nor has there been any social media activity at all: this is, quite simply, not a conversation that these brands want to have at this point. VISA’s official statement says this:

Visa became a sponsor of FIFA because the World Cup is one of the few truly global sporting events with the power to unite people from around the world through a common love of football.

And, indeed, the truly global nature of soccer is the double-edged sword in this scandal. This is a conversation that’s being had all over the world, in dozens of different languages, and that conversation is actually growing: the 28th saw twice as much chatter (and that includes negative chatter around the sponsorship brands) than the 27th did, and with Sepp Blatter’s re-election it would seem that this isn’t a topic that folks are going to let go of anytime soon.

But of course, it’s the weekend. And it’s summer. And history will tell us that people have short attention spans. And so, the fact that these global brands are sticking to a tried-and-true playbook of “wait it out” isn’t surprising. The question from a marketing perspective is whether or not this scandal, which is so unlike any we’ve seen before in terms of its global reach and scale, will fade away without any real consequences for FIFA’s sponsoring brands (or its President. Or Nike). And if it continues to grow, will these brands have to engage in conversation with their customers? Will they take any assertive action to repair their reputations?

For now, the question that’s on everyone’s mind can be summed up in a single tweet:



Building a Social Media Strategy in 10 Easy Steps [Part 2]

And so we continue our adventure in the Land of Oz, and finish the construction of our own yellow brick road with the last 5 steps towards building a social media strategy. For those who missed the first 5 steps, the post can be found here.

6- Build a community

When it comes to our social following, remember that quality is better than quantity. It can take some time to build a successful community that is both targeted and rich with engagement. We all have to start from somewhere and the below tips may be helpful in picking our social media strategy up off the ground:

  • Use relevant hashtags
  • Share content on targeted groups on LinkedIn
  • Follow those who follow you
  • Interact with industry influencers

All of these things are easier to find with a media intelligence tool (hey, we make one of those) that helps you find exactly what you need to find.

7 – Be social on social

Since the evolution of social media, it’s much easier and faster for our audience to get in touch with us directly. Many of us have technology to hand, whether it’s on our phone, tablet or computer. Accordingly, we should be integrating after sales service into our social media strategy. We can even use social as a focus group as explained in a previous blog, social listening can unearth all kinds of trends to inform our social media strategy. What better way to retain our audience than involving them in decisions.

8 – Use social media to generate leads

Lead generation can also be fulfilled with a well thought social media strategy. That doesn’t mean to say we should be blurting out sales pitches on social. Rather, with the use of media intelligence tools we’re able to find prospects and direct them to landing pages. Certain software solutions can also track folks through our sales funnel.

9 – Measure social media strategy success

So how do we know if our social media strategy is working? By analysing data for example post click-throughs, brand impressions and engagement levels. We can then adjust our social media strategy – if necessary – according to results. One key to social media strategy success is to find the right ingredients and differentiate. Easier said than done? Not necessarily! If we have specific information about our market, its trends and influencers, the mission becomes very achievable!

10 – Take your time

As they say, falling to plan is planning to fail. Building a flourishing media strategy takes time, but if something was easily achieved it wouldn’t be half as valuable, right?  If we are equipped with the best tools, achieving success is ever more possible. But ultimately, what we really need is time, patience and practice.

Brand Equity Part 3: 4 Steps Towards Building Brand Credibility

Brand credibility can provide significant value to businesses. For example, credible brands have an increased chance of building loyal relationships, bouncing back from a crisis, and benefitting from less price-sensitive customers. For those of us who don’t have a century of experience under their belt, here are 4 tips to get started.

1) Better Media Analysis Leads to Better Coverage

Positive media coverage in well-respected publications are endorsements for our brand – and as such are a sure way of improving brand credibility. Today’s communications programs are about getting the right coverage from the right person (whether that person is a journalist, a blogger or a social media influencer) – and that means that we need to find the folks talking about the right things to the right people. With that in mind, building a media list isn’t about beat or publication anymore, but rather about how that person’s influence can move our brand story forward. Figuring that out requires big data media intelligence that can steer us in the right direction. For example, finding a journalist who’s written positively about our industry is a lot more powerful than finding one that works for X publication.

In addition to finding our influencers, we should also look at our competition to see what’s working for them from an earned media standpoint.

Here is an example of a competitive benchmark search analysing mentions of River Island and Topshop in the media. We can take analysis a step further to improve brand credibility by zooming in on the differences in sentiment and key themes via a conversation cloud. We then know what to avoid/ improve on in order to receive positive press.

(You can try a competitive benchmark for yourself using the free search engine on our homepage.)

2) Jump on the Content Bandwagon

There are a number of ways in which creating content improves brand credibility. For example, content marketing can help position our brand as a thought leader, attract interest from desired publications, improve SEO and offers us a means of telling our brand story. We should be getting involved in the below forms of content to improve brand credibility:

TIP: Work with your corp comm, PR and social media departments to make sure that everyone is aligned on strategy and telling the same story.

3) Be (Consistently) Transparent

Honesty really is the best policy. Trust and transparency are critical drivers of brand credibility that we must nurture and respect. We can increase brand credibility by working on consistency. A brand relationship is a promise, and once that promise is broken it’s hard to put right.

The most obvious case for building trust is truth in advertising: if we guarantee 16 hours of battery life in our advert, well, our battery better deliver. But brand trust goes both wider and deeper, from things like what customers expect from our customer service departments, what array of merchandise we might carry in any given store, or what sort of articles we’re writing on our company blog.

4) Keep Your Ears Wide Open

Listening is about inviting engagement – and to do that, we need to be approachable and accessible. Building brand credibility via listening can be as simple as showing that we care by acknowledging and taking feedback on board. All good conversations start with listening: just like in real life, we improve our relationships with people when we understand their point of view. The flipside of this, too, is that people will talk about our brand elsewhere (such as on blogs and forums) if we’re failing at communicating with them. Social intelligence tools can help us make sense of conversations online by finding conversations about our brand, competitors and industry.

Get the Edge in EdgeRank: 5 Facebook Marketing Tips

What’s Facebook Edgerank?

Put simply, Edgerank is the algorithm that Facebook applies to our content to determine what’s going to show up for users in their Newsfeed. Facebook continually tweaks this algorithm for one purpose, and that’s to spur quality engagement from its community.

Over the past few years, Facebook has made a lot of changes to both its policies (e.g. banning fan-gating) and to Edgerank that have made it harder for brands to get in front of the folks that matter to them. With that in mind, here are 5 tips to keeping your edge:

1) Avoid Click-baiting Titles

Click-baiting is when a post provides a link to click without any real context as to why that person should be clicking on the link. You might notice that Facebook article shares provide a blurb that lets the reader know what they’re about to read, and for good reason: Facebook has noted that both text and context are a better user experience (read: more successful at encouraging engagement).

2) Go for Comments and Shares

That thumbs-up just isn’t what it used to be: virality is going down for post likes. Facebook will give more weight to weightier engagement, and in Facebook real estate that means comments and shares. But how? Read on…

3) Share, Don’t Sell

The overall trend with Facebook’s algorithm and policy changes are to penalize brands for being too overtly promotional in their posts. Facebook users aren’t generally amenable to seeing “buy this” CTA’s in their newsfeed – and Facebook itself doesn’t have anything to gain from brands making sales from free real estate. With that in mind, sticking to a good content marketing strategy of being entertaining, useful or otherwise engaging is the way to go here.

It’s important to note that you don’t just have to post your own original content. Sharing content from your target influencers, for example, is a great way to engage them and engage your community in one post.

4) Go Multimedia

People like to watch videos; this, like cats and bacon, is a consistent internet theme and probably not going to change anytime soon. Remember, you don’t have to just share your own videos; Facebook is chock full of videos being shared, so finding the ones that are already trending and sharing them with your community is a great way to leverage multimedia content without the heavy lifting of creating it.

TIP: if you’re posting your own video, consider putting subtitles on the screen. Facebook auto-play means that some folks will turn their volume down in the workplace, so you may need to hook them with a catchy title and the subtitles.

5) Use Trending Topics Wisely

Edgerank takes note of both what trending topics are, and when they’re trending. This means that content written about those topics in a timely manner will be prioritized – as long as the posts are actually adding value to the conversation (read: not committing any Facebook content sins). Some folks might call this “headline jacking,” but I’m not a huge fan of that concept: it’s much more me-focused than community-focused. If you have something interesting to say about the topic, and your post is adding a unique perspective to the conversation, go for it. If you’re posting for the sake of hitching your wagon to a shooting star, forget it: it’ll annoy your community and be severely penalized in reach.

Below is a screenshot that shows you how to find those trending topics when you’re logged in as yourself.

At the end of the day, a good Facebook marketing strategy is one that just has people acting like real people. When in doubt, thinking about how we share on our personal feeds is a great way to keep ourselves honest.

Any other Facebook marketing tips? Feel free to share in the comment field.


#MarketingMinds Chat Insights- Brand Loyalty


Brand loyalty is something we should be striving to achieve. As such, we thought it was fitting to host a #MarketingMinds chat based on this subject. Here are key insights from the chat.

Q1. How do you define brand loyalty?

@AdotIdotspace defines brand loyalty as the tendency of repeatedly buying from the same brand.  However, @ThinkSEM and @hdojcinova believe that brand loyalty is more than that, as in some cases our audience do not consider other brands in their peripherals. Meanwhile, @Bokang_zanzu comments that brand loyalty can take the form of brand trust, in particular when the audience trusts an organisations vision and mission and buys from them because of this.

Q2. Why do we become loyal to certain brands?

?@hdojcinova states that brand loyalty can form due to the quality of offering. Once we come across a product or service that has reached our perceived quality standards, we become loyal… because if its working then why change it? @AdotIdotspace explains that some people are loyal purely because they are afraid of changing. Some think changing takes more effort than they are willing to invest, whilst others are creatures of habit or are afraid to enter uncharted territory due to a lack of reassurance.

Our audience may also show brand loyalty due to customer service or branding that aligns with their lifestyle and values. Moreover, as @ThinkSEM explains, brand reputation and awareness can act as a comfort blanket, with some consumers opting for a certain brand that is pricier because of the fact that it’s well known.

“Ultimate brand loyalty is given to brand that manage to enhance our lives, instead of adding to the clutter of useless information.” @KatarinaWright

Q3. What brand activities can result in us becoming disloyal?

For @ThinkSEM, poor customer service or failure to solve problems are big issues in disturbing brand loyalty. Meanwhile @cvvj’s pet hate is when brands offer extra discounts to a new customer, whilst @akathmadevi considers a compromise in quality as one major issue that results in brand disloyalty. @Spectreoutreach suggests we stay clear of setting a price without aligning this with perceived value. @JanilJean adds that disillusionment of brand perceptions can also contribute to decreased brand loyalty. We can avoid this by constantly monitoring key brand themes using media intelligence platforms to ensure our audience’s perceptions are in line with our brand message.

Q4. How can we find brand advocates?

@ThinkSEM comments that knowing our audience is half the battle. Luckily, with the help of social listening tools, knowing our audience is made that much easier. @akathmadevi and @hdojcinova state that listening tools are a great way to find brand advocates. Meltwater’s Media Intelligence platform allows us to manage our community so that we can take note of our die-hard fans and identify those who could do with a little nurturing. As @simonlp and @cvvj suggest, this can be achieved through pin pointing those who defend our band publicly in times of crisis.

Q5. How can social listening increase brand loyalty?

@akathmadevi explains that social listening helps us to be attentive and when customers appreciate our efforts, they show brand loyalty. @Spectreoutreach agrees expressing that engagement and being proactive with feedback are sure ways of increasing brand loyalty.

@ThinkSEM sums it up: “By listening you can engage. By engaging you can build a relationship. Then you can build brand loyalty.”