Recently, the Women’s World Cup Final drew record numbers for a soccer match – men’s or women’s – and once again kicked off the discussion about the ongoing narrative surrounding the place of women’s sports role in a male dominated field.
To delve deeper into the issue of narrative storytelling, the role social media can play in extending the discussion and how corporations leveraged the opportunity, I conducted a brief Q&A with Natalie P. Mikolich. Natalie is the 2016 Chair-Elect of PRSA’s Entertainment and Sports Section and current manager of the section’s social media channels.
Shawn: Live tweeting during sporting events generates a tremendous volume of conversation. For the Women’s World Cup Final, was this the case? If so, what were the most prevalent themes? What was the most popular hashtag, and were any corporately driven?
Natalie: The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup generated a tremendous amount of conversation on social media, with a reported 9 billion tweets seen on and off Twitter from June 6 through July 5 (via Twitter data).
During the final game, the most prevalent topics of conversation were Carli Lloyd’s hat trick, the importance and meaning of Title IX, and how the U.S. Soccer National Women’s Team are role models for the next generation showcasing that it’s OK to “play like a girl.” Concluding the game, there was an outpouring of congratulations and celebratory tweets.
Throughout the final game, there were numerous hashtags used on Twitter, including several that trended nationally such as #USNWT, #SheBelieves, #OneTeamOneNation, #WWCFinal2015, and #TitleIX along with #PlayLikeAGirl. Of the most popular hashtags, it did not appear any were generated or driven by brands and companies, although Nike seemed to be incorporating their #betterforit and #nomaybes campaign into their social media posts.
Shawn: Were there any notable brands that took advantage of real-time / post-game opportunities to not only join the social media conversation, but also promote their brand organically?
Natalie: Fanatics capitalized on this the most, taking advantage of the new Twitter “buy button” that reportedly led to them seeing a 3,000 percent increase in U.S. Women’s Team sales on Sunday, July 5 (compared to Saturday July 4). In addition, Nike immediately began promoting their “three stars” jersey (to signify the three FIFA Women’s World Cups the U.S. Women’s Team has won), along with pushing out images of their “World Champions” T-shirts.
Other brands that joined the conversation included SELF Magazine with their timely new July issue titled “Play Like A Girl,” along with VISA congratulating Carli Lloyd, who will be a part of their “A New Generation Inspired” campaign for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.
Shawn: Similar to amateur sporting events like the Olympics, there is always a wave of patriotism and celebration. Two days later, is this continuing or has the buzz already quieted?
Natalie: Following the incredible buzz that surrounded the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final, things have quieted since Sunday night. The U.S. Women’s Team kicked-off their traditional media campaign right away, with team members staying up until almost 4:00 a.m. PST in order to do interviews with “Good Morning America.” To keep the momentum going, hopefully the NWSL (U.S. women’s pro soccer league), sponsors and players will find a way to continue to drive the conversation.
Shawn: Some media personalities have noted this as a seminal moment for Women’s sports and empowerment of young female athletes. With Always’ “Like a Girl” campaign being a prime example of how one brand can leverage the narrative, do you foresee any other companies jumping to the forefront of this movement?
The FIFA Women’s World Cup Final had enormous reach on social media and brought in record TV audiences, with a reported 25.4 million viewers. (This makes it the most watched soccer match in U.S. history; it also beat the viewership of ALL of the 2015 NBA Finals Games.) It will only be a matter of time before other companies, brands and organizations try to get more involved in this movement.
We should take notice of organizations such as the non-profit I Play Like A Girl (a 2015 grant recipient of the Women’s Sports Foundation) who are trying make a difference with the launch of their programs, social media campaigns and messaging, as well as some of today’s biggest male athletes (Kobe Bryant, Andy Roddick, Robert Griffin III and Dale Earnhardt Jr.) who are joining in the conversation via social media.
Natalie P. Mikolich, is the 2016 Chair-Elect of the PRSA Entertainment and Sports Section. Natalie has worked with a variety of national businesses in different industries ranging from sports, fitness, health, beauty and luxury lifestyle to non-profit organizations and special events in addition to world class professional and Olympic athletes. Along with this, Natalie has provided public relations services for some of the leading global sports and entertainment agencies. Follow her on Twitter @npmikolich.