Social Media

Social media

Soccer tweets from the outfield, end zone, court and hockey rink

Dr Michael Goldman

Mr Orry D. Night

Posted: June 24, 2014

Mike Trout is an American professional baseball outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of the Major League Baseball, is better known as “The Millville Meteor” after his New Jersey high school performances, and is highly regarded after his 2012 breakout season and American League Rookie of the Year Award along with consecutive runner-ups in the Most Valuable Player Awards. With Trout’s new Nike line of baseball cleats, he is revered as the face of the sport. On Monday June 16th, however, Trout and his Twitter handle @Trouty20 became one of a select group of high profile MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL sporting ambassadors for a different team… the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team.

Trout’s tweet before the U.S. team’s opening game against Ghana read: “Let’s go @ussoccer!! Make us proud. We are behind you!! #USMNT #WorldCup #OneNationOneTeam.” Importantly, the tweet included a graphic with his name and Angels number on a U.S. soccer jersey. The resultant 1,161 retweets and 1,941 favorites Trout triggered provide an interesting glimpse of U.S. Soccer’s well timed and executed social media strategy. Mike Trout was joined by the NFL Arizona Cardinals’ wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, whose 1,76M American football followers (@larryfitzgerald) were also encouraged to get behind the team. Fitzgerald’s fellow Twitter ambassador colleagues, who would typically be more familiar with touchdowns than throw-ins, included Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) from the Washington Redskins, and Nick Mangold (@nickmangold) from the New York Jets. Soccer fans that responded, such as Heather Irwin in Phoenix (@hisoccerchic) voiced their “love” for the “support across all the sports!” while a number of NFL fans echoed the call to follow their team at the World Cup.

U.S. Soccer’s campaign is an excellent example of the amplification and leadership role that social media can play, especially in a sport marketing context. In early 2012, Roxane Divol, David Edelman, and Hugo Sarrazin, from McKinsey’s offices in San Francisco, Boston and Silicon Valley respectively, provided a useful framework to map social media marketing opportunities, including monitoring, responding, amplifying, and leading consumer responses. Beyond the basic functions of quietly listening to what everyone is saying about your brand online, real engagement begins when the brand responds to customer service or crisis management queries. Earlier this year Kevin Filo from Griffith University and Dan Funk from Temple University provided a number of examples of how professional and college sport teams have used social media technologies to monitor and respond.

The U.S. Soccer’s #OneNationOneTeam campaign pushed their strategy further by enabling selected social media influencers to advocate for the #USMNT brand, at the exact moment that U.S. Soccer wanted a broader TV viewership than just traditional soccer fans. By designing and providing the personalized and branded graphics, and then encouraging athletes such as Anthony Davis (@antdavis23), forward for the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, to promote their support within their specific sport and team communities, U.S. Soccer was successfully stepping above domestic team and sport rivalries to unite a greater number of sport fans behind their #USMNT. In the case of Davis, who even offered to lend some ‘air support’ against Ghana, the tweet saw NBA fans within New Orleans and beyond retweet their backing for Clint Dempsey’s men.

In a country where American football, baseball, basketball and ice hockey dominate the sport fan landscape, these targeted jersey graphics and the advocacy of some of the stars of those fields of play, positioned the USA team at the World Cup as a brand that everyone could proudly and justifiably support. With a personalized Men’s Nike USA 2014/2015 Home Stadium Jersey being promoted on the U.S. Soccer Store for $115, this social media strategy also neatly leads into a targeted product launch.










About Dr Michael Goldman

Dr Michael Goldman (@michaelmgoldman) is an Assistant Professor with the University of San Francisco’s Sport Management Master’s Program and an Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science. Michael assists students, managers and clients to enhance their abilities to acquire, grow and retain profitable customers and fans.




About Orry D. Night

Orry D. Night (@onight) is a second-year master’s with the University of San Francisco’s Sport Management program. Orry is currently interning at baseball agency Beverly Hills Sports Council while learning and studying trends in the sport and entertainment industry.