How to Increase Customer Engagement in Your Online Community: 6 Lessons from the World Cup


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Increase Customer Engagement in Your Online Community

It’s hard not to get caught up in an international event like the World Cup. There’s an innate sense of camaraderie that seems inevitable when, suddenly, we all have an entire country to root for. No longer are our sports allegiances divided by state, region, or high school. Events like the World Cup put us all on the same team.

There must be something else to it though, right? Every four years, we turn into a nation of soccer watchers—when most of us probably haven’t paid much attention to the sport since the last World Cup. People take off work. Sports bars are packed to capacity. Even people who don’t even seem to enjoy watching soccer are now completely engaged.

And wouldn’t it be great if you could bottle up some of that enthusiasm and use it in your private online customer or member community? While some of the reaction to the World Cup is just the excitement of an international sporting event, there’s also still a good degree of marketing going on.

Let’s take a look at some of the engagement tactics that are working for the World Cup and see how you can put them into practice for your online community.

How to Get World Cup-Level Engagement in Your Online Community

Lesson #1) Cater to Your Core Audience.

Even though it seems like soccer fandom comes out of nowhere for a lot of World Cup viewers, there are some people who have been patiently counting down the days since the last Cup.

They’re the ones that wake up at odd hours of the night to stream games with their favorite Premier teams. They know about all the players—not just the ones that become American heroes every four years. They’ll get just as excited for the Champions League cup. They’re year-round soccer fans.

These fans are the core audience of the World Cup. Their enthusiasm can motivate someone who has never watched a soccer game in their life to use up a vacation day to watch USA vs. Germany.

Catering to your core audience is a great strategy to build engagement because these are the people who are most engaged already. By building your relationship with them, you can capitalize on their excitement to keep your community active. This group of advocates’ passion will also raise the level of engagement of other community members. Create programs and content that engages your core tribe and let the nature of group mentality work to bring others into the fold.

Lesson #2) Leverage Images and Videos.

Almost immediately after happening, video footage of a goal or a great crowd reaction seems to be edited and made into a commercial meant to breed excitement around the next day’s events or somehow sell something completely unrelated to the sport.

Many more people are on social networks than during the last world cup. These videos and images go viral and become visual evidence of the experience we all had together.

This might go without saying, but it’s always worth repeating that highly shareable images are a great way to get your customers or members engaged with the content of your community. Short clips and visual social media are more likely to get higher numbers of shares and clicks that text based content due to how easily digested they are.

Lesson #3) Be Inspired.

Did you see this commercial featuring the Chilean miners? It takes the power of another countrywide unifying event—the terrible ordeal the miners went through—and uses that unifying passion to inspire action against seemingly insurmountable odds.

In the content you create and the discussions you host within your community, try to capture a vein of inspiration. When your passion comes through, it helps to inspire other people.

Lesson #4) Develop a Narrative.

Much of the reason the World Cup is able to captivate those of use who are only soccer fans every four years is the ability to build a narrative around individual countries and players. We learn about them and their struggles and suddenly we’re invested.

By putting things into context for your community members and building a narrative around the purpose and history of your community, you can give people a reason why. Paint them the bigger picture. They aren’t just member of a community, they’re participating in the larger scope of your industry or organization. Help them see why that’s meaningful.

Lesson #5) Create an “Us vs. Them” Theme.

Sports show us the true power of having a common “enemy.” Suddenly, we’re all in this together because we’re all on the same team. Regardless of what you may or may not have in common with the guy at the next table over in your favorite bar, you’re probably going to high-five him when your team gets a goal.

For this mentality to work in your online community, you don’t have to necessarily have a group of people you’re against. Your adversary can also be an abstract concept you’re working against. Maybe your company sells software and you’re fighting against inefficiency. Maybe your organization is lobbying for better schools.

Your “enemy” doesn’t have to be an actual rival organization to see the benefits of a group mentality. Just remember, nothing creates an “us” like a “them.”

Lesson #6) Connect in Real Time.

When the United States scored their game-winning goal against Ghana, social media nearly exploded. By reacting in real time, people were able to be “together” in what happened in the moment, even if they were actually thousands of miles apart.

Give your community members the tools to connect during events as they are happening. For instance, if you tell audience members at the big CEO talk that they need to turn off their cell phones, you’re missing a big opportunity to engage with your community beyond just the attendants in the room. Capitalize on the momentum of breaking news.

Customer Engagement Takeaway

Whenever an event manages to capture the attention of such a large group of people, there are always lessons about community engagement to be learned. Study what’s working to unite soccer fans around the world and see how you can put those practices into play for your online customer or member community.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joshua Paul
Joshua Paul is the Director of Marketing and Strategy at Socious, a provider of enterprise customer community software that helps large and mid-sized companies bring together customers, employees, and partners to increase customer retention, sales, and customer satisfaction. With over 13 years of experience running product management and marketing for SaaS companies, Joshua Paul is a popular blogger and speaker on customer management, inbound marketing, and social technology. He blogs at


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