By Michael Langman and the AR Team
Over the past month, UEFA’s EURO Tournament has been generating tons of buzz across the social web. Featuring some the world’s most celebrated and recognizable national teams, it’s easy to see why the EURO qualifies as the world’s second-biggest soccer. Yet heading into this week’s semifinal matches, the two favorites, Germany and Spain, presented an odd contrast. Spain, the reigning champions, had generated more conversation on Twitter than any other team, while Germany, one of the early favorites to win the tournament, had generated the least.
On its surface, the lack of discussions surrounding the German side may seem strange. The Germans play a highly enjoyable brand of football, one that had led the tournament in scoring entering this week, and the team breezed through arguably the toughest competition to get to this point - they emerged from the so-called Group of Death, which featured well-regarded teams from the Netherlands and Portugal, without so much as a tie.
The reason illustrates an important fact about social media, which is that a brand’s overall ability to drive conversation is deeply reliant on the popularity of its individual parts. Out of the top ten EURO 2012 players on Twitter, five of them play for the Spanish national team. Many of the players on the Spanish national team play for top clubs in the wildly popular Premier League, arguably the most famous soccer league in the world. By contrast, almost all of the German talent plays in the Bundesliga, an extremely competitive (but far less widely watched) league in Germany.
The global popularity of the Premier League is largely responsible for the other reason Spain has created so much buzz: athlete marketing. Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas has graced the cover of GQ, defender Gerard Piqué is dating the global pop icon Shakira, and midfielder Xabi Alonso is a spokesman for Hugo Boss. In short, the Spanish national team is filled with international celebrities, while the German team is not.
So for all the attention paid to to the peaks and valleys of Twitter conversation during matches, the real work that goes into winning on social media happens before the big game. It’s about cultivating and leveraging the connections you already have.