Is Social Sharing A Massively Growing Marketing Channel For The Sports Industry?

Shea_CrowdedThe rise in social media platforms over the last five years has meant that these platforms are now prime real estate for marketing campaigns. Sports firms have not shied away from this environment and have been running innovative campaigns to collect user data and personalize their campaigns. This operation hopes to maximize conversion rates and create loyalty between the customer and the brand. I’m going to take a look at the data behind social sharing and analyze just how Adidas have approached it as a marketing channel.



Case Study – Adidas

Adidas are a German sports brand who design sports apparel, shoes and equipment. SimilarWeb PRO shows that they average just over 6 million views per month which is very healthy and means they have a great marketing approach.

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Traffic to between Jan 2014 – June 2014 by SimilarWeb PRO

At present, SimilarWeb PRO illustrates that only 5% of their desktop traffic comes via ‘Social’ sources. This sounds small, but in January 14 Adidas managed to pull in half a million viewers from social sources. It’s also interesting to note that all this traffic was purely organic – minimizing any overheads due to it’s reliance on customers to spread the word. This indicates that it’s a channel which can’t be ignored.


Social traffic to from Jan 2014 – June 2014 by SimilarWeb PRO

SimilarWeb PRO gives you the power to analyze exactly where all this social traffic is coming from; Adidas receive the majority of their traffic from Facebook, YouTube and Reddit. The marketing campaigns on these three sites are obviously working pretty well, but take a look at Twitter – less than 8% of their traffic comes from that source. Either not enough focus is being put on Twitter or the strategy isn’t right for this brand.

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Breakdown of Social traffic sources from Jan 2014 – June 2014 by SimilarWeb PRO

Sharing Buttons

The Adidas store provides a simple to use social sharing menu which allows users to tweet, email or share any product that catches their eye. This moves the product from the store into the world of social media. The potential audience then multiplies instantly and draws new consumers into the conversion funnel. It’s a clever move by Adidas as it reduces resources on the marketing team as user generated content enters the social media sphere. Basically, they relate to their products same as a blogger would related to his posts – high quality media/content that is worth sharing.


Adidas Store share option

A big event for the sports world, this year, has been the 2014 World Cup. Adidas’ campaign involved the slogan ‘All In Or Nothing’ and used #allin to spread the strategy through social media. It was a brave campaign as it was essentially asking its audience whether they were #allin or #nothing – reflecting the dedication required to succeed at the tournament. The campaign was a wild success over the course of the tournament and boasted figures such as:

  • 1.59 million conversations (most popular brand involved with the tournament)
  • 5.8 million new followers across social media platforms
  • 917,000 uses of #allin on Twitter (most popular brand hashtag involved with the tournament

The beauty of tournaments such as the World Cup is that they unfold live in front of a huge audience. Adidas’ social media team took full advantage of this during World Cup 2014. During the France vs Germany match, for example, the team worked hard throughout the match to provide real time marketing – in this instance they prepared a Vine video of the winning goal as well as a picture of Mats Hummels. This was ready with five minutes of the match left and landed immediately after it had finished. The brand was instantly attached to something the world was searching for. It’s a fascinating approach and one which is really exciting for the sports marketing arena.

Organic Vs Paid Sharing?

100% of the traffic generated by social sharing for Adidas is by organic methods. This traffic is generated by a number of means as SimilarWeb PRO highlights – there are YouTube videos featuring Lionel Messi and the Adidas brand (complete with links) as well as links to Reddit accounts concentrating on male fashion and links to Adidas products. YouTube is a big draw for traffic, so concentrating on social campaigns is imperative to keep the traffic flowing. Setting up good relationships with the people behind Reddit accounts e.g. sending new products to them to review could also help enhance traffic levels. Facebook contributes most social traffic to Adidas and this takes the form of promotions such as fan pages for Lionel Messi, pages featuring details of specific ranges and themed aspects of the brand – all of these can be shared and liked to advertise products. There’s no paid social sharing at present, so maybe Adidas think it’s not necessary in the arena of sports sharing. However, carefully planned campaigns can bring in high quality traffic, so it can’t be ignored entirely.


Sites referring traffic to Adidas between Jan 2014 – June 2014 by SimilarWeb PRO

To Share Or Not To Share?

Adidas has shown that there’s an exciting potential for the use of social sharing in the sports industry. Although Adidas receive less than 5% of their traffic via social sources, they were able to drive over 1.5 million conversations on social media about their brand in just 4 weeks. Figures like that are jaw dropping and the buzz created will only have positive effects for the brand. The potential for real time marketing also opens up interesting avenues which allow instant brand promotion. Connecting sports stars such as Lionel Messi to your content can provide a real boost to your brand due to the trust already invested in the personality of the star.  Social traffic, however, still returns haphazard peaks and troughs from one month to the next for Adidas. Identifying which social strategies drive these peaks is essential to create a highly successful marketing channel from social sharing. This gives you the power to push your brand well and truly into the 21st century and embrace the benefits that social sharing can bring.

About the Author -

Ari is the Sr. Director of Corporate Marketing at SimilarWeb. He has spent the last decade in ad-tech working on the agency side of the business before jumping over to Kenshoo where he launched their marketing activities. He also led the marketing for Adquant, a Facebook ad platform, making it a top 10 Facebook PMD prior to its acquisition.

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