iGo2 have been monitoring the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand (#RWC11) and there is a significant amount of “Social” activity related to the event as shown in the dashboard below.

However, we also tracked a few major sponsors being ANZ Bank, DHL, Heineken,and Mastercard. By most standards being mentioned 50 times in association to the Rugby World Cup must be a viewed as a Social failure and lack of an integrated social strategy; specifically with reference to partner leverage. The pie chart below reflects the brand mentions in relation to RWC11 or Rugby World Cup.

There’s a huge opportunity for social media in the sports industry. By and large, sports teams and leagues have focused on marketing – marketing the brand, marketing the stadium, marketing individual players, etc. – what they can (and should) do is turn more attention to community building so that even if the on-field product isn’t great (read Australia versus Ireland), they have a community of real (instead of fair-weather) fans who will support it. Perhaps that “Owned” Social Community approach would have more brand equity for sponsors too?

We the looked at the conversations related to five International Teams which shows the conversations are taking place around specific teams.

However, these conversations are traditionally in the free Social Networks. Our advice is that sports teams should be investing in online communities and hiring online community managers, just as they’ve hired offline community relations teams. Sports teams should be facilitating and encouraging these online communities, not just marketing to them.

Clearly some opportunities to deliver an integrated Social Strategy for The Sponsors, The Game, The Players, and The Teams. Do you have experiences delivering social outcomes in the sports industry? If so we’d love to hear your thoughts.