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November 20, 2016

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Social authenticity breeds authentic engagement

December 8, 2016



That’s the buzz word when anyone suggests how best to use social media. And they’re not wrong.


But the catch is, you can’t produce authenticity. That would be inauthentic. It just happens. The magic ingredient is to ensure you are in a place to maximise the authenticity when it occurs.  

It was actually during Rugby World Cup 2015 that this really hit home. We had some very skilled people involved, illustrators, graphic-designers, video editors and social media experts ready to capture those moments. We expected them to happen, they always do at sporting events in some capacity.


What surprised me was that the authentic behaviours off the pitch mixed it with the two biggest moments on it – Japan beating South Africa and New Zealand winning a back-to-back Rugby World Cup.


Whether it was Sonny Bill Williams giving his medal to the boy who ran on the pitch, or the same player putting his arm around Jesse Kriel after their semi-final, the Romanian scrum-half proposing to his girlfriend. These moments showed character, they showed identity, they were relatable. All ingredients to make any campaign authentic.


It was the same in the Olympics, another shock Japan defeat was right up there, and Fiji’s first-ever Olympic medal, sure. But the biggest talking point? Well that would be the Rio 2016 tournament manager proposing to her girlfriend who had just finished competing in the Games for the Brazilian Rugby Union.


I spoke on a panel at SoccerEx recently looking at this topic and one of the panellists from BBC Sport shared that their most-engaged and viewed piece of content ever online was the Brownlee brothers, with Alistair carrying Jonny over the finish line, which had authenticity in spades.


Authenticity in social media means to have an identity, show character, and be relatable.


That’s what we took into the Dubai Sevens, the first-ever after the Olympic Games, and it was interesting to see how it enabled even more authentic content.


Having launched the first-ever Snapchat story for a women’s sevens event outside of the Olympic Games we saw that the athletes loved something a little bit different. Rather than the standard ‘how do you think that match went’ questions, we decided to engage the players and ask them to use their favourite Snapchat filter for World Rugby’s accounts. They loved it, and the fans loved it! Authenticity breeds authenticity, both as a rights-holder, an athlete, or a fan.  


Being able to breed authenticity is a skill that starts with relationships. Having been invited into the Fijian changing room after their Cup final defeat to South Africa, what unfolded was worth sharing and showed the power of the human connection


Uganda and Fiji had been sharing a changing room in Dubai all weekend. Olympic gold medalists and series debutants. In many sports you’d rarely get any sort of connection, let alone be sharing a changing room.


Fiji re-entered their changing room after the final with their heads down - they didn’t like losing. But what followed, well it was magical. The Fiji captain and general superman stood up and looked at each Ugandan in the eye and said that like them, they came from very little, and before we knew it they were all singing in unison, with enough fire in that room to ignite transformation.







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