August 5, 2010

USA Bid Committee having a ball keeping its fans engaged

The World Cup ended nearly a month ago. And FIFA won’t award the 2018 and 2022 World Cup host cities until December.

So if you’re the USA Bid Committee, hoping for one of those two coveted selections, how do you keep the casual and hard-core soccer fan excited and engaged in the interim?

Keeping fans involved is a big issue for a lot of sports that have gaps between big events or rallying points. Most Olympic sports fall in this category. The key is creating compelling content and a reason for people to engage on an ongoing basis. has faced this challenge since the site was launched, and it has more than met the challenge every step of the way.

An opportunity to win an autographed soccer ball, signed by the U.S. men’s national team, is the latest lure. That’s what the folks at are offering for the low, low price of inviting five friends to sign up and support the bid. Its goal is to get a million fans to back the effort. The autographed ball is the perfect short-term vehicle to help reach its goal, add to its database and extend the scope of its viral campaign.

It’s another smart effort by the committee, which is working on the behalf of the U.S. Soccer Federation in its effort to bring the World Cup back to the U.S. With more than 917,000 people having already signed the petition, breaking the million mark is a sure bet.

That number stood at 450,000 in June and has steadily grown since. By the time the committee enlisted Landon Donovan, the U.S. national team’s biggest star, to challenge U.S. fans to reach a million supporters a month ago, that number had swelled to more than 750,000. That leveraged the surge of interest in the wildly popular World Cup in South Africa.

The bid committee has consistently appealed to and relied on fan engagement as a core tenet of its website. “America’s Soccer Story” is a three-minute video that is a paean to the passion of its fans. It also boasts a sea of user-generated photos on an endless wall, a moving monument to those devoted to the sport, from coast to coast. In addition are the necessary mainstream elements -- all given prominence on the site -- like a blog and badges for Twitter and Facebook.

It is a blueprint with a lot of valuable lessons for other sports and other sites.
U.S. Soccer
World Cup

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