At approximately 2:27 p.m. EST, on Sunday, April 14, Twitter erupted.
At that exact moment, Tiger Woods sank a two-foot putt, winning the 2019 Masters and successfully completing one of the sports world’s most remarkable comebacks.
Just minutes later, Nike dropped a 52-second video on its social media channels starring the golfer. In a matter of moments, the video was viral – garnering more than 26 million views on Twitter and another 13 million on Instagram. Three times as many people as Nike has total followers viewed, shared, and commented on the posts.
Nike’s tweet wasn’t all that special, when you think about it. It was just a quick video, a short caption, and a hashtag. The video even lacked a narrator, it was just a collection of clips from Tiger’s past and a pretty standard music bed. Nowhere in the tweet did Nike even congratulate the golfer.
The words that flashed across the screen along with the video’s images simply read:
It’s crazy to think a 43-year-old, who has experienced every high and every low and has just won his 15th major is chasing the same dream as a 3-year-old. Just do it.
It’s exactly that script and what the tweet didn’t say that made it so viral.
Undoubtedly, Tiger Woods is one of the most accomplished athletes in the world. His success on the links is internationally recognized, and the failures in his personal life have become just as public. He has played both the hero and the villain of his own story. People love to love him, and people love to hate him. And people really, really love to talk about him.
Once Tiger made that putt, millions of tweets – recognizing everything from his incredible comeback win to those above-mentioned personal shortcomings – were shared. Nike took full advantage of that. Their tweet simply contributed to the conversation. It was a conversation that they didn’t start themselves, so they didn’t try to control its narrative. Nike’s content was specific to Tiger Woods and incredibly relevant in the moment, yet just broad enough that people were able to take the content and make it their own.
People quoted and shared Nike’s tweet as they added their own opinions and gave their unique takes on the situation. As they continued to contribute to that global conversation, Nike’s tweet earned more and more impressions and its video collected millions of views.
Nike is a global brand, so it’s sometimes easy to assume that each piece of its marketing strategy is supported by millions of dollars worth of research and creative. That’s probably true. But, at its core, Nike’s very simple and very viral tweet can still serve as a lesson for all marketers, regardless of the size of our businesses, our budgets, or our clients.
Here are some common themes of a successful tweet that we can all take away:
- Interact with your followers and attract new fans by participating in the global conversation
- Increase engagement by sharing original, highly relevant content
- Make that content more shareable by limiting how “salesy” it is
- Don’t try to control the narrative, join a conversation and let your fans, your content, and your do the work
Nike did all of the above. Its homage to Tiger wasn’t just a congratulatory nod. It was a well-timed, calculated yet simple, extremely successful social media marketing effort – one that deserves just as much recognition as Tiger’s historic victory.