FIFA World Cup 2014 In January, I wrote about the alleged ban on social media at the Olympic Games in Sochi and the upheaval that athletes and fans created at the mere mention of a social-free event. Oh, how times have changed… With the FIFA World Cup now on the global stage, all eyes (and hashtags) are on arguably one the biggest singular events in social media history.

According to a recent article from Variety Magazine, the World Cup is set to break the social media record for most mentions ever and will “surpass the Super Bowl and Olympics in total social mentions and retweets by tournament’s end.” During Sunday’s game between the United States and Portugal, approximately 8 million tweets mentioning the tournament poured in during the 90-minute match.

U.S.-Portugal FIFA World Cup Game Blows Up Twitter

So what’s the secret to FIFA’s social media success? Often times in public relations, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what drives social engagement. Following the World Cup’s example, these four tips can boost engagement for any client or brand:

1. Make it relatable. Love it or hate it, soccer is something people understand and can relate to. When people collectively relate to a singular topic or event, barriers like language, culture and status are no longer an issue.

2. Find your followers’ passion. Across the globe, soccer is more than just a sport—it’s a way of life (think Texas and football). Even in some of the most destitute and remote places of the world, you can find people with a true passion for the sport. The World Cup and arguably social media, has given people the chance to follow and express their passions when they other wise couldn't.

3. Tell a compelling story. What soccer represents and what it invokes across so many different cultures really makes for a compelling story. When you’ve got a winning product or brand that has a compelling story affixed to it, people are going to talk about it.

4. Time it right. For social media, it’s all about timing. Even if your client has a compelling story that people can relate to and are passionate about, it’s critical that you know what’s trending. Even though the World Cup is blowing up Twitter right now, people probably won’t be talking much about it two weeks from now. Timing is everything.

From a public relations standpoint, the World Cup is an example of social media done right. It has all the hallmarks of a successful campaign and embodies more than just a sport. When you take something that people are passion about, tell a relatable, compelling story and time it just right, all of a sudden 8 million mentions in 90 minutes seems like a walk in the park.

Photo courtesy of Charles Kerr, via Flickr