Social Media and the World Cup: A Digital Phenomenon

Nivene Judeh
Jun 6, 2018 · 4 min read

The biggest sporting event in the world has finally arrived: The FIFA World Cup! This event, which is held every four years, will take place in Russia and begins on June 14. 32 countries participate in the Group Stage with 16 teams advancing through several stages until only two teams are left to battle it out for the world title. The final game will take place on July 15.

FIFA stated that 3.2 billion people watched at least one minute of a match during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.¹ With almost half the world watching the World Cup, it’s no wonder the 2014 World Cup was the biggest social media event ever to that point.² Even in the United States, where soccer is less popular than other sport, U.S. web users spent a total of 847 years and 143 days engaged with FIFA content.³ An event that large connects fans across the world through more than one medium.

The World Cup is also a huge event for brands, not just fans. Many brands participate in World Cup Twitter chats and have brand specific hashtags. Official partners can use the FIFA and World Cup logos. For example, brands like Coca-Cola have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram dedicated to special campaigns for the tournament. Coca-Cola sponsors the World Cup Trophy Tour and posts photos and videos from around the world. In-house, we’ve shared a photo from a 2014 Australia match. Brands who are not partnered with FIFA or the World Cup cannot use the official logo or branding in any capacity, as is common in most sports tournaments.

For the 2018 World Cup in Russia, social media networks were vying for the opportunity to show match highlights. While Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook offered tens of millions of dollars for streaming rights to the World Cup, Fox Sports chose to collaborate with Twitter and Snapchat. Twitter will stream a 30-minute live show each match day. The live show will include soccer stars like Alexi Lalas and Landon Donovan. Twitter will also show almost-live highlights of every game. Snapchat will share videos and exclusive behind-the-scenes content as well as reactions from fans around the world.⁴

Before and after the last World Cup, Twitter released YouTube videos in both Portuguese and English sharing the official hashtags, videos showing brands how to follow World Cup coverage as well as recap videos to build excitement. During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Twitter introduced “hashflags.” When a fan tweets a three letter hashtag (#BRA or #ESP), the country’s flag appears next to the hashtag. The final match of the 2014 World Cup World Cup between Germany and Argentina spurred 618,000 tweets per minute, many including these hashflags.⁵

Of course, FIFA and the participating teams will also engage on social media with their fan base. The official FIFA World Cup Facebook page and Twitter accounts post countdowns to the start of the tournament and post interesting facts each day. With a worldwide event such as the World Cup, FIFA has to be sure to reach all corners of the world. The tournament achieves this by maintaining Twitter accounts for many languages including Arabic, Spanish, German and Portuguese. During matches, both the official World Cup Twitter handles and the Twitter handles for the participating squads will update fans with play-by-play tweets.

With a global event like the World Cup, one of the easiest ways to stay close to fans is with Social Media. There are a variety of channels both FIFA, teams and brands can use to keep fans abreast of what is happening. With the Social Media build-up of this World Cup, there is a good chance it will surpass the 2014 World Cup and become the biggest social media event ever.

¹ Associated Press, “2014 World Cup Final Attracted 1.01 Billion Viewers, FIFA Says,” ESPN, December 16, 2015, accessed May 16, 2018, http://www.espn.com/soccer/world-cup-soccer/story/2759180/fifa-reports-101-billion-viewers-for-2014-world-cup-final.

² Doug Gross, “World Cup Walloped Social-media Records,” CNN, July 14, 2014, accessed May 18, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2014/07/14/tech/social-media/world-cup-social-media/index.html

³ Doug Gross, “World Cup Walloped Social-media Records,” CNN, July 14, 2014, accessed May 18, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2014/07/14/tech/social-media/world-cup-social-media/index.html

⁴ Terry Collins, “You’ll Be Able to Watch World Cup Action on Twitter and Snapchat,” CNET, January 09, 2018, accessed May 18, 2018, https://www.cnet.com/news/twitter-snapchat-fox-sports-world-cup-highlights/.

⁵ Doug Gross, “World Cup Walloped Social-media Records,” CNN, July 14, 2014, accessed May 18, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2014/07/14/tech/social-media/world-cup-social-media/index.html

Enova Studios

Enova Studios is a full-service in-house creative agency. We partner with our brands to concept and create the ideas - big and small - that accomplish our shared goal: selling our products and building our business.

Nivene Judeh

Written by

Chicago PR & Social Media gal. Loves concerts, coffee and chasing down the cupcake truck. Will never turn down a new pair of shoes. Smiling is my thing. :)

Enova Studios

Enova Studios is a full-service in-house creative agency. We partner with our brands to concept and create the ideas - big and small - that accomplish our shared goal: selling our products and building our business.

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