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What #WorldCup2014 Teaches Us About Social Media at Events

June 23, 2014

150 million tweets were sent during the 2012 London Olympics (more than 2012 US elections and Super Bowl combined), something no one expected at that time. It was named the first truly social Olympics, and social media networks – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – became the breaking news platforms for news organizations and Olympic fans alike.

Fast forward 2 years, and Ellen DeGeneres breaks the record with over 3 million retweets of her star-studded Oscar selfie. While the selfie alone garnered 32.8 million views, up to 3.3 billion Oscar related tweets were recorded during the course of the telecast.

There is no doubt that social media has become the companion medium for those participating in marquee events. In the multi-screen, multi-channel era, consumers no longer consume programming from one source. They are sharing the highs and lows via social media networks, engaging with like minded individuals, and celebrating or commiserating as part of a global community.

#WorldCup2014 conversation levels on Twitter and Facebook are already reaching new highs – with CBS saying it’s already bigger than the Olympics and Superbowl combined! 19 million social mentions were tracked before the first match between Brazil and Croatia, while 12.2 million tweets about the game alone was sent out across 150 countries post-match.

Eden Hazard #worldcup2014

Congratulatory tweet by Eden Hazard for Brazil winning goal most retweeted Friday morning.

Knowing this World Cup would be the most social event in history, both Facebook and Twitter created dedicated pages on their platforms to track #WorldCup content shared (here and here) and to serve as hubs for tournament fans.


Facebook and Twitter both released World Cup 2014 pages

Facebook and Twitter both released World Cup 2014 pages

Social media has and will continue to reshape the landscape for marquee events – with brands as the primary beneficiaries. Brands continue to invest heavily in sponsorship for events such as these as it makes commercial sense for them to do so. Over the past 20 years, Nike and Adidas have earned $1.9 billion and $2.4 billion in soccer revenue. In addition, Visa has also revealed that expenditure during World Cup 2010 hit $176 million in South Africa and that promotions associated with events like World Cup or Olympics Games delivered 20% higher return on investment.

So how is social media changing marketing for these events?

Nike and Adidas campaigns for World Cup 2014.

Nike and Adidas campaigns for World Cup 2014.

Besides the usual World Cup sponsors, we also see non-official sponsors like Beats by Dre release commercials starring football icons Neymar, Mario Götze, Jozy Altidore and Chicharito. The 5 minute video by Beats received 17 million views within its first week, and created so much attention that the headphones are now banned by FIFA and are ‘everywhere in Brazil – except on the pitch’. The amount of news coverage thus far shows just how a successful brand campaign can drive significant attention for its products, by leveraging these events without having to be an official sponsor.

Beats unofficial at #worldcup2014

Beats unofficial at #worldcup2014

So what can us as marketers learn about the use of social media from #WorldCup2014? How can we apply strategies to drive sales and ROI for future marquee events? We see three key evolutions/revolutions that we’ll track over the next little while:

1. content development and creative perspectives
2. community management
3. paid media strategies

In follow up posts I will include observations and learnings from this year’s event on those three themes, as well as strategies that can be applied by brands to leverage for future events – whether large or small. Back soon… just have to run off to see a replay of that heart-breaking Portugal goal again…


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