On Thursday, June 12, Todd Spangler of Variety reported that the 2014 FIFA World Cup "is expected to be the most-social sporting event ever globally", generating record setting levels of coverage and discussion on social media sites such as Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. People in the greater Spokane area who follow soccer have the opportunity to share their love of the sport with people all over the globe during the tournament.
According to Spangler, "Worldwide, this year's World Cup will surpass the Super Bowl and Olympics in total social mentions, according to a study by Adobe Systems. The phrase 'World Cup' alone generated 19 million social mentions since June 2013 so far in 196 countries, scoring wider reach than the Super Bowl or Olympics.
"The study analyzed pre-World Cup buzz and sentiment across social sites including Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. The global report looked at more than 69 million social mentions in 230 countries and territories related to the tournament’s teams and players."
Spangler added that, in spite of soccer's growing popularity in the U.S.--especially among Millennials--only seven percent of Americans plan on closely following this year's World Cup according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos survey. According to the Adobe study, only 20 percent of the total social media content about the upcoming games has been coming from the Americas. In spite of these low statistics, Spokanites will be able to follow their favorite teams both on regular broadcast television and on the Internet.
"In the States, ABC/ESPN and Univision Communications will broadcast all 64 matches on various channels during the event, which runs June 12 to July 13. In addition, both programmers will stream every game online and to mobile devices, along with a complement of other original digital content," Spangler said.
In addition to watching the games, there are a lot of things fans can do on their computers and mobile devices to help them get in the World Cup spirit. There are online games such as a fantasy league competition sponsored by McDonald's that gives people chances to win prizes such as a Kia Soul, Sony Xperia Z2 mobile phones, replica team jerseys, and copies of the 2014 FIFA World Cup game for the Sony PlayStation 3 from EA Sports. YouTube has a channel devoted to the tournament called FIFA TV that features highlight reels, videos about the histories of the teams that made the finals and plenty of other content to help people get up to speed on this year's tournament. Fans can also go to Facebook or Twitter to see more fun stuff or download the official FIFA app.
On Wednesday, June 11, Twitter sent out an email to everyone with accounts on the popular microblogging site highlighting some of the ways that people can show their love for professional soccer. If Twitter users choose their favorite teams, they may customize their profiles with a variety of images and header photos, real-time scores and highlights. That same day, Shauna Rempel of the Toronto Star gave an overview of other things Twitter is doing during the tournament.
According to Rempel, "Twitter is hoping to gain a piece of the second screen action during the 2014 World Cup with hashflags and 'The World Cup of Tweets.' In a blog post Tuesday, Twitter announced the return of hashflags, a feature introduced in 2010. Use a hashtag in front of the relevant three-letter country code, and that country’s flag will appear after the text. (However, the network says that due to a bug, the feature doesn’t currently work on the iPhone Twitter app. "We’re working to fix it," the blog post states.)
"Twitter is encouraging fans to tweet using the country codes for their favorite teams. 'We’ll tally up all of the Tweets with hashflags over the next few days and unveil The World Cup of Tweets bracket prior to the first match this Thursday between host country @CBF_Futebol (#BRA) and @HNS_CFF (#CRO),' Twitter stated in the blog post."
Rempel added that fans can look for relevant tweets about the tournament by searching for the hashtags #WorldCup and #WorldCup2014. People in the greater Spokane area also have the option of going directly to the World Cup's official Twitter profile to see game photos, links to interviews and other updates.
Facebook users have some fun options in addition to visiting the World Cup's official page. Facebook has introduced a section called Trending World Cup, which can be accessed several ways such as clicking on a link in the Trending section of the News Feed or clicking on posts made by friends who are watching matches during the tournament. The special section includes content such as scores and highlights from matches, a feed with real-time posts from World Cup players and teams, and an interactive map showing the locations of fans around the world.
Soccer may never be as big in the Spokane area as baseball, basketball or American football, but all the fun content on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites may make some converts. The online content could help people in the area get caught up in World Cup fever as they interact with people from literally all over the planet. At the very least, talking about soccer on Twitter may help one lucky person win that Kia Soul, which may be enough incentive for people from our community to learn more about the sport.