One universe, eight planets, seven continents and billions of people, they all have one thing in common — the love for football.
Is there any teenager who doesn’t love watching Messi or Ronaldo? Can we find one old man who has never celebrated the grandeur of Pele? Andy Harper, former Newcastle player, said, “I love the fact that for ninety minutes in a rectangular piece of grass, people can forget hopefully, whatever might be going on in their life, rejoice in this communal celebration of humanity. The biggest diverse, invasive or pervasive culture that a human kind knows is football and I love the fact that at the altar of football humankind can come worship and celebrate.”
The biggest sporting extravaganza, FIFA World Cup, is here and social media platforms and messaging apps are leaving no stone unturned to brace the World Cup fever.
FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, has improved its mobile applications, social accounts and developed a new social hub to handle the sporting event. It has launched its official FIFAWorldCup account on Instagram to share the best imagery from Brazil and for football supporters across the globe to share their World Cup celebrations on social media. It has also launched the Global Stadium, a social, online and mobile hub for the FIFA World Cup so that fans can follow the action live, minute-by-minute, and engage with friends, players, coaches and fellow fans across the globe, while supporting their favourite teams at the tournament.
Besides following the action from the official sports app, there are a host of engaging and interactive apps such as ESPNFC offering the coverage of all the major football leagues and competitions from around the world and Onefootball, which is one of the best looking apps that provide a wide range of information from live scores to player statistics and match results and much more. World Cup Brazil 2014 provides hands-on information for those who are in Brazil, besides information about each match, including venue, timing and comes with a support of several languages — English, Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and German.
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Facebook’s Trending World Cup
Sports are inherently social, and during major sporting events people on social media channels want to connect and engage with friends who are following the action, to cheer on their favourite teams and players, and to find out the latest scores and highlights.
Facebook has launched Trending World Cup — a dedicated hub for fans on the social site to follow the tournament as it unfolds. It includes the latest scores and highlights from the matches, a special feed with real-time posts from friends and updates from relevant players and teams, an interactive map that shows where fans of some of the top players are located around the world.
In addition, users can also share the specific match they are watching during the World Cup by tapping the smiley icon before they share a post and select “watching.” It has also launched FacebookRef, where fans can see commentary about the matches from “The Ref”, Facebook’s official tournament commentator. The social site has also planned a host of data insights during the tournament.
Hashflags are back
Twitter dominates the live events space and it is the second screen to TV broadcast. According to Twitter, there have already been more World Cup-related tweets this year than during the entire 2010 tournament. As part of the build up towards the FIFA World Cup, a blog post was published by Twitter India about how football fans can follow the World Cup on Twitter and stay up-to-date on their favourite matches, teams and players. It has launched Twitter XI Dream Team that is made up of the most-mentioned player Twitter @handles in the past three months, forming an XI. It has also created a video to celebrate the games.
For the first time users, after signing up and choosing the username, can select the team they are supporting. They can then, from a number of profile and header photos, choose the ones that represent their country.
In the World Cup timeline, one can view tweets related to the World Cup from people in their network, along with relevant tweets from teams, players, coaches, press, fans in the stadiums and celebrities. The match timeline shows tweets about specific matches that are happening in real-time.
The hashflags are back after 2010 where the fans can use a hashtag in front of the relevant three-letter country code, and that country’s flag will appear after the text.
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Say it with stickers
Viber has created sticker packs for football fans all over the world to come handy in situations they feel lost for words or just want to spread their love for the game.
It has localised the packs for each country participating in the World Cup with its flag and language. The 32 localised packs, called Viber Team, are available in the sticker market for free.
“The World Cup is an exciting global and national event. We believe Viber offers the perfect way for supporters around the world to connect freely with friends to share their laughter, joy, tears and frustration as the intensity of the World Cup increases,” said Michael Shmilov, Viber’s Head of Product.
LINE has also launched a pack of stickers for its users to celebrate the football frenzy.
How is the Southeast Asian market changing the game?
The consumption patterns are changing and the “second screen” has transformed the traditional TV viewing experience with consumers using smartphones and tablets to engage more, particularly with sports content.
To help soccer fans follow the online conversation during the tournament, Tata Consultancy Services has launched a new application, TCS SocialSoccer, to give football fans a social experience through their smartphones or tablets.
TCS SocialSoccer aggregates real-time analysis of all matches from based on Twitter data, tracking sentiment and key talking points from experts, footballers and fans from across the globe. It allows users to follow all games and monitor the performance of their team and favourite players. The app is interactive, enabling fans to interact with other supporters.
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Adding social flavour to the World Cup coverage, SingTel mio TV announced partnership with Local Measure to gather aggregated location-based data from social media platforms and from fans inside the stadium to feed rich and interactive social content to the viewers. On this partnership, Anurag Dahiya, Head of Content at SingTel mio TV said, “We are delighted to partner with Local Measure to deliver authenticity and bring Brazil’s excitement of the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament to our viewers. Local Measure’s unique technology will enable Singaporeans travelling to Brazil for the bigger soccer event, to share the fun with family and friends back home by hashtagging their social media posts with #mioBrazil.”
SingTel’s coverage includes live programming from all-new SingTel Football centre, giving viewers access to analysis, match previews and reviews as well as highlights of each game for fans to enjoy via mobile devices.
SAYS.com, the news site from Malaysia, in collaboration with AllsportzAsia, an online digital initiative aimed at bringing together the sports community in Malaysia and the Asian region, brings Malaysians all the action from the world’s biggest sporting event in Brazil.
“The World Cup is the largest sporting event that successfully brings people from all walks of life together. We at SAYS are extremely excited to be able to do the same for Malaysians through SAYS Live Football,” said SAYS General Manager, Samuel Wee.
The platform enables fans to enjoy real-time updates delivered by a team of TV and radio personalities. Under the direction of radio icon Ross Yusof and AMP DJ Roshan Narayan, SAYS Live Football visitors will have access to daily podcasts, both previewing and reviewing all the games throughout football’s biggest tournament. They will also enjoy guest appearances by local celebrities and personalities.
The Malaysians have to select the best striker, best defender and best midfielder and they will be in the run to take home prizes. SAYS Live Football aims to reach 1 million unique visitors monthly throughout this coming football month.
Predicting the unpredictable
After accurate predictions from Paul Octopus every year, Yahoo Labs, with the help of research algorithms with 83 billion posts across 188 million Tumblr blogs, has predicted the outcome of each match and the winner of the tournament.
As the fans get ready to take in all the excitement, Nimbuzz has reached out to football fans to understand their expectations from this World Cup. Nimbuzz’s Pulse of the Nation initiative pushes out a string of questions everyday through the Pulse of the Nation Chat Buddy that appear as regular contacts on the chat roster of over 25 million Nimbuzz users across the country and collates their opinions into the Football Leaguespecial report.
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Apart from apps and social media platforms creating innovative formats, brands and marketers have also created engaging campaigns to celebrate the football fever as this time their target is to capture the fans in the developing markets such as Asia and Africa. In this season nobody can ignore the excitement around the World Cup as the dynamism of this omnipresent game has truly gripped us all.