Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) boasts nearly 1.3 billion users of which 40% are football fans. Millions of which are rabid football fans and Facebook is looking to take advantage of this when the competition is held from June 12 to July 13.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has designed a special tournament section called “Trending World Cup” that will include highlights, latest scores, and a feed from your friends, players and team comments on the competition. The site will also feature an interactive map that shows the distribution of player and team fans.
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Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is also bringing users their official commentary by someone calling themselves “The Ref.” One can presume that this will not be the comments of a single person lest they take the title of “most powerful person in the world” from say, President Obama.
When the last World Cup was held (2010, South Africa) Facebook had a “mere” 500 million users. Now, the social network can claim that many users who have either liked a player of a team. World Cup fever will not be limited to smartphone users as Rebecca Van Dyck, head of consumer marketing at Facebook points out. Facebook intends to bring its World Cup coverage to “feature phones” as well knowing that many of the 800 million users it has picked up since the last World Cup are in developing nations.
In order to access Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s new hub, users simply need click on the hashtag #worldcup in a post or by clicking “World Cup” in the trending area of the site. The introduction of “what’s trending” is only available in the U.S., U.K., India, Canada and Australia. So…one footballing nation.
“This is our first foray into this, especially for a big sporting event like this,” Van Dyck said. “We’re going to see how this goes. If people enjoy the experience it’s something we’d like to push on.”
With over 80% of its users outside of the U.S. and Canada, the potential exists for Facebook to attract big money in advertising revenue as companies love to advertise during real-time conversations with a potentially huge audience.
Don’t for a moment think that Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) is going to remain on the sidelines during and event of this magnitude. Last week Twitter boasted in a blog post that “the only real-time #WorldCup global viewing party will be on Twitter, where you can track all 64 matches, experience every goal and love every second, both on and off the pitch.”
Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) is also bringing back the “hashflags” in unveiled during the last World Cup. Users need only enter #USA #FRA #GER or whatever your teams three letter code is and a color flag will grace the bottom of your tweet.
Looking at the most recent Summer Olympics and Super Bowl it’s easy to see that “second screen” viewing is on the rise and there is no bigger event than a World Cup that takes over a month to play. During the last World Cup nearly 1 billion people watched at least a minute in the final match between Spain and Holland and that number is expected to rise this year.
“Developing countries will be a key target for global brands,” said Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst for research firm eMarketer. “They will work hard to capture the attention of soccer fans in Latin America, Asia, Africa. The challenges (include the fact) that all the games are taking place in one place and the customers and marketers are in multiple time zones. This will require around the clock marketing.”
Unfortunately for those actually in Brazil, expect issues that many Brazilians deal with problems regarding mobile Internet when 4 million fans from around the world aren’t in the country. The potential for network overload is very real.
“Instagram, Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), social media will not function at world class levels but at Brazilian levels, so people visiting Brazil will experience the frustrations we face every day,” said Christopher Gaffney, a visiting professor at Rio de Janeiro’s Federal Fluminense University.