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Twitter & The World Cup: A Symbiotic Relationship (Stats Recap)

It’s estimated that 3.2 billion people watched at least one minute of the 2010 World Cup, and this year’s World Cup is expected to top that number. With more viewers comes more interaction on social media platforms, a fact that brands on Twitter can capitalize on.

In the beginning of the World Cup’s existence, it was common to watch or listen to the game on TV or on the radio. Commentators shared their analysis and opinions with listeners before, during and after the game. Naturally, while watching the game, people discuss it and share their reactions, hopes and predictions. In the same way that social media platforms changed how coverage and recaps of games are shared after the fact, they also altered how viewers behave when watching the games themselves. According to a Statista survey studying second screen usage during World Cup games, 51 percent of viewers are likely to be on social media platforms while watching any given game.

Statistic: Second screen activities of FIFA World Cup fans as of 1st quarter 2018 | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista


twitter-Flags-Worldcup-hashflagsOn June 10th, 2014, Facebook and Twitter launched social media campaigns to encourage World Cup viewers to take their discussion of games onto their respective platforms. Facebook implemented a Trending World Cup page, featuring match highlights, an interactive global map showing the Facebook popularity of top World Cup players, and even a feed with comments made by friends and journalists discussing the event. Twitter also brought back an old feature called hashflags, where users viewed a scoreboard and read or participated in conversations about events on the platform. This landing page was accessed by users through the hashtags #WorldCup and #WorldCup2014. This feature, also popular during the 2018 World Cup, allows users to visually support their favorite national teams with icons.

The official Twitter account for the World Cup, started in April 2010, has over 6.6 million followers and has shared over 10,000 pictures and videos since its establishment. After meeting and exceeding expectations in terms of user activity with 672 million tweets related to the World Cup being sent during the tournament, which was a Twitter record for a single event.

With games from the group stage having garnered a large amount of attention on the platform, it seems like the 2018 World Cup is on track to break this standing record.

Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 1.50.13 PM

During the 2018 World Cup, Twitter’s data analytics account has been busy monitoring and sharing which moments from games yield the highest amount of Twitter activity, sharing new information with Twitter users nearly every day. From June 14- 28, over 200,000 users turned to Twitter to share immediate reactions in heated moments of games, such as when Coutinho scored the first goal of the Brazil v. Croatia game on June 22nd. In the group stage, the minutes with the highest amount of tweets per minute related to goals scored by Brazil, which aligns with the fact that the Brazil v. México match on July 2nd, which resulted in México being eliminated, was the most tweeted about match so far in this year's World Cup.

31 of the 146 goals scored in this year's World Cup (21%) have been scored after the 80th minute, which caused a spike in the amount of Twitter engagement towards the end of games through the final whistle. This heightened attention being called to the very end of games is also reflected by a spike in Twitter activity directly following the final whistle of World Cup games. Since the final whistle simultaneously indicates a team being victorious and another team being eliminated, this moment at the culmination of games typically sees high levels of Twitter activity. After México was eliminated, Twitter saw a sudden spike of Tweets stating "gracias," sometimes attaching "#MEX" as fans came to Twitter to thank the team in a simple fashion.


According to Twitter data analytics, the match between Brazil and Costa Rica as well as the match between Germany and South Korea saw the most conversation on Twitter during the Group Stage, and 4 of the top 5 tweeted moments came from these two games, measured in number of Tweets per minute. Considering these statistics, turning to Twitter to share reactions is somewhat natural for viewers, which will only continue as the tournament enters the knockout stage and the action becomes increasingly gripping as the remaining countries fight for the title.

Top Players
Brazil’s Neymar Jr. is the most mentioned #WorldCup player so far on Twitter, followed by Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo. 


And these stars are the players most often paired in Tweets with the "goat" emoji (as a reference to Greatest Of All Time):

  1. Lionel Messi (Argentina)
  2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal; @Cristiano)
  3. Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico; @yosoy8a)


A complete analysis and additional stats by the Blog TalkWalker can be found here.