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World Cup Set to Drive Sociable Soccer

With the World Cup only days away, global excitement and anticipation is mounting, especially on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Only the third World Cup since social media's conception, sports agencies are predicting this tournament to be the most sociable ever.

Twitter has already seen more World Cup related tweets for 2014 than it did for the whole of the 2010 competition. Of the 32 competing nations, 30 have official twitter accounts and more than 300 participating players tweet, presenting the possibility of high levels of player to fan engagement during the tournament.

A recent study by fan science company, Starcount, showed that England has the world's largest social media fan base. Derived from aggregating data from the world's top 12 social media platforms, England tops the table ahead of Brazil in second and the USA in third. On average English fans collectively retweet 17,000 times a day and reach a cumulative 57,500,000 Youtube views.

Leveraging the tournament's popularity, last week Twitter released its World Cup Dream Team based on the social networking site's most mentioned players. Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Neymar comprise the front three, with Mesut Ozil, Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas also featuring. The announcement looks like a sports public relations win for brands such as Nike, Castrol and Adidas, as they sponsor Ronaldo, Neymar and Ozil respectively. With Ronaldo recently announced as the world's most marketable player, Nike, in particular, is riding high.

From a sponsorship perspective there was bad news for official World Cup partners, as new figures reveal they are lagging behind other brands in the amount of cut-through their campaigns are achieving. New research from marketing technology company, Unruly Media, shows that campaigns by non-sponsors have attracted a share rate of 1.8% on social media, compared to 1.7% for sponsors. These figures could easily change significantly as the tournament unfolds. Official sponsors enjoy a myriad of additional entitlements but this must have been uncomfortable reading for all major event organizers; official sponsorship is a costly business so it is vital that partners receive robust returns on their investments.

Brands wanting better results may wish to consider the recent Global Sports Media Consumption Report, which revealed how countries consume sports content via social media. Fans in India came out on top, spending over two and a half hours per week viewing content that encompasses video, data and news formats. Fans in Brazil, Turkey, China, Italy, Spain and the UAE also broke the two hour mark, with users in Germany and Japan ranking the least social, scoring just over an hour a week. Brands not seeing cut through on Twitter should look to Facebook, which was the most popular platform in 12 of the 16 markets covered, beating Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Youtube. The report's findings will undoubtedly help shape the future of many brands' marketing and sports PR campaigns.

If all this wasn't enough to prove the value social media will have in Brazil, Adidas for the first time will spend more on digital marketing than TV ads at the tournament. The sportswear giant's social-centric campaign, 'All In or Nothing', fronts a change in tactics which in 2010 saw just 20% of Adidas' marketing spend go towards digital. In the new era of sports media, social platforms are leading the way.

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