World Cup 2018: Social Media Stats and Insights

This year’s World Cup is just a few weeks away. In this post, we’ll look at a heap of social media stats around football in general, and the 2018 World Cup – from the players to the national teams and sponsors – in order to give you a better idea of what to expect from the event, and how you can tap into the conversation.

Social media stats about football

How many times is the term “football” mentioned in a year? Over 77 million times – and that’s excluding the US mentions (which overwhelmingly refer to American football).

N.B. You could argue that some of these football mentions from the rest of the world still refer to American football 🙂

By comparison, the term “futbol” (Spanish) was used 52.3 million times, “futebol” (Portuguese) 21.1 million timesand “calcio” (Italian) 7.3 million times. That’s a lot of people talking about football!

Here are the top 50 hashtags used when talking about football in different languages on social media.

And who said that football isn’t popular in the United States? This expression was mentioned over 30 million times in the last year. It’s also worth mentioning that the United States is not the only country using this term: the same is also true in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, for example.

Social media stats about the 2014 World Cup

To get some context about what to expect from the World Cup, it’s worth going through some of the 2014 social media stats.

  • In the space of one month, the World Cup hashtag was used in over 24 million posts during the 2014 tournament, with 68% of all tweets being written in English.
  • The 2014 opening game between Brazil and Croatia generated over 12.2 million tweets in the space of a few hours. Do you think this year’s game between Russia and Saudi Arabia will beat that record?
  • During the last World Cup, there were over 32.1 million tweets sent about the final match between Argentina and Germany.
  • Yet the most discussed match was without contest the semi-final game where the Brazilians got crushed 7-1 by an unforgiving German team, with over 35.6 million tweets.

World Cup: Top tweets from 2014

To help understand your opportunities to tap into the surrounding discussion, here’s a listing of some of the top tweets from the 2014 World Cup.

  • Remember that game between Belgium and USA where American goalkeeper Tim Howard made a gazillion saves to get his team into overtime? Despite the fact Belgium was the one to advance to the next stage, Howard was so good he won the respect of Vincent Company, the captain of the opposing team.
  • How about when Brazil got destroyed by the Mannschaft 7-1 in the quarterfinals?

Social media stats about the national football teams

  • Before the 2018 World Cup even starts, the most discussed team is Germany, with over 71 000 posts in April.
  • The national football team participating in the 2018 World Championship with the most followers on Twitter is Mexico (over 5,7 million in April 2018).
  • The national football team participating in the 2018 World Championship with the most followers on Instagram is France (over 2.7 million followers in April 2018).
  • How about FIFA? The @FifaWorldCup Twitter account boasted over 5,65 million folllowers on Twitter as of May 2nd, 2018, and even more on Instagram (6.3 million followers). The FIFA World Cup brand, however, seems to be strongest on Facebook, with a community of over 40 million fans.

How about the players? Social media stats about Cristiano Ronaldo & Lionel Messi

The World Cup is also all about the players, the stars of the game. Successful athletes can be hugely influential influencers for brands, as they tend to attract large, engaged audiences, as demonstrated by the social media figures of two of the world’s most famous football players – Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. 

  • Over the last 13 months, the name “Cristiano Ronaldo” was mentioned over 19.5 million times on the web and on social media, with the biggest activity spike occurring after he scored an amazing goal during the game between Real Madrid and Juventus on April 3rd, 2018.
  • In comparison, the name “Lionel Messi” only appeared in 8 million posts over the same period. Will that differential hold up during the 2018 World Cup?
  • On Twitter, Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) has over 72.6 million followers. Weird: did you know that Lionel Messi has no official Twitter account? Here’s how Ronaldo compares to other very popular football players:
  • Over the last 13 months, Ronaldo’s most engaging tweet was the one where he shared a picture of his newborn twins (over 167 000 retweets and 585 000 likes). Will that be another record broken during this year’s World Championship?
  • By comparison, the top Cristiano Ronaldo tweet featuring one of his sponsors (Nike) collected three times less engagement (46 000 retweets and 159 000 likes).
  • On Instagram, Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) boasts over 123.6 million followers. By comparison, his rival Lionel Messi only has 90.3 million followers. 
  • In the last 13 months, Ronaldo’s most engaging Instagram post was also a birth announcement, but this time for the birth of his youngest daughter Alana, which generated over 11 million likes and 195 000 comments.
  • In 2017, Ronaldo was named for the second year in a row the highest paid athlete in the world with $58 million coming from his salary and winnings, and $35 million coming from endorsements.

Football social media stats about brand sponsors

  • Did you know that right before the 2014 World Cup, Adidas created a Twitter account for the official match ball (@brazuca)? By the end of the tournament, it had accumulated over 3.5 million fans.
  • Social media drama: even before the first whistle, Coca-Cola created an online buzz when it announced the Korean band Bangtan Boys (BTS) would become the brand’s spokespeople ahead of the 2018 World Cup. The announcement alone generated over 274 000 mentions over 24 hours, as well as a flurry of new World Cup-related hashtags such as #FIFAWorldCup_BTS, #BTSxCocaCola and many more.
  • Do you remember one of the Euro 2016‘s most infamous ‘bad buzz’ stories? I’m sure Switzerland still does – during their match against France, their Puma team jerseys kept tearing up like paper To be fair, Puma was not the only brand in the hot seat – one of the Adidas footballs also burst in the middle of the same match.

Random social media stats linked to football

And one final World Cup stat of note – Did you know that there’s a similar competition for Esports? The second edition of the FIFA eClub World Cup will take place in May 2018, with 16 participating teams competing for the prize money. In April alone, the hashtag #fifaeworldcup was mentioned over 40 000 times on social media.

As you can see, there’s going to be a heap of hype, and a range of brand opportunities surrounding the 2018 World Cup. Tapping into the stream can have significant reach benefits – but as always with trendjacking, be careful, and ensure your messaging is always linked to a brand-relevant angle. 

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