NEW YORK: Soccer fans will be glued to their screens in just over a month when the FIFA World Cup in Russia begins. They’ll also be frequently refreshing their Twitter feeds, according to executives from the social media platform.
More than half of Twitter’s U.S. users play, watch, or follow soccer, and one in two sports fans intend to watch the World Cup and discuss it on Twitter, said Matt Derella, global VP of revenue and content partnerships at Twitter. There’s also been a 17% increase in conversations about brands on Twitter around soccer, he added.
Derella was one of three Twitter executives who gave reporters a sneak peak at the platform’s plans for the 2018 World Cup at the platform’s New York City offices on Tuesday.
The challenge for brands, according to Alex Josephson, head of global brand strategy, is when to get involved. Although the conversation on Twitter spikes during a match, the "misconception is that marketers should base their strategy around serendipitous moments. That could be risky," he warned. After all, many will use the platform in the weeks leading up to tournament.
Josephson also shared the biggest thing marketers should avoid in their Twitter strategy during the World Cup: "thinking of Twitter as a last-minute add-on." He also called trying to retrofit assets for the moment during the month-long tournament "a recipe for disaster."
Coca-Cola, a FIFA partner and official partner of the World Cup trophy tour, has embraced the build-up, capturing content in the 50-plus cities it’s visiting. Other brands are taking a different route.
"A different strategy is Tecate in Mexico," Josephson continued. "It has this storyline of Mexico fans who travel to Moscow to root for their team. This is a subscription experience where it will be buzzing fans’ pockets every week and building this narrative before the first match takes place."
However, Tecate went a step further by changing its Twitter profile to Russian and tweeting in the language, helping the brand "break out from the clutter," he added.
Another beer brand, Corona, began "creating culture." It addressed Mexico’s consecutive eliminations in the World Cup round of 16 by launching a movement on social media featuring Maneki-neko, a Japanese good luck charm in the form of a bobblehead kitten. Posts feature Mexican soccer team members mimicking the kitten’s gesture with #LaSuerteNoJuega.
Jay Bavishi, senior partner manager for the International Olympic Committee and FIFA,
capped off the presentation by announcing Twitter is partnering with "24 publishers and broadcasters across 12 countries and regions."
"In addition to the produced, slick content from broadcasters, there are [verified accounts] that will take us behind the scenes from Russia," he explained, adding that the content will be available via Twitter’s "happening now" tabs, which "serves what’s relevant to users when it matters most."
Asked whether Twitter is partnering with the World Cup’s exclusive Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo, the executives confirmed that it is. Twitter is also focusing on its partnerships with teams, such as Brazil, England, France, and Spain "to make sure they are posting the best content."
Asked how Twitter will make sure consumers are on the platform during live programming, Derella said "there are multiple ways we’re getting content in front of fans. One will be as brands are sponsoring the content, we’ll distribute it pre-roll. That’s a powerful way to get a lot of reach."
Josephson noted Twitter is at its best when it’s augmenting, rather than replacing, the live TV experience.
"We anticipate what you want to see and give you that reason to get back in the action, turn on the TV, and experience Twitter with television," he explained.