World Cup: Who won the Social Media shoot-out?

Ben Reynolds

Now that the dust has settled, and we can congratulate France for winning their second FIFA World Cup, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on the success of the tournament in winning over fans, especially given the politically charged backdrop to Russia’s hosting of the competition this year.

Russia 2018 did not disappoint. From the spectacle of watching South Korea knock-out the defending champions Germany in the group stage, to Iran substitute Milad Mohammadi’s bizarre somersault throw-in and England actually winning a penalty shoot-out! This tournament hasn’t been short of entertainment.

And for the England football team, the heartbreak of departing the tournament at the semi-final stage for the first time since 1990 will hurt for a little while. But with little doubt, they achieved success in being able to restore pride in the team, and crucially, reconnect with England fans in a big way. In fact, in the battle of the Social Media World Cup, England would come out on top in a way that not many other teams were able to capitalise on. Looking at this year’s quarter-finalists, it was only team Brazil (or the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol) that had a larger social media follower base than England (4.4m followers vs 3.8m followers on Twitter). But considering Brazil’s population is nearly four times the size of England’s, then this margin could be considered irrelevant, although England would have a higher percentage of online users, so it's difficult to determine how balanced that comparison is.

When we compared the official handles head-to-head (@England vs @cbf_futebol) – the results showed a more interesting story, particularly when it comes to measuring engagement.

So, in an alternative social media universe where England are up against Brazil, let’s see how they stack up!

Wcblog Follower Size
Wcblog Percentage Retweets
Wcblog Volume Of Tweets
Wcblog Number Of Retweets
Wcblog Number Of Likes
Wcblog Total Engagement

So there you have it. England won 4-2, convincingly beating the second-best social media team of the quarter-finalists by a margin of 11%! The secret to their success is based on a few key insights:

  • Average number of retweets is nearly 8 times the retweet rate of accounts of a similar size. As retweets are a much stronger indicator of engagement than likes – then this is a convincing measure that what @England post about will gather significant traction with their audience.
  • The retweet rate of 38% is huge, signifying a proactive, conversational account that leverages the power of their team, football and social media influencers, as well as their devoted fans to amplify and support the @England message. By comparison Brazil’s much smaller retweet rate of 3% suggests a broadcast model to their account – so, far less real-world social engagement and therefore 'fan buzz'.
  • The #ThreeLions hashtag even came with its own emoji! In the last seven days, there have been over 270,000 posts with this tag.
  • The Lions Den. A YouTube channel dedicated to a look inside the England camp, with video journal entries from the England players, and live streaming with the fans.

England have set new standards on and off the pitch, and in a world where social media is key to bridging the gap between the field of play and those thousands of miles away, it's great too see the Three Lions leading the way. But whatever became of the #ItsComingHome phenomenon? Well, as soon as England exited the competition it became #ItsComingHome2022 of course!

England has turned social media to its advantage, and it demonstrates how good engagement can have a long-lasting positive effect. Whatever the aims for your B2B social media, TBT can help. We've even made a guide to choosing the right strategy, how to create great content, how to promote it and crucially how you measure its impact and adapt your strategy going forward. Take a look, and don't hesitate to get in touch with any questions. Call on 0808 168 6900, drop us a line [email protected] or tweet us at @tbt_marketing.

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