It is a valuable exercise to look back at the 2014 World Cup and examine its impact. It isn’t called the World Cup for nothing. For one month every four years, life stands still as fans of “the world’s sport” travel to the host country to attend in person, gather in front of enormous screens in venues on home soil, or crowd around a TV wherever they can find a signal.
In the United States, where soccer has a significantly diminished level of importance when compared to the other preferred American sports, it may come as a surprise that so much enthusiasm was shown between June and July. The prominence of social media and interconnectivity in daily life today undoubtedly played a role in the excitement. Both Twitter and Facebook reached record highs of engagement, and the captivating play of the United States national team instigated plenty of conversation. Facebook saw 350 million users created 3.5 billion likes, comments and posts during the month-long tournament, while Twitter processed 672 million tweets. The final game alone generated 32.1 million tweets and 280 million Facebook exchanges.
The United States purchased the second-most number of match tickets, only after the host country Brazil, according to FIFA, the governing body of international soccer. While there were plenty of fans in Brazil sharing their experiences with compatriots back home through social media, the atmosphere was just as electric at the many viewing parties set up in major U.S. cities from coast to coast. People used their accounts to spread the word and gather as many people as possible, leading Chicago, for example, to move its original viewing party location for the USA’s first match to a new location for the second. For a country that had struggled both on the field and in attracting fans for a very long time, this was a welcome sight and marked the beginning of a hopefully permanent increase in popularity.
Even for casual sports fans or Americans in general, it was hard to avoid World Cup fever, with the social networks bursting at the seams with related content. The USA’s exciting games against Ghana, Portugal, and goalie Tim Howard’s astonishing 16 saves against Belgium all brought Americans together to cheer, party and despair together both in person and online. This sense of unity that social media delivers, shares the responsibility for bringing the sport to fans like never before and exposing them to the joy it brings.
An event like the World Cup and the amount of social engagement seen during the tournament is testament to the fact that if companies, brands or people want to expand their reach to new heights, it pays to give special attention to news and current events. Join the conversation with an interesting take and see where it takes you. Only time will tell, but social media may make the difference in the permanence of soccer’s popularity in the U.S.