The World Cup and Real-Time Fans


The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was expected to be the social World Cup. But we’re now a couple of days away from the 2014 competition and social media’s influence on football has developed beyond recognition. It’s now an undeniable pillar of supporter culture; there are 500 million football fans on Facebook alone.

Ahead of this year’s World Cup we are able to share an exclusive preview of GlobalWebIndex’s latest report on the digital behaviours of World Cup fans, which highlights how the 2014 World Cup will be a social event.

The report finds that, globally, 68% of online adults aged 16-64 will be following at least some World Cup games, with 24% being Real-Time Fans who will watch as many games live as they can. Second-screening is a prolific behaviour amongst Real-Time Fans and they are a highly attractive group for marketers and brands.

There are two clear reasons for this. Firstly, Real-Time Fans exist in a conversation sweet spot; 50% of tweets about TV in 2013 were sport related, and 91% of Real-Time Fans will use a second screen while watching the World Cup (most often on a mobile or tablet) to talk about the matches.

Secondly, Real-Time Fans are more likely than the average fan to engage with brands in social media. The report suggests that brands play a big part in fans’ social media behaviour and that they’re keen to engage with their favourites.

The GWI report shows that Real-Time Fans are more open to engagement and therefore represent an opportunity for brands, but the quality and relevance of that engagement are still absolutely key.

Whether the focus is a great content strategy or straightforward incentives such as competitions, discounts (as identified by the report) or giveaways, authenticity is essential. Football fans, including Real-Time Fans, have become very savvy to marketing: they know when something doesn’t ‘fit’ and they’ll be more than happy to call out bad fan engagement in a very public way.

If a brand’s target audience is mostly male and between the Real-Time Fan age ranges they’re probably second-screening and talking about football during World Cup matches, giving brands a real chance to engage with this group on social media. This, more than 2010, is the second screen World Cup, and Real-Time Fans are the driver for that.

If you want to know more about the digital behaviours of World Cup fans, you can download the full GWI report here.