World Cup 2018: How the group stage draw played out on social media

In this new episode of Alex Grudnev’s World Cup 2018 series, a special focus will be given to the use of social media in the World Cup Draw in Moscow on December 1st: how FIFA engages its fans, why it posts the same tweets again and again and what’s the role of big football stars in its promotion.

FIFA started heating the atmosphere around the ceremony in advance. In the last two or three days before Grand Kremlin Palace opened its doors for guests, the social media managers were already warming up the public. How?

Of course, it was not only the work of social media marketers. Though, the main task of marketers was to use every single possibility to promote an event. And here everything was prepared perfectly. A Trophy Tour, the first part of which ended several days before the event; the presentation of the official poster of World Cup; content around the future Fan Festival with big football stars from the past; and many other activities not for general public. All these activities were covered on social media.

Scrolling the feeds of the official accounts of the World Cup on social you also notice fast that most posts are engaging. They invite you “to estimate chances of Argentina to win trophy next summer”, “to predict in which group Russia will play in” and to enlighten you in the history of draw ceremonies. It’s there to get you liking, sharing and feeling attached to the event. It makes the event unique.

The uniqueness of FIFA is global. To gather three best players of modern football in one video is no problem. A short video with Neymar, Cristiano and Messi was definitely a smash and FIFA was not afraid of posting it again and again on their Twitter account, changing only some of their 280 characters, and not even the image. It’s a simple idea: three players share their thoughts about the draw in one video, but what players! It’s no surprise that all the tweets had success. And again they were engaging the readers.

Importantly, FIFA paid some attention to the fans and retweeted the best reactions or commented them in its tweets.

Nowadays such big events like draws are covered by hundreds of media outlets and officials. Literally the whole world was watching and FIFA’s job is to provide the most convenient digital tools so that people will use the organisation’s sources instead of local and international media. Perhaps that inspires marketers to prepare sort of digital guide for all supporters. The guide clearly describes the main information about the ceremony and says why people should choose FIFA as the primary source of information for this evening (access to all 32 coaches, wide possibilities for interaction and exclusive content).

Look for a while at FIFA’s website. It is not just about the words, it is about design and interface. All the paragraphs are easy to read and you can jump from one to another. Importantly, the links to social media are literally everywhere: on the top of the page, on the right side and in the end of the article. What makes them look fabulous is that they are designed in different ways: as social media icons, as names of platforms and as extended names of the groups. Of course, all of them are interactive and clickable.

FIFA tries to do the same with its content, marketers promoted the same materials in different ways and at different times (do not forget about time zones as well). It does not make you feel disgusting by the same posts, rather it looks organic and smart. We already mentioned the video with the three stars, though you can go deeper and explorer further examples. Good content can be repeated!

Hashtag promotion from the official FIFA World Cup account was definitely a good idea. If you remember volunteers also brought huge numbers before the games of Confederations Cup this summer. So, people in FIFA definitely know, how to work with hashtags.

Another good idea about how to engage all 32 federations and players to be active on Twitter as well? Just make a video with 32 players and make them speaking different languages. Easy? Sure. Effective? Definitely! A short video with more than three big football stars succeeded and brought many reactions. Most importantly that this video embodied all FIFA’s current aims of game promotion, integrity and inclusivity. Just a perfect implication of the strategy into real content.

In general, FIFA’s approach towards social media during the Draw looks perfect. And definitely could be viewed as the benchmark for other international organizations.

Dress for Iran and beer for everybody

However, many people expected to see another model as the host of the show, but organisers made a small surprise inviting on this role a Russian female journalist from the Federal Sport channel Match TV – Maria Komandnaya.

Maria used this occasion all 100%. For couple of days she started to use more English in her posts and took her job in heating the atmosphere around the ceremony.

Two days before the draw, Iranian authorities promised to stop broadcasting the ceremony if Maria’s dress was be “too sexy”. It was not a joke (they stopped broadcasting of World Cup draw in 2006 by the same reason) and the journalist promised to avoid provocative clothing. She just posted own pictures in different clothing on her Instagram.

What is interesting in this story that after the ceremony Maria got many active followers from Iran and all her Instagram comments are predominantly in Persian now saying “You are the best, thank you. Iran”.

Viktoria Lopyreva, a famous Russian top-model and an ambassador of the World Cup, was also active on social media. She made some posts promoting UN AIDS after she became its ambassador and constantly repeated her message: zero tolerance to discrimination and support of those living with AIDS.

Breaking news‼️ It’s a huge honour and responsibility for me to become Special Ambassador @unaidsglobal for the World Cup #FIFA 2018 @fifaworldcup ⚽️ and to unite millions of people in the common goal to fight AIDS #myrighttohealth #zerodiscrimination ❤️???????? Срочная новость!!! Огромная честь и ответственность для меня стать Специальным послом @UNAIDS для Чемпионата мира по футболу #FIFA 2018 @fifaworldcup ⚽️и обьединить миллионы людей ради цели #нольдискриминации и #прекращение эпидемии СПИДа #моеправоназдоровье ????????❤️

A post shared by Ambassador Of FIFA WC 2018????????⚽️ (@lopyrevavika) on

We found in Viktoria’s account also a promo video from Bud alcohol free beer from the official World Cup sponsor – Budweiser. The same video was posted on the Instafeed of the famous US brand too.

However, Budweiser was one from a few brands working with FIFA, which try to take an advantage from the ceremony on their social media. While VISA, Gazprom and Wanda Group just kept silence, only Qatar Airways announced a contest for draw predictions. Hyundai and Adidas did some posts too, though they were made from the Russian accounts and focused on the Russian audience.

This article could not be completed without digital statistics, which turns FIFA’s success in a more concrete numbers.

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