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What FIFA’s World Cup Digital Presence Can Teach Sports Business (and others)




Throughout summer, Stephen Bourke, presenter of our "Managing Digital Transformation in Sportonline certificate program will share insights in the form of infographics and blogs on different aspects of the business of sports in disrupted times. 



Last year FIFA President Gianni Infantino declared;


“2018 will be FIFA’s year of digital revolution as we develop a worldwide digital future to engage and interact with fans.” - Gianni Infantino, Dubai International Sports Conference, Dec. 2017


By a number of metrics, the success of FIFA’s digital revolution is being realized at the 2018 World Cup;


  • FIFA App top in over 100 countries
  • FIFA’s social media accounts gain most followers
  • FIFA.com the top football website; best platform for World Cup games



An overview of the principles guiding this success provide an insight into FIFA’s corporate and digital strategy behind these achievements;






Not only did FIFA create an app for the World Cup, they invested heavily in its use case – to inform and deeper their audiences connection with the event whether fans could attend matches or not. To deliver on this use case, content was developed by 32 reporters (one per team), delivered in 16 languages and made available in blog format for each match thereby bringing the beautiful game to life in another medium.


Most importantly, unlike third party platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Weibo, FIFA owns the data behind their mobile app interface.  This provides the organization with data arising from their app that had been launched over 11 million times within the first week of the event.


Analytics including personal preferences and how users interact with the app provide FIFA with valuable data to monitor and respond to in real-time during the event as well as for mining its treasure trove of insights post-event for future iterations. 




FIFA created an online Fan Zone that is accessible to global fans of the game at all times.  Not only could fans interact with any of the gamified options in an easy to navigate way, each option – such as Man of the Match and FIFA World Cup™ Fantasy touch points - were assigned to a corporate partner.


Like the app, FIFA will gain highly useful data from fans interaction with their online Fan Zone for future events. 


Presenting partners would be provided with analytics based on contractual metrics arising from the performance of the assigned digital channel and its associated brand value for them.




From: https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/fan-zone/



In addition to the most popular western social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, FIFA also launched accounts on 
VKontakte (Russian) and Weibo (Chinese) which has helped FIFA position themselves ahead of the 32 competing nations. 

Their theme of ShareIt! is the perfect call to action and public declaration of FIFA’s approach to including fan’s in the centre of conversations and building an online community around them.  FIFA appreciate that user generated content is the purest form of engagement in this age of sharing.  

ShareIt! also creates a theme that corporate partners could innovatively leverage off to generate their own shareable content.  Budweiser’s boat cruise on the Thames to watch matches and Nike (because ambush marketing is a corporate sport) draping their banner on streets of Brazil offer such examples for selfies and sharing.



As well as being a megaphone for tourist and World Cup event information, FIFA’s social voice has a decidedly personal feel – which is often difficult for event accounts to achieve due to their temporary and transient nature.  That the World Cup has presented as a humanist brand on their social accounts reflects FIFA’s fan-first commitment, pre-panning and executive management endorsement.  

It was also evident that FIFA had focussed on ensuring all information, entertainment and connections were all easy to navigate for the end-user.  Content styles also matches popular trends such as a preference for video consumption and short form content.  


From:  https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/visual-stories/


Teamwork off the pitch

As reported by Front Office Sport in their post “Over Halfway Through the World Cup FIFA’s Digital Strategy has been Successful” execution of FIFA’s digital strategy could not be achieved without a team-based approach.

This is how Alex Stone, FIFA’s group leader of social media and video describes their internal integration;

 “In the office, we have our social media team, community management coordinator, graphic designers, business intelligence analyst, digital marketing team, statisticians, production team keeping FIFA.com and the app running, and our editorial lead team too, including the curation of our live blogs on FIFA.com. 

This team works in tandem with the 32 team reporters and a partnership team at Getty Images and FIFA TV, which have deployed photographers and crews on the ground.” 





The next edition of Managing Digital Transformation in Sport is commencing in September 2018.  Click here to learn more about this program. 


*A C-suite only version ‘Leading Digital Transformation in Sport’ is also available on an expression of interest basis.



Start Date: Request more information | Duration : 6 Months


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