Predicting the World Cup 2014 Using Social Media: The Final

After almost a month of record-breaking tweets, location heat maps and Louis Suarez biting memes, we can look back on …

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Alexis Pratsides


After almost a month of record-breaking tweets, location heat maps and Louis Suarez biting memes, we can look back on this World Cup and see the impact that social media marketing has had on it.

Just as football has changed over the last four years (as Brazil and Spain have brilliantly demonstrated), so has social. Not only has it been the go-to channel to keep up with the action, it has been well-used by the media and teams to engage with fans. It’s clear that well thought-out digital marketing strategies have been put in place to not only take advantage of the event, but to also react to it quickly.

As events unfolded, brands have been agile and not afraid to push the boundaries. We’ve already highlighted Paddy Power as an example of this with their #BrazilNuts campaign and Tuesday night’s match almost sent it into overdrive (Warning: strong language used):

And let’s not forget the genius Snickers tweet after “that” bite – over 48,000 retweets:

How successful has social media been for predicting matches?

Our overall rate (before the last two matches) is 53%.

At group stage we had a success rate of 50%- better than Goldman Sachs (41%) and Bloomberg (46%) who also made predictions. This stage threw up lots of surprises – Spain’s crushing loss to the Netherlands, Costa Rica topping the Group D table and Italy crashing out.

At knock-out stage our rate shot up to 87% (Greece was our downfall) and in the quarter-finals we predicted 75% of the winners. We crashed at the semi-final stage with 0%. Teams are becoming more consistent, improving and know they have to play well or they’re out. We think this is why our predictions performed well and reflected their rankings. For example, if Argentina and Switzerland had met in the group stage, we would have predicted a win for Switzerland but in the round of 16, Argentina was the clear winner as their social media had improved.

The semi-final stage was a disaster for us and we expected the Brazil-Germany match to be closer. This was definitely a case of external factors such as injured players and hubris playing a much larger role in team performance than social media.

Who will win the final matches?

Brazil v Netherlands

This will be close – both teams have excellent social media followings and chatter about them. While social media says Brazil, after Tuesday night anything could happen.

Brazil’s Twitter feed doesn’t mention the score against Germany but it does acknowledge the struggle they face in the next game: “It is the union that is strength. Saturday we have another battle and we have to go on. Pain is all of us. Thank you!”.

The Dutch on the other hand are upbeat: “The hangover is huge this morning … but we are so proud! Orange Thanks!”

Argentina v Germany

Since the beginning of the competition, Argentina has seen growth across its main social channels, Facebook and Twitter. Since the knock-out stages started, they’ve grown by 20% and 33% respectively. This is significantly more than Germany but they still lack in other areas. No Google+, YouTube or Instagram accounts have harmed their social rankings.

However, the activity they perform is good and engaging.

We know the Germans are well organised and their digital strategy has been excellent (their German SEO isn’t half bad either). They have always been a contender with social media and closed the gap significantly with Brazil as they progressed through the group stages. They even overtook the Netherlands in our rankings.

They constantly feed their networks updates, videos and images:

Since the start of the competition, their Instagram feed has increased by over 6,000% from 1,200 followers to almost 87,000.

Who will win?

Social media says Germany but Argentina’s improvements cannot be easily dismissed. However, it’s not close enough to be a penalty shoot-out.

What next for social media predictions?

The World Cup has been an interesting project to evaluate the role that social media can play in predicting sports competitions. As we said in our original article and report, social is now a critical part of how teams interact with fans and must be part of their overall communications strategy with them.

Can social media make predictions for your company?

We believe that social media can give you insight into future customer needs and requirements. Send us an email to find out how one of the top digital marketing agencies in London can help you.

Created by

Alexis Pratsides

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