Tom Mitchell – Senior Content Executive
As we all come to terms with the news that football is, in fact, only coming home to those living in France, it’s still worth reflecting on what has been a spectacular month.
The nation’s pride has been restored, sales of waistcoats have sky rocketed, and rain is now seemingly a thing of the past.
Social media has undoubtedly been a key player in whipping up enthusiasm. As just one example, the hashtags #itscominghome and #footballscominghome were used an incredible 325k times during the week around the England vs Sweden game.
Yep, it’s fair to say that it’s been a content-fest. All kinds of brands, publishers and influencers have tried to add to the conversation, some with more success than others.
But let’s focus on the successful side. Social media analytics tools can produce some fascinating insights, so I wanted to take a look in to what content has resonated most, on the platform where the most people are – Facebook.
(For reference, I used data from Buzzsumo analysing any article shared between the 14th of June and the 15th of July containing the words ‘world cup’)
The top 6 World Cup stories ranked by Facebook engagements
- ‘After defeat, Japan’s World Cup team leaves behind a spotlessly clean locker room and a ‘thank you’ note’ – cnn.com, 443.5K Facebook engagements
Shared after Japan’s heart-breaking second-round loss to those mean Belgians, CNN’s story of how the Japanese players cleaned their locker room and left behind a thank you note written in Russian went viral on a huge scale.
It came after similarly popular articles had spread news of how Japanese fans had stayed behind after their first group game to clean up their area of the stadium.
Receiving over double the engagements of any other piece of World Cup related content, it demonstrates just how much a simple good news story can capture people’s imaginations.
- ‘All 12 boys and coach successfully rescued from Thai cave – as it happened’ – theguardian.com, 199.4k Facebook engagements
What’s the link here then? Well, the Thai boys that found themselves stuck in a cave were all part of a junior football team named the Wild Boars and had been offered tickets to the World Cup final upon being freed.
Unfortunately, as this article detailed, the boys couldn’t make it as the date of the final did not give them sufficient time to recover, but the news of their successful rescue reached far and wide.
- ‘England Are Out Of The World Cup After Loss To Croatia – ladbible.com, 189.5K Facebook engagements
The moment the dream died.
But let’s now dwell on that too much – what’s more interesting about this is the story’s source.
Once derided as the epitome of Lad culture, the Lad Bible has transformed itself in recent years and now covers a variety of important topics including mental health and the environment.
While this article focuses on football, its social success displays the popularity and reach the publisher now possesses.
- ‘I’ve got some things to say | Romelu Lukaku’ – theplayerstribune.com, 181.3K Facebook engagements
Published just before his country’s first match, the Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku’s heartfelt account of his journey from poverty to representing his country at the World Cup amassed a huge 181.3K Facebook engagements.
This story’s success is a great example of one of the key trends of this year’s tournament; players connecting with their fans via social media.
From England’s players sharing behind-the-scenes pool photos of an inflatables race to Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi taking straight to Twitter to meme himself after he smashed a ball into his own face, no longer are all footballers sheltered superstars detached from the real world.
Founded in 2014 by the former professional baseball player Derek Jeter, the Player’s Tribune is a new media platform that publishes content written by professional athletes. As the numbers behind Lukaku’s story show it’s pretty popular – the official Facebook page has 821,729 likes as of the time of writing.
- ‘Mexico Fans Are Hilariously, Adorably Hyping Up Koreans After They Defeated Germany In The World Cup’ – buzzfeed.com, 97.8k Facebook engagements
South Korea defeating Germany to knock them out was one of the tournament’s biggest upsets, and the failure of one of international football’s giants went down a storm with football fans (almost) everywhere.
And that included Mexico, the country that advanced in Germany’s place. Videos started cropping up of swarms of Mexican fans celebrating with Koreans – quite literally. By picking them up and parading them.
Buzzfeed knows its way around producing viral content, and the inclusion of several user-generated videos in this article likely had a key part to play in its popularity.
- ‘Neymar Has Spent 14 Minutes On The Floor During The World Cup’ – 9gag.com, 97.3k Facebook engagements
Starting with his blonde hair being compared to a packet of noodles and ending with a clip of his play-acting being edited into hundreds of hilarious viral videos, Brazilian superstar Neymar saw his fair share of attention on social media throughout the World Cup.
The success of this article from social media website 9GAG shows the importance of nailing your headline. That stat is practically begging for engagement.
And there we have it. Sure, some of those stories you’d expect to see in there, but who would have thought a story of a football team cleaning their dressing room would receive the most Facebook engagement of all World Cup related news?
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