South Africa 2010 is being billed as the ‘most social’ Football / Soccer World Cup of our generation.
However, if you have a dig around the official website for this year’s tournament, you don’t really get that impression – in fact, it almost seems like FIFA are ‘anti’ social media.
When assessing how ‘social’ an event is being pitched / marketed, the first stop is usually the website of the body in charge.
I spent about 10 minutes on http://www.fifa.com/worldcup home page (and subsequent pages) earlier today and couldn’t find any of the following:
- A link to an official FIFA Twitter account
- A link to an official FIFA Facebook page
- A RSS feed icon (although you will find one if you go to the media centre correction, there is a RSS feed icon on the home page, embedded under the news section, my apologies)
- A mention of the an official Twitter hashtag (#WC2010 seems to be the fan’s choice FYI – even whatthehashtag.com doesn’t feature an explanation)
Note: There is no obvious YouTube link either but this is probably down to rights holders / contracts as opposed to a willingness to use that platform.
This is in stark contrast to most of the other major sporting events / bodies operating in 2010.
Just a couple months ago I looked at the NCAA Basketball Tournament (aka March Madness) via a blog post and discovered that they were doing a pretty decent job.
Most importantly, the very basics i.e. clearly signposted icons linking visitors to social media platforms, were clearly visible (see below).
The next obvious stop is Google – perhaps the almighty search engine could direct me to the official social media properties of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
I conducted a simple test search: “2010 FIFA World Cup on Twitter”.
The top five results that came back were:
http://twitter.com/fifaworldcupsa - A ‘FIFA’ World Cup account (but not one that appears ‘official’)
http://twitter.com/2010oc - The SA 2010 Oranising Committee account
http://twitter.com/fifaworldcuptm - This appears to be the ‘real thing’ but it’s not verified and without a link on FIFA.com pointing me to it, I am somewhat dubious.
http://twitter.com/FIFA_news - This took a little extra effort to find but appears officially ‘official’
http://twitter.com/2010FIFAcup - Another account using the tournament logo and FIFA name, but doesn’t appear to be official
With the recent events surrounding @BPGlobalPR and various similar instances, trusting Twitter accounts is becoming more and more difficult.
The most obvious way to get around that is to feature blatantly obvious links from official websites or to have accounts verified.
What’s the score?
If I was to put my ‘fan’ hat on, I’d be a little confused.
Not just because FIFA appear to be making it particularly challenging for me to follow the tournament via the platforms I am immersed in everyday, but the official tournament sponsors seems to be doing LOADS.
For a comprehensive summary of what FIFA’s sponsors are doing around this World Cup, click here.
After having worked with the Cricket Australia for many years, I know how much sponsors attempt to own as many properties as possible – or, at the very least, conduct activity that is very different to the other associated partners.
Even at my most cynical, I can’t imagine FIFA is taking a gentle approach to social media because of sponsor rights / deals.
It just seems odd…very odd.
Best in class?
The NBA is probably the best example.
More than 2.5 million people ‘like’ the NBA on Facebook.
Nearly 2 million people follow the NBA on Twitter.
NBA.com even has an official guide to Twitter featuring current and former players, commentators, teams and much more.
Why is this so perplexing?
Without knowing the ins and outs of FIFA, I don’t really think I or anyone else is in a position to throw stones.
There may be a perfectly logical explanation (or an even more compelling commercial reason).
But, with less than a week to go until the greatest sporting event in the world begins, I am curious as to why these basics haven’t been covered off.
My hope is the heatwave currently smothering Europe is the reason I can’t find what I was looking for at FIFA.com - maybe you’ll log on tomorrow and the Twitter and Facebook icons will smack you right in the face?
If you do have the answers to any of these questions please let me know (especially as I am more than five months into my ‘newspaper-less’ experiment and keeping up with the World Cup via social media is my only ticket to the dance this year).
It is still very (very) early days for social media, especially for global organisations often constricted by layers of approvals, so I don’t think we can be too hard on who’s in charge of social media at FIFA…but a couple of icons and some direction as to official accounts would be super!!
This is a guest post from Adam Vincenzini who is going to be speaking at the ‘Social Media & Sport Summit’ in London on 15th July where you can still reserve your place. You can keep up with his thoughts on @Vincenzini or his blog http://thecommscorner.blogspot.com/