2021 was a huge year for football on Twitter. The Super League came and went, @England came so close to lifting its first major trophy since 1966, and there was big news in the transfer market as Ronaldo and Messi moved clubs. Now, with just one year to go to the World Cup in Qatar, 2022 is set to be even bigger.
It all kicks off at the Al Bayt stadium in Qatar on 21st November – but the anticipation and excitement surrounding football’s first-ever winter World Cup is already building.
Even people who normally have no interest in the beautiful game get swept up in the excitement that surrounds a major tournament. And enthusiasm for the beautiful game has never been higher.
A force of nature
People Tweet about football more than any other sport. Much more. Football conversation on Twitter is up 27% since January 2019. That offers brands a massive opportunity to connect with the sport and the fans to build relevance in the lead-up to what is arguably the biggest, most-watched event in the world of sport.
Football never sleeps
Twitter, like football, is all about moments. It’s the best place for fans to keep up with every kick, share every goal, and debate every decision – but it’s not just during the 90 minutes of a game that people want to talk about it.
The circus surrounding football never sleeps. Whether it’s speculation around ifa manager should be sacked, which players should be picked for the next England squad, or the never ending rumour mill that churns even when the transfer window isn’t open — there’s always something football-related to Tweet about.
When @Cristiano returned to @ManUtd in August there were 921K Tweets about the transfer in five days, although that wasn’t enough to eclipse @TeamMessi’s move to @PSG_inside earlier in the month, which generated 964K mentions over the same length of time. It goes to show that even on Twitter the two GOATs are constantly competing.
These are events that transcend the sport itself and spill over into other areas of popular culture inspiring memes, starting conversations, and leading to crossover moments. Take the joke in @TedLasso about actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney buying @Wrexham_AFC, which led to the National League side being sent some of the fictional coach’s trademark biscuits by @AppleTV.
It’s not just the sheer volume of Tweets that prove Twitter is the home of football fans either. Over the past year, a survey found that 68.6% of people on Twitter said they regularly watch, follow, or have an interest in football, meaning they are 1.2x more likely to be football fans than non-users are.
Combine that with the fact that Twitter’s audiences have been shown to be active, receptive, and influential. It has powerful implications for advertisers, particularly when trying to reach those who don’t typically watch television. Twitter has been found to be 4x more efficient at reaching the cord-cutters and cord-nevers that make up a large part of younger audiences.
While a year might still feel like a long time to go until kick-off in Qatar, there are plenty of opportunities ahead for brands to start making connections to football and building an audience.
The final round of World Cup qualifiers takes place in March 2022, while the UEFA Nations League returns in June and September. Even when the home nations aren’t in action, there are still opportunities to connect: France, Argentina, Spain, Italy, and Brazil are the five most talked-about national teams outside of the UK.
That’s not to mention the various club competitions that are scheduled to take place between now and next summer. The @Carabao_Cup and @EmiratesFACup finals are in February and May respectively, while UEFA’s @europacnfleague, @EuropaLeague, and @ChampionsLeague will also crown their winners in May, before the winners of the latter two face off against each other in the Super Cup Final in August.
So no matter how well England or any of the other home nations perform at next year’s World Cup, brands should start building a connection to football now if they want to ensure their Q4 campaigns are winners.
1. GlobalWebIndex, August 2021, UK
2. Brandwatch, November and December 2019/2020, UK
3. Twitter Insights Survey Tech Holiday Shopping, September 2021, UK