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Planet Futbol

Twitter and the World Cup: The social media platform's summer approach

Photo: Alexandre Loureiro/FIFA/AP Images

The Maracana in Rio will field seven matches during the World Cup while surely drawing the focus of social media masses as well.

The one thing that has changed my job the most in the past five years is Twitter. It’s the first thing I look at in the morning to see what’s happening in European soccer, and it’s the best way to make the giant world of soccer a bit more manageable in real time. That’s especially true during the upcoming World Cup, which will be one of the biggest events in Twitter’s history.

“It’s exciting to see how different the landscape is now,” says Lewis Wiltshire, director of media partnerships for Twitter UK. “Twitter is much bigger now than four years ago, and with this World Cup being in Brazil, which is a much friendlier time zone for the U.S., we’ll see a lot more people watching live on TV in the U.S. And when people are watching live TV, Twitter is the platform they turn to to discuss that.”

In the interests of serving Twitter users, there are all sorts of curated public lists that you can follow, including my subjective (and ever-updating) list of must-follow journalists for the World Cup and Twitter’s lists of World Cup players, players by team and official team accounts.

Thirty one of the 32 World Cup teams are now on Twitter (with the U.S., Spain and Italy among those announcing their squads on the platform), as are more than 300 of the tournament’s players. Every World Cup squad has at least one player on Twitter with the recent addition of players from Iran (which doesn’t even allow Twitter within its borders).

The official hashtags for the World Cup will be #WorldCup and #Brazil2014 in English and #Brasil2014 in Spanish. Twitter will be announcing a series of new World Cup bells and whistles next week (I’m hoping for the return of “hashflags” from 2010), but the company already says it will be working with FIFA to allow Twitter users around the world to vote for the Man of the Match in each World Cup game.

When I asked Wiltshire about soon-to-be-released new Twitter features, this is what he said: “Our challenge here, and the thing we’re excited to take on, is we want to surface the best and most relevant content. So when people come to us and they want to get closer to the World Cup via Twitter, we’ll work hard to make sure we surface that content as easily as possible for them. We’re pretty excited about what’s coming.”

Considering the recent Champions League final generated more than 8.4 million global tweets, the World Cup will put that number to shame.

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