By Reddit Head of Global Insights, Rob Gaige
With the FIFA World Cup in full swing and England set to face defending champion France in this weekend’s quarter final, it’s no surprise that people are going online and using social platforms to express excitement, joy and disappointment as we head closer to the final rounds of the tournament.
For instance, on Reddit alone there were over 530M views of World Cup conversations since the tournament began, happening across nearly 10,000 Reddit communities (Source: Reddit Internal, November – December, 2022).
Across UK Reddit users, we’ve found up to a 4x increase in conversations celebrating England during an international football tournament, proving sporting optimism is high and Brits are eager to celebrate more success, in addition to recent highlights including reaching the first Men’s Final since 1966 and still riding high from Women’s Euros win (Source: Reddit Internal, November – December, 2022).
So, with such an engaged, diverse and passionate group of World Cup and football fans found online, how can brands get involved and get in front of these audiences in a way that makes an impact and feels relevant?
True England fans expect their team to win, but where there’s optimism, there’s often a tinge of doubt and realism that their team may underperform. In terms of how brands can respond, playful advertising with hints of self-deprecation – in true British style – will align with the broader national feeling. The UK can be extremely passionate about football, but they’ll also laugh at themselves and their misfortunes and brands will be rewarded for speaking the lighthearted language of those online. Playful content teasing history, politics, royalty and other aspects of British culture can also help make the World Cup more accessible, heightening our sense of national community and pulling in more casual football fans.
Additionally, brands can engage with fans far beyond the ninety minutes (plus added time…plus extra time…and do we need to bring up English penalty kicks?). With fans heading online for pre-match anticipation, half time chatter and post-match de-briefs either straight after the game or the next day. This offers ample brand opportunities for engagement and genuine connection with audiences online, meeting them in the moment and sharing helpful input that adds value and builds brand relevance.
With this, it’s important to note that Reddit’s World Cup audience, and those found on other social platforms, often extends far beyond traditional sports fans, meaning a range of brands, including those not directly tied to the tournament, can get involved. As an example, a fashion brand showcasing pre-match styles and exclusive apparel releases could attract fashion fans with little interest in football, in the same way that a restaurant brand getting involved in a foodie community to share half-time snack ideas could offer relevant inspiration at a time when it’s genuinely useful.
Our research also found that many are likely seeing the tournament as an escape from the realities of everyday life, especially within the current cost of living crisis, with 4-in-5 UK Reddit users saying their cost of living has increased (GlobalWebIndex, UK, Q1 2022) and 1-in-3 UK Reddit users feeling worried, upset, or frustrated (GlobalWebIndex, UK, Q4 2021). Sport is a rare escape in challenging times and with this, when engaging online around the World Cup, brands should ensure they’re remaining considerate of wider society issues and ensure any external comms or activity within communities acknowledges the situation, restates their values, and is relevant and real.
It’s clear there are plenty of opportunities for brands to get involved with passionate fans online, and talking to these engaged audiences about the conversations they care about will generate the best success for brands this year. Leading with authenticity and humour will go down well with football fans and can lead to long-lasting brand connections that will extend well beyond the World Cup final.
By ensuring they are adding value, staying relevant and finding creative ways to connect with audiences on World Cup topics that aren’t directly related to the tournament itself, brands can stand out and cut through the noise, reaching a vast cross-section of consumers across global demographics.