There is an age-old debate on the word ‘football’ – there is world football (or ‘soccer’ to us Americans) and American football.  To me, real football is played with shoulder pads and helmets, demonstrates a wide range of skills from running to catching to strength and toughness (with no credit for bad acting to fake injury), and ends with a winner and a loser … no ties.

football helmet 1Hearing all the hype on the World Cup back in 2010, I invested 90 minutes watching a mildly entertaining spectacle of ‘keep away’ (we used to play that in grade school) which ultimately ended in a tie.  Really, you’re kidding me. That’s it?  A tie. It had exactly as much impact as if they hadn’t played the game at all – except I was 90 minutes older and (theoretically) wiser.

In the Minority, Again

When the world cup came around this year, I was already a little jaded about the whole event and, to be honest, not all that interested.  Apparently, I’m in the minority globally because I can see the social media results on a daily basis.  For example, there were 485,000 new twitter followers on the tournament’s first day, 8 million ‘likes’ on the world cup-specific Facebook page, and 2.5 billion page views across platforms in 5 days.  Over the course of the tournament one of every two people on earth will watch at least a few minutes of the games. According to CNNTEch, the World Cup is becoming the largest social media event ever.

How Do They Do It with Official Digital Coverage?

Although I don’t appreciate the game on its own merits, I am interested in the digital aspects and impacts of the massive global tournament.  What does it take to execute a digital plan for the world cup? According to Mashable it takes: world cup

  • 68+ digital FIFA team members stationed in Brazil
  • 12 FIFA editors stationed at each of the tournament’s 12 venues
  • 12 FIFA photographers fanned out across the country
  • Dozens of FIFA programmers, writers and strategists
  • A massive public audience (about half of the world’s population at some point) and some subset of those participating in social media

And what are they doing?

  • Publishing content on the 6 FIFA World Cup websites (in 6 languages: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, and Arabic)
  • Monitoring the official FIFA World Cup App
  • Posting images on the FIFA World Cup Instagram account
  • Listening, commenting, and monitoring FIFA social channels
  • Posting, liking, and tweeting in many languages around the world

Variety of Video Options

And don’t forget YouTube and the over 9 million videos posted on ‘world cup 2014’.  (With 100 hours of video uploaded every minute of every day to YouTube, Vimeo, Ustream, and other platforms, I’m not surprised there are so many World Cup videos).

You can find a wide variety of videos, from the Top Best Goals, to World Cup 2014 Predictions, to the opening ceremonies, to – my favorite – fake injuries.

Top best goals:

Fake Injuries:


Cisco Colleagues Watch on our Own App

At Cisco, like everywhere, the world cup is a topic of discussion, both in the hallways and through social media networks.  Our internal Cisco TV team is running live streaming of the World Cup 2014 through our mobile app for employees to follow anywhere on any device.  You can imagine that work meetings take on a different flavor as colleagues watch the games live, chat with fellow fans, and root for favorite teams (go, USA!) through the internal Cisco TV mobile app.

2014 World Cup Sets the Stage for Rio 2016 Olympics

Of more interest to me than the actual games is how the event is driving digital change and adoption in Rio  de Janerio and creating a legacy of digital inclusion; especially with the 2016 Olympic games also to take place in Rio de Janerio.  Cisco will be central to the Olympic Games in two years, so for me, the World Cup is a warm-up event to see how digital – through the web, mobile devices, social media, and video – will play out.

We can even compare and contrast this tournament with other high-profile championships.  For example, the opening match between host country Brazil and Croatia had only 12.2 million tweets this week, while the 2014 Superbowl between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos garnered 24.9 million tweets. I suspect that Twitter and other social outlets will light-up as we approach the semi-finals and finals.

travelballGlobal Star Power vs. Local Celebrities

Far moLamorindare important to me than the World Cup or even the Superbowl is the fact that my grandson is playing in the U.S. national travel team baseball championship near Atlanta this week in the 11U category (on the #2 ranked team in the U.S.).

We’re in high anxiety mode rooting long distance for the Lamorinda Knights! This is one case where the global superstars don’t even compare to our little hometown heroes.


  • Blanket Coverage

  • Anywhere Access

  • Real-Time Updates

  • High Engagement 

Whether it’s my type of game or not (not), the kind of football being played at the 2014 World Cup is the rest of the world’s most popular game, and the World Cup itself is the world’s most popular event. My interest is piqued, however, watching how it impacts and is impacted by digital channels, devices, apps, and new ‘digital’ behaviors.

It may not be football, but is sure is interesting. Especially interesting is the rise of digital as the medium or channel by which most of us are watching, sharing, participating, or getting updates.

Just imagine how digital is already – and will continue to – transform business and life in the months and years ahead…



Mark Yolton

Vice President of Digital

Cisco Marketing