Social Media to Boom During Soccer World Cup

Argentina's Lionel Messi

Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are expected to be busy during the Brazil tournament, which an Adidas exec predicts will "undoubtedly be the most social World Cup ever and probably the most social event in history."

Social media giants, such as Twitter, Google's YouTube and Facebook, are predicted to be front and center of marketing efforts during the World Cup 2014 soccer tournament in Brazil, which kicks off Thursday when host Brazil take on Croatia in the opening game, but they may not necessarily experience a huge revenue boon.

Traditional media sectors including TV and radio are predicted to enjoy their usual advertising revenue bounce during the World Cup, the biggest global single-sport event in the sports world. But a Guardian report notes the signs are there for a looming social media soccer revolution.

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Tournament sponsor Adidas, for one, has launched its biggest-ever campaign to support its World Cup involvement, with The Guardian noting that it was "telling" that Adidas has opted to spend more on digital marketing than TV spots.

This from a company whose "Leo Messi's World Cup Dream" TV spot is directed by City of God director Fernando Meirelles, co-directed by Cassiano Prado, features an exclusive track by Kanye West and has a host of soccer stars including Luis Suarez, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Xavi.

For the 2010 World Cup, just 20 percent of marketing spend was digital, The Guardian reported. Marketing spends for the 2014 event are being reported as hitting an estimated $1.3 billion, with an increased share going to digital.

Adidas soccer global brand marketing director Tom Ramsden told The Guardian that the 2014 edition of the quadrennial event is "not about a need to do the big TV ad." He said that it will "undoubtedly be the most social World Cup ever and probably the most social event in history."

Twitter reports there already have been more posts about the World Cup before a referee has blown a whistle in Brazil than for the entire tournament in South Africa in 2010.

And the combination of live TV and Twitter is an irresistible combination, with research from Nielsen showing that 60 percent of British users tweet while watching TV.

Sponsors are expected to benefit from all that and will also look to use the social media power of their soccer stars. For example, Portuguese star player Ronaldo is part of Nike's World Cup campaign and is considered the world's most popular athlete on Twitter with 26.5 million followers.

He tweeted a link to Nike's second World Cup TV ad spot on YouTube, boosting views to more than 70 million within days.

The World Cup tournament, featuring 32 countries including the U.S., Australia, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Germany, Argentina and England, runs through July 13.