Facebook Touts 1 Billion World Cup Interactions

Hey -- this World Cup thing is catching on. Facebook on Monday said soccer fans have generated more than 1 billion World Cup-related posts, comments and likes from 220 million people since the tournament began on June 12.

How does that match up with other big events, like the Olympics, the Super Bowl (only one day!), the NCAA tournament, and the Oscars?

“Facebook generally sees a large amount of conversation around sporting events, but the World Cup has proven to be a unique moment. Facebook’s data editors have never measured an event — sports or otherwise — that has topped a billion interactions,” stated a company blog post today.

The World Cup benefits from good timing, especially in the U.S., where the NBA and NHL seasons have recently wrapped up, baseball is in midseason and (American) football is still a couple months away. Most of the top professional soccer leagues outside the U.S. don’t start up again until later this summer.

Facebook noted that during Saturday's match between host Brazil and Chile in the first round of the knockout stage, 31 million people had 75 million interactions. Still, that’s not as much activity as in the World Cup opener on June 12 when 58 million people put up 140 million posts, comments and likes.

Players themselves, many of whom likely grew up with Facebook, are helping drive the activity. A selfie of Brazilian stars Neymar and Hulk had over 2.5 million likes and 75,000 shares, making it the most “engaging” post by any players during the tournament. And 11 player posts three players--Neymar Argentina’s Leo Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo -- have each drawn more than 1 million likes.

During the Brazil-Chile game, men 18-24 make up the largest demographic when it comes to people buzzing about the World Cup, with Brazil the top country, followed by the U.S. and Chile.

Facebook, of course, has been battling Twitter to be the center of real-time World Cup chatter. Both social networks have created their own dedicated hubs for the global event and are vying for attention and ad dollars flowing from the tournament. That also includes competing on usage stats.

Twitter on Sunday, for instance, said the Brazil-Chile game was the most tweeted of the World Cup so far, with 16.4 million, spiking at one point to 389,000 per minute -- topping the Super Bowl’s 382,000. Last week, Twitter also reported that the first two weeks of the event had generated 300 million tweets, doubling the total for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The sparring between Facebook and Twitter has led to questions about how “World Cup-related” interactions are counted and renewed sniping about the value of a Facebook like -- the low-hanging fruit of interaction. But the game of one-upmanship between the social networks will likely continue well into next month until the  final on July 13. One or the other could end up with a yellow card before it's all over.

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