World Cup Showdown: Facebook & Twitter battle for second-screen share

During the World Cup, blood, sweat and tears won’t be relegated to the pitch – they’ll also be front & centre online. While the soccer teams battle it out in Brazil, Twitter and Facebook have launched their own battle royale on the web. Who will emerge victorious in the battle for second-screen share?

Facebook Ref

Facebook’s World Cup contributions come in the form of a colourful character called the Facebook Ref. Although he’s been officially tasked with keeping Facebook users in the loop during the tournament, it’s not immediately obvious what type of content the Ref will provide. The page at has been populated with quirky soccer-focused videos and directs users to, an aggregate of the #WorldCup hashtag.

Facebook Ref World Cup

Facebook Ref video

Facebook Ref

The Ref has been saucily responding to certain comments on Facebook, an indication that the content will likely be quite personality-driven. It’s also heavily targeted, presumably by language, and promoted in the newsfeed.

Facebook Ref replies World Cup

The Trending World Cup feed finally makes use of Facebook’s hashtag feature in an un-ironic way. The feed shows upcoming matches and aggregates all public conversations on the hashtag. Given the obvious issue with Facebook’s hashtags – that any content must come from friends or be public to be visible – it’s unsurprising that the Facebook Ref was instituted to provide commentary on the tag.

Facebook #WorldCup hashtag

The internet world will be watching to see how Facebook’s first real custom content play pans out. Will it be successful? What will the Ref say/do? Is this a signal from the Facebook powers that be that video is the new photo? Stay tuned…

Twitter’s World Cup Experience

Often seen as the natural platform fit for realtime experiences, Twitter is capitalizing on this in a big way during World Cup 2014 with a dedicated program.

It started with the “hashflags” – Twitter’s new functionality allowing for hashtagged 3-letter country codes to be turned into flags during the World Cup.

Twitter World Cup Hashtag Hashflags

Upon login to Twitter’s website, users will see this banner encouraging them to prepare for the World Cup with all-new features.

Twitter World Cup Banner

The experience is personal and team-driven, allowing users to pick a side, change their profile photo for the World Cup, and tweet out their allegiances. It’s also entirely functional: upon choosing their team, Twitter asks users to follow team-specific accounts on the platform to enrich the World Cup experience. And, of course, there’s a hashtag – all conversation about the World Cup should be tagged with, what else, #WorldCup.

Twitter World Cup pick your side

Twitter World Cup profile image changeTwitter World Cup starter Kit follow

Twitter World Cup tweet

Twitter’s World Cup experience isn’t as flashy or quirky as Facebook’s content-driven ref, but it’s incredibly aligned to how users naturally use the platform and provides obvious, immediate value to World Cup fans.

Who do you think will win this battle royale off the pitch?

My money’s on Twitter for functionality, but I’m incredibly curious to see how Facebook’s quirky content play pans out.