Ahead of England’s World Cup semi-final, Alex Morton looks at how a social media charm offensive by the three lions squad in Russia has won the hearts and minds of the nation…
Football’s coming home, I know it, you know it, the whole nation bloody well knows it. For the first time since 1990, England are in the semi- final of a World Cup and we’re getting a new bank holiday.
The stellar performances on the pitch have got us there but it’s also worth giving a special mention to the social media performances of the lads too.
That’s right, JLingz, Walker, Captain Kane and co are leading the virtual line, scoring retweets, likes and shares left, right and centre, uplifting the mood of a nation. As the three lions fully embrace the memes and social media jokes surrounding the campaign, the football soon followed.
Unsurprisingly, the England boys have received social media training at U17, U19 and U21 level and it seems to have paid off. Jesse Lingard, who is prolific on social media, has not stopped since arriving in Russia, perhaps the highlight being his brilliant tweet after England dramatically beat Colombia on penalties. The picture shows the Manchester United man clutching a phone to his ear captioned with the lyric “No mum, I’m not coming home. It’s…”
It’s not just Lingard either; the likes of Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire have been brilliant too.
With the England squad sporting a combined following of more than 50m on social media and captain Kane leading the way with a total following of 8.16m, it’s no wonder social media is playing such an important supporting role at this World Cup.
Let’s not forget the fans at home too who are doing their part. A multitude of video celebrations are being shared across the internet spurring the players on to bring it home.
Brands are also gripped by World Cup fever as England’s journey continues. Aldi have stepped up to the mark and promised to close their stores at 3pm on Sunday if England progress to the final. Then we have Ikea, of course, who were gracious in defeat to the mighty England and offered fans £1 fish and chips to celebrate.
Three UK also nailed it by changing some of their storefronts to feature three lion emojis. The World Cup presents plenty of opportunities for brands to join in and contribute to the fandom without being intrusive.
Historically, we talk about football players and their social media activity as a negative. Past posts and tweets on player’s timelines often come back to haunt them, along with poorly timed posts right after an absolute drubbing. For example, when Wayne Rooney tried to fight himself in 2011.
Or when Jan Vertonghen’s bowling defeat with the national side happened to fall shortly after Tottenham failed to finish third in the 2011 – 2012 season.
All jokes aside, reactive social media done the right way can be extremely effective and with most of the England boys onboard and engaging with fans, it’s no wonder the whole nation is behind the team more than ever before.
If we somehow don’t win the World Cup, we can take solace in the fact that we’ve won the next best prize… The Social Media World Cup.
P.S. It’s coming home