Today in Zurich Switzerland a lot of high placed people come together. They are all anxious to find out who will be organizing the FIFA World Cup Football in 2018 (and 2022, but we’ll focus on the 2018 one here). The final round is between four candidates: Netherlands/Belgium, Spain/Portugal, England and Russia. During the day the four candidates can make their final impressions on the members of the FIFA who will be casting their votes in the afternoon. In the countries which are candidates this topic has been in the media a lot in the past few days. And almost everybody says the decision has not been made yet and that it all comes down to the last day. Also everybody says that its very important for the FIFA members to know how the support is within the countries. That is difficult to measure. But maybe we can help the decision makers in Zurich a little bit to see if we can find out what the general feeling is in the different countries. And since we are heavy online users, we’ll be using some online tools to find that out. After all, we always say that online can tell us everything about how people feel, what they are doing and that we can predict based on these numbers. Lets see if we can find out who should be winning the bid… We’ll be using the four big sources on the web currently: Google, Facebook, Twitter and Bing. And we’ll be only using the free available tools they offer.
The first tool we look at is Google Trends. We’ll ignore the Google.com in this one, because there the trending topic is world cup 2022, where the US is trying to get into the winners position. But we can off course look at the different countries competing in the 2018 bid. Here we see that in the UK “world cup bid” is the most trending topic at this time. It even outranks terms like “Wikileaks website” and “nasa announcement”. So that looks good. The UK seems to be actively searching for the bid. That usually is a sign that there is support.
But Google Trends doesn’t give us very much yet, especially since its focused on the UK and US, but not on the other countries, so lets take another step: Google Insights. There we can see an increase in the term “world cup 2018” over the past month. Which off course makes sense with the decision coming closer. And off course this term is most looked for in the UK, since its an English term. So far no surprises, but no extra insights either.
Lets compare the different countries to each other. Its not easy because we deal with different languages so we’ll just make guesses and we’ll just compare the things we can compare, like the term “2018” which is the same in every country :). Here we see that funny enough the term is most searched for in the past 30 days in Belgium, followed by the UK and the Netherlands. This would mean that the Holland/Belgium bid combined is the most searched for, which could indicate the Dutch and Belgians are most supportive, or at least active. But again, its just the term “2018”, so what does that tell us? Another generic term “FIFA” shows us that the UK is the most active country when searching for this topic, but maybe that also has something to do with the BBC documentary which was aired this week about FIFA being corrupt. The UK however is followed closely by The Netherlands and Spain. Looking at the specific country names combined with the “2018” term we can see that “England 2018” is the most searched for world wide, followed by “Spain 2018” and “Portugal 2018”. The Netherlands doesn’t stand a chance here. So Google doesn’t really tells us that much about the support for each candidate. You might conclude that based on the Google Trends the UK and the Holland/Belgium bid are at least the most active ones. But we’ll have to look elsewhere.
Let’s take a look at Twitter, for many ‘traditional media’ the source to see how people think about specific topics. But what can we find here? Twitter has its own “trending topics” which you can also filter down to country specific. What we can see here is that #england2018 is trending in the UK. And if you do a search for that in Twitter you see a lot of tweets coming by every second. So the UK seems to be actively waiting for the results. In The Netherlands we see three trending topics which are related to this subject: Gullit, one of the ambassadors of the Holland / Belgium bid, HollandBelgium, Nederland/Belgie and #wkbid. The Dutch are definitely talking about the bid on Twitter! Over to Spain: …nothing!! The World champions themselves don’t seem to be tweeting much about the bid. Portugal then maybe? Unfortunately Twitter can’t tell us the trends in that region, as can they in Russia or Belgium. So the trending topics on Twitter tell us the UK and especially Holland are ‘active’ with the topic, but it can’t tell us that much yet either.
Over to Twitter search: holland/belgium, Nederland/Belgie, england2018, russia2018 and spain/portugal all give us many tweets. But again, we can’t quite figure out what this tells us. We can’t even figure out how many tweets about the different topics are being send out into the atmosphere.
Maybe some Twitter tools can help us out. Twitterstats tells us that in the past two hours there have been 826 tweets about “World cup 2018”. That doesn’t sound that much to be honest, but ok, we’ll byte and take a closer look. Lets compare the different countries: England2018: 1300 tweets since 9am this morning Holland/Belgium: 0 tweets. 0? Wait, but that’s a trending topic according to Twitter…? Same for Nederland/Belgie. Ok, we’ll skip this one because we clearly won’t get decent results here. Tweetvolume might give us a better idea. Looking at today we see the following numbers:
- England2018: 28 tweets
- Russia2018: 3 tweets
- Holland/belgium: 6 tweets and Nederland/Belgie 7 tweets
- Spain/Portugal: 35 tweets
Again, numbers which don’t seem to be matching with other numbers and don’t seem right at all. Trustworthy? I don’t think so… Conclusion? Twitter doesn’t tell us much either, especially because we can’t get a grip on how people feel about the world cup bids and because we can’t get the right numbers out of Twitter, at least with the free tools out there. Also the difference between a tweet which says “I hope Holland wins the bid” and one saying “I don’t hope Holland wins the bid” is difficult to extract.
Maybe Facebook can help us out then. A search in Facebook does give us a little bit more insight, finally! Searching for “world cup 2018” we see several fanpages coming back. Pages which are made to support the different bids out there. We see a lot of pages rooting for the UK bid. Which makes sense because Facebook is most used in the UK compared to the other countries. Based on the pages and likes you would have to say the UK bid is the most supported one. The “England 2018 World Cup Bid”-page even gets 329,373 likes where the official “The HollandBelgium Bid” page gets 9,985. Still again, this doesn’t really tell us much, except for that the UK is active on Facebook.
Back to search, let’s try Bing. UK Bing News gives us World Cup bid news on top, but other than that Bing doesn’t give us any new information on how the people in the different countries are thinking about their chances. I gave up pretty quickly here because Bing might be able to help me make decisions, they sure are not helping me get insights.
Back to Google
So in the end we return to Google. Google search is our last option to find out the trends on the bid. A simple search on “world cup 2018” returns 32,600,000 results. But that doesn’t say much. Searching only in the past 24 hours it gives us back 1,610,000 results. In the past 24 hours we see results for the different bids:
- england 2018: 1,470,000 results
- holland belgium 2018: 44,200 results
- spain portugal 2018: 310,000 results
- russia 2018: 611,000 results
So again, the most results in the UK, but because of the English language that is no surprise. What is interesting is that Russia 2018 gets that many results. That could mean the Russian bid might be more of a contender than the other online sources tell us.
Conclusion: I have no idea
After going through the four major sources online at the moment, Google, Bing, Facebook and Twitter I still haven’t found what the trend is. I sure as hell cannot find out who will win the bid, but to be honest I was expecting to find more about how the residents of the different countries were thinking of the bid. But the conclusion is that you can only find that out if you are going to dig a lot deeper. But even then you cannot be sure. Simply relying on the tools available won’t help you one single bit. We always say that you can measure everything online and that what happens online is an indication of what goes on offline. In this case I couldn’t find out. And I do think that this is something we could be doing a lot better. I’m sure there are tools out there who could help us (and the decision makers in Zurich) more when trying to figure out things like this, but to be honest, I’m a bit disappointed with the ‘free’ options out there.