There's a new buzz about this year's World Cup and I'm not talking about the drone of vuvuzelas. The sporting event of the summer has reached new levels of hype through increased traffic on Twitter, the highly popular social networking channel.
While years past also saw online communities rooting for their favorite teams or talking about matches, Twitter has brought audiences around the world right onto South African turf. Soccer fans can "tweet" or post immediate comments on players and live games. And it's now possible to communicate with your favorite players who are also active on Twitter--an opportunity that a mere match ticket can't provide.
This World Cup Twitter phenomenon is global and even South Korea has seen a revived fervor among fans who have caught on to the Twitter craze. Outdoor cheering events have maintained strong, if not higher, attendance this year, and Twitter, no doubt, has played a hand in organizing such large gatherings.
When we first saw the Korean World Cup fever take off in 2002, World Cup PR had the home advantage. But Twitter has created a way to maintain that level of passion and interest by offering a way to attend the event online. Sports Donga has its own Twitter page (http://twitter.com/sportsdonga), where reporters offer live updates and a behind-the-scenes look at the events in South Africa. SBS commentator Cha Bum-kun has attracted a large following through his personalized updates that have brought Korean audiences beyond the analyst’s desk to experience the full scale of the World Cup.
Korean followers can once again feel like part of the World Cup. Twitter has opened a gateway to South Africa and in so doing, has become the World Cup's main PR agent.