U.S. Soccer is taking to Facebook and Instagram to feed fans with live and social videos ahead of the men’s national team’s World Cup qualifying match against Mexico on Friday, November 11.
On Sunday, U.S. will partner with Fox Sports — which is airing the game on Fox Sports 1 next Friday night — to announce the rosters on Facebook. The live stream will begin on the Fox Soccer Facebook page (5.3 million followers) during halftime of the MLS playoff matchup between the New York Red Bulls and Montreal Impact. Immediately after the broadcast, men’s coach Jürgen Klinsmann will go live on his Facebook page (460,000 followers) to answer fan questions about the roster.
This is only the beginning, says U.S. Soccer, which plans to go live more than a dozen times throughout next week leading up to the rivalry game on Friday night. This includes daily live streams covering training sessions, fan interviews with players, jersey number reveals and even Klinsmann’s full press conference the day before the men’s match.
On game day, U.S. Soccer will host an hour-long live stream featuring Fox Sports soccer reporter Rob Stone interviewing former players Josh Wolff and Jeff Agoos as they re-watch a condensed version of a USA-Mexico game from 2001. Other live streams planned for the day include coverage of the team in the locker room before the match, as they arrive on the field and postgame reactions.
U.S. Soccer has assigned five staffers from its 11-person video and social content team to man the effort. This does not include outside resources such as Stone and other Fox Sports talent assisting with various live productions.
“This is the biggest match we have outside of the World Cup every four years,” said Neil Buethe, the communications director for U.S. Soccer. “There’s an opportunity to stretch this out throughout the entire week, which allows us to build the hype around the game.”
Soccer is the most-followed sport globally on Facebook. Ever since Facebook Live became available to media companies earlier this year, sports leagues, teams and media companies have been quick to embrace the format. In the spring, many MLB teams were using Facebook Live to provide updates from spring training. More recently, the Bleacher Report streamed a live high school football game on the platform.
“With the amount of fans that are already on Facebook, and the general ease-of-use for Facebook Live, it was a no-brainer,” said Buethe.
But it’s not just Facebook that U.S. Soccer is putting some marketing muscle behind next week. Soccer is also the most popular sport on Instagram, with more than 100 million people following at least one soccer-related account globally.
On Instagram, U.S. Soccer has recruited claymation artist Azod Abedikichi to recreate some of the men’s team’s most memorable moments. Abedikichi will create five claymation videos, four covering previous moments with the final video previewing Friday night’s match. U.S. Soccer will also produce daily Instagram Stories that will include fan-submitted videos and photos as well as content created by U.S. Soccer’s content team.
U.S. Soccer is also launching a new Instagram account next week called @Since1913, which will focus on spotlighting the fan culture around U.S. Soccer. It will also include videos and photos submitted by fans.
For next week, all of the Facebook and Instagram content will include information on the game and where people can watch it, Buethe said. “In general, everyone understands that the more we build awareness the more likely people are to tune in — and not just avid soccer fans but the casual sports fan as well,” he said. “The best way to do that today is through the social media channels people are using day in and day out.”