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Case study: Homeless World Cup

Global strategy, design, technology, digital operations: over the last six years, Loft has worked with the Homeless World Cup to deliver one of the world’s great live web events every year

The Homeless World Cup is a global social enterprise supported by Nike and UEFA to tackle homelessness through sport. 250,000 homeless people have taken part in its partner programmes in 70 nations worldwide in recent years, and the annual world cup tournament attracts hundreds of thousands of fans both at the event and online each year.

Loft has been working with the Homeless World Cup on global web strategy, technology, communications and tournament logistics since 2006, and has been involved on the ground at every tournament since 2007, where we coordinate a huge online media event with schedules, results, stories, photos, videos and more. During this time, we have designed, built, adapted and improved the Homeless World Cup’s website and strategy many times over to take advantage of changing opportunities and user expectations for social enterprise online, and have grown its reach from tens of thousands to millions of people worldwide.

For 2012’s event in the main square of Mexico City, Loft’s objectives were fourfold. First, to give viewers around the world an online experience as rich and live as attending the tournament itself, with live video and commentary from three pitches and a constant supply of news, stories and imagery. Second, to tell the bigger picture story around the event – that it is helping hundreds of thousands of people all year round, not just those at the tournament. Third, to thread social media in at the heart of the operation to support mass crowd content and buzz around and after the event. And to achieve all this, a brand new site and technology infrastructure with stronger foundations to support a long term social strategy.

Some of the most notable features of the new site include a restructured home page balancing live match updates with editorial and social content in about equal proportions. And a live, “virtual stadium” where people can cheer and comment with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram in realtime as they watch the matches. At peak times, thousands of messages were being posted each minute.

During the ten days of the 2012 tournament in Mexico City, we were also able to measure user behaviour and performance in realtime, and rapidly, iteratively adapt our strategy and release new and improved functionality to deliver more towards key objectives each day.During the course of the project, we worked a number of partners, including FundaciĆ³n TelMex and UnoTV in Mexico, and Zense based in Chicago.

As a result, the overall web presence attracted some 250,000 visitors over the 10 days of the tournament, giving us 25,000 hours of eyeball time, and 3.5 million content impressions across the website, Facebook and YouTube.

Loft’s MD, Nick Nettleton, spoke at the European iPass Conference 2013 on the event and future strategy, and Loft continues to be involved in strategy, planning and execution on an ongoing basis. 2013 includes a focus on measuring and communicating global and local impact, crowdsourcing content and development activity, further improving the social experience, and facilitating stronger pan-global teamwork.

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