As World Cup frenzy swept soccer fans all over the world this year, social media analysts have been looking at how the action on the pitch is reverberating online. While the data isn’t available yet for this year’s tournament, in 2014 there were some 672 million tweets featuring #WorldCup, according to Twitter. It’s clear that fan engagement is more important than ever to ensure the growth of major international events and global brands.

The same is true in professional league soccer. Spain’s FC Barcelona isn’t only one of the most successful soccer teams in the world, it’s also tops at driving engagements with fans. In January 2017, it generated 181 million engagements over Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, more than double those of other leading clubs.

Revitalizing Barca’s online presence

Barca’s fan engagements will be brought to a whole new level, however, with a new ID system developed by Rakuten. In the 2017-2018 season, Rakuten became the club’s Main Global Partner and its first-ever Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner. One example of this change is how Rakuten’s Viber messaging app, which has around 1 billion users worldwide, has become one of FC Barcelona’s official communication channels.

As part of the partnership, Rakuten and FC Barcelona have formed an Innovation Council to examine how Rakuten’s technology can support the club and add functionality to its digital platforms. A perfect opportunity to implement this is the club’s upgrading of its website and renewal of its overall digital strategy.

As part of this effort, Rakuten has provided a customized ID service to FC Barcelona’s new website to vastly improve its capabilities and engagements. The new website was launched on Monday, December 3.

Introducing the Barca ID

“One of the ideas from the Innovation Council is Barca ID — we will use Rakuten technology to power the ID service on FC Barcelona’s new site,” says Fernando Paulo, general manager of Rakuten’s Ecosystem Services Department. “ID is a critical part of FC Barcelona’s digital strategy. With the new system, FC Barcelona aims to gradually draw fans from other social media platforms onto their own digital platform.”

Barca fans now have a seamless, Rakuten-powered ID service aiming to connect them to all aspects of Barca’s online presence, such as access to tickets, VIP services and official merchandise. The club will benefit by having a system customized to meet its needs, as well as full control over user IDs and information, without needing to rely on a third party.

The collaboration between FC Barcelona and Rakuten, from tech to branding and fan empowerment, promises to continue to deliver exciting new enhancements to the customer experience for both Barca Fans and Rakuten users.