By Esteban Israel
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil's World Cup was the biggest social media event on record involving 350 million Facebook Inc users worldwide, the company claimed on Monday, as it made strides into the so-called "real-time" market dominated by Twitter.
People increasingly are using social networking to comment on global events seen on television, like the month-long soccer tournament won by Germany on Sunday.
Figures obtained by Reuters showed that the 350 million users generated a record Facebook "conversation" with 3 billion posts, comments and likes.
"We knew the World Cup was going to be big, but this level of engagement is remarkable," Nick Grudin, Facebook's director of global media partnerships, told Reuters.
"It was the highest level of conversation around a single event that we have ever measured."
Audience is crucial for companies like Facebook, which make money by selling ads to advertisers interested in reaching its 1.28 billion monthly active users.
Facebook's record traffic around the World Cup suggested the Menlo Park, California, company was increasingly used as a platform to discuss events in real time, a segment pioneered by microblogging website Twitter Inc.
The widespread use of mobile phones that have made social media seemingly ubiquitous helped explain Facebook's record numbers.
Germany's 1-0 win over Argentina in the World Cup final on Sunday was the most commented match of the tournament, with 88 million users and 280 million interactions, the company said.
Brazil's star Neymar led the ranking of most talked about player, followed by Argentina's Lionel Messi, Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Uruguay's Luis Suárez.
And with 26 percent of all World Cup interactions, Brazil was the strongest voice in Facebook's biggest conversation ever. The United States accounted for 10 percent of the posts, comments and likes; Indonesia 6 percent; Mexico 5 percent and Argentina 4 percent.
"Facebook was the global stadium for the 2014 World Cup," said Facebook's Grudin.
(Reporting by Esteban Israel; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)