Most World Cup watchers probably don’t remember the match on June 12th, when Brazil defeated Croatia, 3-1. But Twitter does.

The game spurred a record number of tweets — 12.2 million — a tremendous start to a tournament that the social-media company is feverishly tracking. In the face of middling user growth at home, Twitter is banking on the games and a rabid fanbase, making a big marketing push and introducing features to encourage new users to join.

Twitter is desperate to grow globally. Its international user growth, 27% last quarter, is outpacing the rate at home, which at 19% is slowing and projected to keep declining. CEO Dick Costolo has called Twitter the “global town square.” Publicly, the World Cup is the stage for its expansion. But it’s taken more critical steps behind-the-scenes.

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