What Eli Manning, The Super Bowl and Twitter Mean for Your Brand

Brady Has the Rings, But Manning the Edge In Sentiment

By Published on .

John Squire
John Squire

Upsets don't just happen on the football field as they did last Sunday in Indianapolis. Brands can also be caught off guard if take their eye of the ball.

Last week, leading up to Super Bowl XLVI IBM and the University of Southern California Annenberg Innovation Lab conducted the first sentiment analysis of the two Super Bowl quarterbacks. The study was designed to illustrate how new analytics technologies make it possible to quickly assess the positive, negative and neutral sentiments shared by consumers or in this particular case, fans.

Now as a marketer you may be asking why this sentiment analysis is important and what it means for those of us that are not on the playing field. Let's think of football players as brands. Each player carries his own reputation in the market, his own value, and each is closely connected to their brand presence on social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and more. Now while players may not monitor their brand sentiment, it is critical that businesses do because you never know when an upset may be in the making.

Specifically businesses must embrace advances in analytics to regularly gain new insights into consumer perceptions of their brand. The chatter can center on new products, an ad campaign or perhaps a company's overall business practices. While monitoring this vast amount of data might sound like an insurmountable task, today's technologies are able to distinguish irony and figure out which tweets are just background noise. This allows businesses to focus on the conversations that are truly important. What you find out might surprise you as was the case with the recent Super Bowl sentiment analysis.

In the days leading up to the Super Bowl analysis showed that Brands Brady and Manning were in statistical dead heat: Brady held 65% positive sentiment and Manning 62%. Then on the Friday before the game Manning lead what would turn out to be his first winning drive of the weekend. Specifically we found that Super Bowl Twitter buzz drove the Giant quarterback's Twitter Score or, 'T score,' for positive sentiment ahead of Brady. Manning ended the day with 66 percent versus Brady's 61 percent, which represents an 8-point shift compared to the previous day.

These figures represent a big branding upset on the digital playing field. Most sports and marketing followers assumed that Brady would end up far ahead given his lofty status as an elite QB for many years and three championship rings. In this day and age however, it's no longer safe to make such assumptions.

The IBM USC analysis illustrates the potential insight that social media analytics can deliver to a brand — whether you're a professional football player or a global enterprise. With this capability businesses are able to plug into the conversations taking place on social media channels at any given point in time, monitor them in real-time and glean businesses actionable insights. In the age of the empowered consumer, visibility of this kind may be the key to scoring big with your customers.

John Squire is the director of digital marketing and analytics IBM where he focuses on the company's Smarter Commerce initiative. John writes frequently, including for IBM's Smarter Commerce blog, and also loves to hear from readers. Follow him on Twitter at @IBMsmrtcommerce.
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