Sochi Olympics Social Sentiment Study


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If you’ve been reading the US news, you might get the impression that certain people and brands took a beating at Sochi. Many thought Vladimir Putin’s image suffered, as much for the facilities as for Russia’s attitude towards the LGBT community. Brand experts also warned that sponsors like McDonalds would pay a heavy price for supporting the Games.

Here’s the surprise: None of that seems to be true—at least not in the US.

A little background. At POSSIBLE, we use a tool called social sentiment analysis to help us understand what people think about brands. It allows us to search on keywords, like “McDonalds” or “Putin,” across a range of social media platforms and find out what people are saying about them.

Social sentiment analysis doesn’t paint a perfect picture of a brand’s health. McDonalds, for example, has plenty of fans, but they tend to be quiet on social media. Instead, this kind of analysis can tell you how events are affecting a brand. If more people view McDonalds negatively as a result of Sochi, that would show up in the numbers.

Here's some numbers our performance team pulled together around social sentiment and the Sochi Olympics

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Sochi Olympics Social Sentiment Study

  1. 1. POSSIBLE SOCHI 2014 SENTIMENT STUDY February 25, 2014
  2. 2. 2
  3. 3. Putin + Sochi Sentiment Study Social sentiment around Vladimir Putin. 3
  4. 4. While you might assume that the enormous amount of negative press surrounding the Sochi Olympics and Vladimir Putin would lead to a precipitous decline in overall sentiment, this has not been the case. According to the data, when mentioning Putin in conjunction with the Olympics, his overall negative sentiment declines. This would indicate that his handling of the event has managed to improve his public perception. 4
  5. 5. Findings • Following the Opening Ceremonies, conversations including Putin + Olympics showed an 8% decline in negative sentiment while conversations including only Putin increased in negative sentiment by 5%. • When comparing the beginning of the measurement period (before Opening Ceremonies) to the end, Putin and Putin+Olympics conversations started at a delta of 10.7% and closed with a delta of 1.8%. • In total, there was a total of 1,983 tweets involving the phrases Sochi and Problems. However, the majority of these took place in a period between 2/3 and 2/12 with instances of these mentions dropping off sharply thereafter. • This data reflects US numbers only. 5
  6. 6. McDonald’s Tempest in a Twitter teapot. Social sentiment around McDonalds, which were attacked by the LGBT community for their support of Sochi, did not show any major change over the course of the games. 6
  7. 7. 50K 100% Sentiment and Volume - Monthly 45K 90% 67% 40K 80% 35K 66% 70% 30K 60% 25K 50% 20K 40% 15K 30% 10K 33% 32% 5K 20% 10% 0% 0 Nov-13 Dec-13 Volume Jan-14 Positive Feb-14 Negative Sentiment and Volume - February 2014 8K 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 7K 6K 5K 4K 3K 2K 1K 0 Volume Positive Negative In late January, as a means of protest, LGBT activists hijacked the hashtag #CheersToSochi which was part of a social campaign launched by McDonald’s to promote the Olympic games. McDonald’s ended the campaign prematurely but overall the controversy shows no substantial impact on brand sentiment. Share of positive and negative showed little change between January and February and relative to earlier months, share of negative sentiment shrank. Looking at daily trends we can see the volatile nature of sentiment – underscoring the importance of monitoring over an extended period and not just relative to a specific event. 7
  8. 8. Stolichnaya Stoli has come under fire because it is seen as a Russian brand. In fact, it is not. Stoli is a Latvian brand that is in a fierce trade dispute with a Russian company of the same name. Nonetheless, it is getting hit hard. 8
  9. 9. Stolichnaya - Sentiment and Volume - Monthly 700 100% 90% 600 80% 67% 500 56% 400 70% “Stolichnaya” and “Stoli” trend similarly month over month with a marked increased in share of negative sentiment at the beginning of February when the Olympic games began. 60% 50% 300 40% 44% 200 33% 30% 20% 100 10% 0 0% Nov-13 Dec-13 Volume Jan-14 Negative Feb-14 Positive Stoli - Sentiment and Volume - Monthly Stoli - Sentiment and Volume - February 2014 100% Volume Negative Positive Volume Positive Negative 9 2/20/2014 2/19/2014 2/18/2014 Feb-14 2/17/2014 Jan-14 2/16/2014 Dec-13 2/15/2014 Nov-13 2/14/2014 0% 2/13/2014 10% 0 2/12/2014 20% 26% 500 30% 2/11/2014 1K 2/10/2014 40% 42% 2/9/2014 50% 2K 2/8/2014 60% 2/7/2014 57% 2/6/2014 2K 2/5/2014 70% 73% 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 2/4/2014 3K 400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 2/3/2014 80% 2/2/2014 90% 3K 2/1/2014 4K
  10. 10. Findings • While daily trends reflect the volatility of social media, a month over month view is best to observe appreciable shift in share of sentiment. • Though the impact of a brand controversy may be immediately reflected in daily volume and sentiment share, when we look at a 3 or 6 month trend we see that the effect is not lasting. • In the case of all brands analyzed, adding in qualifying keywords such as “sochi”, “Olympics” or “boycott” reduced the volume of related posts such that the data could not be analyzed for sentiment. • There may be a larger takeway here in that there should be different approaches when analyzing sentiment of a brand vs analyzing sentiment around an issue, event or person. 10