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Remember the old ABC Wide World Of Sports motto? “The thrill of victory, and agony of defeat?” For those of you who aren’t feeling either emotion in your current sports coverage, the latest social media maelstrom had plentiful portions of both. Two powerful, self-made women experienced two very different and divisive social phenomena – one with victory and the other with some serious agony.

Our gold-medal star last week was Wendy Davis. In June, I had no clue who Wendy Davis was, and let’s be honest – neither did ANY of you. She’s a state senator from Texas, and I’ve always tried to keep my distance from Lone Star politics. Actually, I can barely remember who MY state representative is…. (I kid, I kid…It’s Brian Sims. How can you forget HIM?). Davis shot to the national spotlight when she valiantly attempted a 12-hour filibuster to thwart a bill that would have dramatically changed Texan womens’ access to legal and safe abortions. As her filibuster approached the midnight deadline, Davis’ efforts became international news. Memes and stories about the tale were pushed out onto Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and blogs from various allies across the county, including Planned Parenthood. Davis also got a lot of media mentions – more than many state senators will ever see – but her numbers on social media are more exciting. Check out the chart below:

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Using our old pal, social monitoring system Radian6, we can begin to see how social media sites are driving the increase in Wendy Davis’ name recognition. Certainly, close to 4Kplacements in mainstream media is enough to get your clipping service exhausted – but look at her Facebook and Twitter chatter! She’s more talked about than that other Wendy chick who sells hamburgers!

Hopefully, along with analyzing Wendy’s mentions, her own team of social experts is also looking at the SENTIMENT. What exactly are people saying about Wendy in all of those many, many mentions?

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This word cloud, again pulled from the ever-resourceful Radian 6, shows us some of the terms and hashtags that appear most frequently with Wendy’s name.

Aside from “infanticide,” the overall cloud features positive words from the social media users tweeting. No wonder she was able to stand for 11 straight hours – the entire Twittersphere was cheering her on!

On the flipside, we have America’s buttery sweetheart Paula Deen who has had a wringer of a week. Talk about going from the frying pan into the fryer! If you’ve recently woken up from a (food) coma, then go here for a full story on the crisis. Deen’s dizzying fall from grace would APPEAR to be due to public outcry. While the Food Network and other corporate partners certainly didn’t allow her any margarine of error, I’ve noticed that a lot of people have voiced sympathy for her. Some fans have even gone as far as to cry foul to the organizations that have terminated their relationship with her.

Here are Deen’s mentions in roughly the same time as Davis:

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The Queen of Southern Cooking has substantially larger numbers and a different breakdown. While Davis supporters and detractors are crying out on Twitter, Deen’s (probably) older audience is heavy (pun intended) on Facebook. Again, lets look at the sentiment through the word cloud.

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It’s hard to tell here. Interesting to see the word “vilified” – which might indicate Deen’s supporters are possibly a larger chorus than her haters on social media. It’s definitely worth a deeper look. If not by Deen, then by the bacon-fat suppliers and butter producers who have hired her to hawk their products. Social media listening would show what Deen’s support level is like – directly from the voice of the customer.

While these news stories are unique, they show just how important it is to monitor your brand, company, or public figure on social media. When a crisis does occur, start listening to the public. Social media allows everyone instant forums, and you’re able to eavesdrop. Tools like Radian6 and many others make it easy to check in on your customers or fan base and keep an ear to what they’ve got to say. Understanding how to use those tools, and being able to manipulate them to find the nuggets of data you’re looking for is even more critical. But, I can’t give away ALL our secrets…

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About the Author

Matthew Ray

Creative Director and Co-Founder of ChatterBlast, Matthew Ray is a fan of comic books, ice cream and sitcoms from the late 1980s.

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