A Social Look at the 2018 Oscars: Predictions Vs Surprises

Niraj Sharma |
 03/07/18 |
4 min read

Image attribution: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfIPYqmxfy8

Nowadays, brand health depends on your ability to act not only on the data at hand, but on your ability to use social media analytics to act on the likeliest predictions that data offers.

Because nothing gets predictions flying quite like awards shows, let’s look at social data surrounding this past Sunday’s Academy Awards for a lesson in predictions vs. surprises.

The Lay of the Land

As our Instant Search overview of the last month shows, there’ve been a lot of posts leading up to the Oscars – nearly 9 million, in fact. However, the bulk of those – nearly 7 million – happened on Sunday. No surprise there.

What else were people talking about? Let’s look at some hashtags and terms.

Predictably, many of the names of the movies nominated for Best Picture are all hashtagged, with preference for Get Out, Coco, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, and Call Me By Your Name over Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread, and Lady Bird.

Many actors are mentioned by name, including Emma Stone, Lupita Nyong’o, Frances McDormand, Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Emily Blunt, and host Jimmy Kimmel – but Best Director nominee Guillermo Del Toro is referenced more than any of them.

A number of Oscar-related and unrelated hashtags are also in the mix, like Best Original Song nominee #ThisIsMe, #WakandaForever (in tribute to the new Black Panther movie), #TimesUp, #MeToo, and #PorqueSoyMexicano (a Golden Globe interview quote of Del Toro’s that has caught on with those of Mexican descent).

The Top Terms reveal much of the same, with greater mentions of the nominees, winners and presenters, and mentions of the specific award categories:

If you were following the Oscar conversation in real-time, you could click on any of these hashtags or terms to reveal a sampling of sound bytes. Before joining in the conversation, however, you’d want to run a new search on any terms relevant to your brand to understand sentiment and themes for those particular terms.

For example, searching on Jordan Peele and looking at Popular Posts reveals a lot of love for the actor-turned-writer/director’s historic Best Original Screenplay win. But there’s also a lot of talk of former sketch comedy partner Keegan-Michael Key’s reaction to the win – i.e., we all want a best friend who loves us that much.

The relationship you have with your audience would determine which approach you’d take in talking about this topic.

Predictions and Upsets Abound – at the Oscars and on Social

Looking at the various Terms and Hashtag volumes gives you a sense of where viewer loyalties were throughout the broadcast. Clearly, not everyone was going to be happy in the end. Though Lady Bird’s share of voice was decidedly smaller, the Greta-Gerwig-penned and directed film’s supporters were a passionate lot.

And passion must always be watched carefully, lest it spiral into a crisis.

Luckily there was nothing at this year’s Oscars to get that riled up about. However, there were certainly opportunities to say the wrong thing as this year’s show continued to ride the wave of the Time’s Up and Me Too movements.

The smartest move anytime there’s potential for disaster looming is to track conversation and sentiment in real-time, and react quickly to keep PR crises at bay.

Unless you’re Harvey Weinstein, a quick response is usually enough to save your brand.


Apologizing and taking responsibility are also smart moves – unless they’ll make the situation worse. Jimmy Kimmel, Warren Beatty, and La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz together deftly handled last year’s Best Picture snafu, explaining what happened, and apologizing profusely as the correct Best Picture – Moonlight – was revealed following the mistaken announcement that La La Land had won.

This year, the show brought back last year’s Best Picture presenters, Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty to present the final award again – and all went smoothly. In most instances you don’t want to shine further attention on such a major gaffe, but this time it was a nice do-over.

However, had the Academy looked at sentiment in the week leading up to the broadcast, they might have thought twice about it:

Then again, sentiment and social insights are simply guides for your brand to consider as you make strategic decisions. You always have the right to go against the data – you just have to be willing to suffer the consequences if things don’t go as planned.

Only you can decide when it’s time to act or hold steady – but social media analytics can certainly keep you from being surprised at the results in either case.

As for predictions… social listening and sentiment analysis can take you far. Tracking results in real-time lets you adjust as needed if the winds suddenly change. So don’t be afraid to take calculated risks to move your brand forward. That’s how awards are won.

Ready for your close up? We’d love to show you how Instant Search and our social media analytics tools work – reach out for a demo!



Premier social media analytics platform

Expand your social platform with LexisNexis news media

Power of social analytics for your entire team

Media analytics and market intelligence platform

Enrich your media analytics with social data

Social media benchmarking
and competitive intelligence

Data streams & custom KPIs for advanced data science

AI, Image Analytics, Reporting Tools & more

Out-of-the-box integration with other data sources