A Swing and a Miss – Social Sentiment Lessons from the PGA

Kimberly Surico |
 08/10/18 |
4 min read

Social media is nothing if not unpredictable. That’s why despite not winning the recent British Open, Tiger Woods was a huge part of the post-tournament conversation. Here’s why this interesting turn matters – and how sentiment analysis guides you through.

Assess Which Way the Wind Is Blowing

You’d expect a major contender like Tiger Woods to be part of the social discussion leading up to an event like the British Open, of course. After 10 years off, the idea of him winning a 15th major golf title, created a sense of dramatic anticipation. Especially after being cut from the U.S. Open a month before.

However, once he failed to place in the top three, you’d expect conversation to favor the winner of the tournament, wouldn’t you?

Here’s a look at the spike in conversation at the conclusion of the British Open on July 22:

The term “Woods” accounted for 45% of total posts, and nearly 2 billion impressions. And the top post was all about Tiger Woods. Yes, British Open champion Francesco Molinari was also in the mix, but given that Woods finished in a tie for sixth place, it’s interesting how prominent a part of the social chatter he was.

These results are from NetBase Pro, searching on the terms “British Open,” “#BritishOpen” and “@PGA” from the week prior to the British Open, through the day after it ended – July 12-23. The search included all countries, but was limited to English-language posts.

Here’s a look at Sentiment Drivers, specifically Emotions:

The most prominent positive term, “best,” references Woods’ “best round” and Woods giving the telecast its “best British Open overnight rating in 18 years.”

All Molinari did was take the title… Yet in the list of Popular Items, his name shares the limelight with several other more popular terms, while Woods’ makes #3 on the list, only beat by the terms “golf” and “Carnoustie.”

Even the term “win” – which, of course, does mention Molinari – makes the cut only after Woods’ name.

But this is social media – and it’s not about what’s right, or fair, or even interesting to a brand or marketer. It’s all about the audiences sharing information on social channels. They decide what matters, and its brands’ jobs to take that data and leverage it as they can.

Making Use of Trends and Influencers

So are brands and marketers powerless? At the mercy of social audiences with no recourse?

Yes and no.

When it comes to social trends, you can swim with or against the tide – but determining which is all about your audience.

For instance, if you’re a U.S.-based sports blog, your audience might be most interested in Tiger Woods’ failed attempt to collect another title. However, if your audience is based in Italy, you’d certainly want to cover Molinari’s win – especially given that it’s the first major golf title won by an Italian.

Perhaps you’d still leverage the social buzz surrounding Tiger Woods by framing your coverage as an even bigger win for Italy, considering how heavily favored Woods was going into the tournament. Or how unfortunate it is that a loss by Woods is overshadowing the unprecedented Italian victory.

This is where it’s important to apply social listening regularly, to understand what your audience is passionate about in general, so you can view the sudden uptick in chatter about Woods in context.

But there’s another way brands and marketers can use viral social topics – and that’s to identify influencers.

Certainly Tiger Woods himself should top the list. Even without securing a 15th title, and with a scandalous past, there’s a ton of social love for the athlete. He might be the perfect spokesman for your next campaign.

If not, what about those talking about him? If your goal is to promote golf balls, clubs, apparel, or your favorite local course you’d want to know who could help you do that successfully and approach them.

Look at Influencers to see who audiences are engaging with:

Don’t forget to look at Popular Media to see which types of posts are getting the most love, and on which channels. It also helps you hone in on important clues about what social audiences are responding to. Here, the top two posts tell two very different stories:

The first, on YouTube, highlights an unfortunate moment where a spectator yelled out just as Woods swung his club.

The second is an Instagram post by the wife of former Navy Seal Jonny Grant, who was brain injured in a car accident in 2017. The connection? He has always loved golf, and according to his wife, was watching the British Open:

Helping a family like this is just one way you could earn a little social love while doing some good. And it’s a great example of how social conversations often deviate from the obvious.

This is why you’ve got to use every social analytics tool in your arsenal and view all social data through the lens of sentiment analysis. The insights that matter most for your brand may not be the most popular ones – but knowing what has the majority talking could be what leads you to them.

So take in the broad view, but then hone your focus to the specifics that align with your business objectives. That’s how you get a hole in one.

Want to see a sentiment analysis demo for your brand? Reach out and we’ll give you a personalized 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