Savvy Sports Leagues Build Vast Social Media Equity Throughout Rio Olympic Games

Russell Glenister, SnapRapid founder & CEO

LONDON: 24th January, 2017 – The ability of major sports leagues and teams to capture social media mindshare even when the world’s attention might be expected to be elsewhere is underscored by data from sports and entertainment digital analytics company SnapRapid which shows that the NBA, MLB, UFC, CFL and AFL all successfully piggybacked off ‘Olympic’ mentions on Twitter and maintained significant impact throughout the 2016 Rio Games.

Analysis of millions of social media posts specifically related to Olympics mentions was carried out using SnapRapid’s proprietary analytical tools before, during and after the Games. The data shows the “NBA” in second place behind only “Rio” itself in an index of 100 brands and entities dominating social media conversation. Post Games the NBA assumed top position ahead of Rio.

In addition to the prominence of sports leagues, whose three or four letter acronyms seem tailor-made for social media, individual clubs from around the world feature extensively in the Top 30 of the index with the New York Yankees (10, 15 and 14) included in the pre, post and games-time indexes respectively, along with other MLB teams including the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies.

National Football League teams the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks and leading soccer teams including Juventus and Liverpool FC (which shares ownership with the Boston Red Sox) also featured across the Games period.
While sports leagues and clubs dominate the Index, broadcaster ESPN featured in the top 10 in all three analysis categories along with sportswear brands Nike and Adidas and search and tech giant Google.

The research was carried out using SnapRapid’s Athlete Index and Cultural Key tools which employ Natural Language Processing and advanced data science networking technologies to analyse text in all major languages – including standard Chinese – in millions of social media posts to establish ‘social equity’ – relevance, influence, and connectivity across social media.

Using these technologies and only looking at conversations with specific Olympics mentions SnapRapid identified which brands, personalities and other entities were being discussed and mapped the relationships between individuals, topics and issues and the strength of links between brands, individuals and concepts.

The tools were also used to analyse the impact of athletes and individuals across the Games period and revealed that a non-Olympic sportsman, Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, topped the list, in relation to direct association with the concept “teamwork”, which was largely due to his intervention in support of India’s Olympic athletes in the face of harsh domestic media criticism.

US swimmer Connor Dwyer (4x200m freestyle gold medalist), Jamaican sprinter Nickel Ashmeade (4x100m relay gold medalist) and GB hockey goalkeeper Maddie Hinch (penalty shootout hero and gold medalist) – highest placed Female – also featured strongly along with gymnast Simone Biles and controversial swimmer Ryan Lochte. Each delivered a stronger social media link to “teamwork” than Olympic champion and legend Usain Bolt who was listed in 19th place.

Russell Glenister, founder and CEO of SnapRapid believes the ability to measure social equity using SnapRapid’s Athlete Index and Cultural Key highlights the quality work being done by media savvy, leagues and clubs to develop social strategies that deliver significant cut-through in all circumstances and leverage a range of events and opportunities which may not be directly linked to their core operations or concerns.

“The unique data we generate goes beyond simply counting numbers of posts, followers and likes to provide a more sophisticated and far more valuable basis for decision making among sports bodies and their commercial partners.
“It clearly demonstrates the need to look beyond basic mentions and to use data to challenge automatic assumptions. No one would have thought of India’s cricket captain as a powerful cheerleader for the country’s Olympic athletes but the data shows a clear key link.

“The ability to establish which bodies, brands and athletes have significant social equity and identify the strength of links between them and particular subjects, issues and causes opens the door to new and important communications and commercial opportunities that have the potential to re-define brand marketing through sports and entertainment.

“Our research clearly shows that those sports bodies which have invested to develop powerful social media strategies to create continuous engagement with their audiences, remain top of mind and relevant even against the hubbub created by other major events.

“Effective on-going social strategy, naturally links sporting bodies with major sporting events and as such doesn’t come across as gate-crashing someone else’s party. That’s the real power of social equity which our data and analysis is designed to unlock.”


SnapRapid Athlete Index tracks over 15,000 athletes and conversations around them, which are analysed for links to brands, competitions and concepts.

SnapRapid Cultural Key analyses brand and rights holder associations through social media conversations for cultural associations.

athletesolympic gamessocial mediasports leagues

Russell Glenister • 25th January 2017

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