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‘Social Bowl’ predictions: smart insight or a waste of pixels?

Submitted by on February 5, 2013 – 10:21 amNo Comment

Another year, another Super Bowl, this time featuring the mighty Beyonce and a definitely-unscheduled half-hour blackout.

As usual, the run-up to the event saw a great deal of posturing on its potential outcome. Which team will emerge victorious? Which adverts will generate the most buzz? Are you team Jim or team John? Any number of social commentators attempted to assemble this information, based on pre-game social stats, historical precedents and good old fashioned hunches, with a flurry of infographics doing the rounds both before and after the game. How did these predictions play out?

The most mentioned players
Predictions: accurate

According to Marketing Cloud, Ray Lewis amassed over 188,000 mentions in the two weeks leading up to the game, followed by Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco. Was this a strong indication of in-game buzz? Yep, Lewis racked up an impressive 1.5 million mentions during the event, followed by Kaepernick. However, Jacoby Jones followed – not Flacco – but the margins are so small that it’s not a significant prediction error.

Battle of the Bro Bowl
Predictions: inaccurate

Leading up to the game, Jim Harbaugh had a slight lead over his brother John when it came to mentions (about 2,000). In the event though, John scooped the majority with 518,499 mentions, compared to Jim’s 240,554. Networked Insights created an infographic demonstrating that while Jim initially boasted more mentions, he tended to quite strongly divide opinion, perhaps accounting for his last-minute loss to his brother.

Brand Bowl victories
Predictions: inaccurate. And how.

Throughout the month of January, Mercedes-Benz, RIM and Coca-Sola stole the show. Then during January 28 – 31 Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Pepsi reigned supreme. Finally, across the weekend itself, Anheuser Bunch, GoDaddy and Calvin Klein jumped in out of nowhere, pushing Mercedes-Benz and Pepsi down to 7th and 8th places, and Coca-Cola and Volkswagen clean off the leader board. No doubt this was due to these names dominating the famed Super Bowl halftime adverts, but with such onus on these commercials it begs the question: why bother making any pre-game brand predictions in the first place?


We’ve looked at social media as an outcome predictor before, specifically back in November during the presidential election. Of course, in that instance the pace of changing opinion is slower, and social predictions are built on life-long belief systems unlikely to change. The Super Bowl, however, presents an action-packed, constantly shifting landscape full of debuts and showcasing, not to mention controversies and surprises. To be able to predict its social outcome would require genuine feats of psychic ability – and if anyone boasts such traits it’s highly unlikely they’re making sweeping generalisations online, and are more likely laughing all the way to the bank.

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