Can HootSuite Predict the Winner of the Super Bowl XLVII?

By Devon Glenn 

HootSuite today announced the launch of its social media command center for the Super Bowl game on February 3.

The dashboard is the official social media management system for the New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee, done in partnership with FSC Interactive. Fans can see how the Baltimore Ravens stack up against the San Francisco 49ers in an interactive visualization of each team’s presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Previously, HootSuite followed the NFL in the semi-final AFC and NFC championship games. Through an analysis of Facebook activity and Tweets, HootSuite was able to accurately predict the winners who would go on to play in the Super Bowl, according to the company. (And this is not the first time Twitter has served as a fortune teller – an article on Mashable discusses how the Department of Defense may also use social analytics to predict cyber terrorism.)

Who will win Sunday’s game? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Ravens on Facebook:

  • 1.335 million “likes”
  • 515.2 K people “talking about this”

49ers on Facebook:

  • 1.67 million “likes”
  • 824.2K “talking about this”

The Tweet volume for each of the teams, quarterbacks, and head coaches varied between the two teams. The Ravens saw a large spike over the 49ers in the number of mentions, while the conversation is split between opposing head coaches (and real-life brothers) John and Jim Harbaugh. Between 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, Kaepernick is the most talked about of the two.

A sentiment analysis revealed that 6.67 percent of 49ers Tweets expressed “fear and uneasiness.” Most Tweeters, however, have been “excited,” “elated,” and “grateful” to be cheering them on to the final game.

More than 11 percent of Baltimore Ravens fans have expressed “sadness and grief” of some kind, but the majority have had positive things to say about the team. Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who was a suspect in a 2000 murder case that remains unsolved, will retire at the end of this season. Was this a factor?

A HootSuite representative said that negative social media sentiment may be ironic or else brought on by “haters,” or fans of the opposing team, so it’s unwise to read too much into negative tweets.

Said Ben Watson, VP of Marketing at HootSuite: “We don’t think that social media can scientifically predict the outcome of a sporting event of any kind, let alone one of the most unpredictable ones – the Super Bowl. We know players get inspired by their fans and the amazing support they receive.  Today, the overwhelming support is being doled out on the Ravens.  Let’s see what tomorrow brings for the 49ers.”

Post updated on Jan. 29 at 12:09 p.m. ET.