Super Bowl 50 is definitely the hottest topic right now in the States. Instead of looking at data form the States, I dedicate this blog digging into big data from Weibo, which is Chinese twitter, to see what NFL did on Chinese social media to promote the event and how did it work.
Compare to the United States, China is never the main battlefield of Super Bowl. However, like what many foreign medias are doing now, NFL is also aware of the huge potential of Chinese market and trying to open the it.
Like other sport-related accounts, @NFLChina is not mainstream account in Weibo. NFL built its official microblog on Aug 18th 2010 named @NFLChina. Its first microblog describing the firework show before Super Bowl received only 2 repost and 6 comments. Till now, its influence has not been improved too much. The most reposted microblog in its recent media campaign for Super Bowl 50 only received about 1000 repost and 100 comments. Through 5 years running and 15,000 posts, this official microblog has accumulated about 430 thousand followers. This set of data is not a good one comparing to the most influential sports account, football club Barcelona’s official account, who has 790 thousand followers. However, compare to the most influential microblog in the whole Weibo world, Yaochen, a Chinese movie star who has 79 million, all sport-related accounts are not very powerful in Weibo.
For the media campaign for Super Bowl 50, @NFLChina posted 614 microblogs tagged #superbowl50 with an average amount of reposting of 30. Most of microblogs that were reposted over 50 times are about halftime show celebrities, videos of football players talking to Chinese audience, great Super Bowl advertisements, channels to watch Super Bowl live, giveaway activities and history and explanation of football. This phenomenon indicated that Chinese audience group is not very familiar with football nor Super Bowl. Basic explanation about football and Super Bowl are needed to introduce this brand new sport to China market. In addition, compare to football, Chinese audience are more familiar with American pop culture icons, which can be used as a connecting point for @NFLChina to promote Super Bowl. Besides, posts customized for Chinese audience also received a lot of attentions. However, it remains unclear whether giveaway activities properly reflect efforts made on Super Bowl 50 media campaign since further data is needed to clarify whether there are robot accounts aiming at presents of giveaway and reposting microblogs automatically.
The following graph shows the amount of mentioning of the word #Super Bowl 50#. The peak 1 and 4 came because NFL announced Rihanna, Beyoncé will be performing on Super Bowl 50. The rest peaks were raised by the information that tailors of Pikachu’s and Matt Damon’s new work will be released on Super Bowl 50. It is interesting that Matt Damon is not usually a hot topic in Chinese media. This peak is certainly empowered by the movie The Martian. The graph also showed that the hotness of the topic rapidly declined after Feb 2nd, which is mainly because that another more important event came, which is lunar new year. Those peaks and downs show that, under the circumstance that Chinese audience is not very interested in football and Super Bowl itself, it might be a good idea to mix Super Bowl with American pop culture and cultural phenomenon in Chinese market.
When we take @NFLChina’s most reposted microblog as an example, the diffusion map of this microblog is described below. 3 big circle other than @NFLChina are all Chinese sport-related media and entertainment-related media, which shows that cooperating with influential local media and using their existed audience and channels are effective practice.
(Repost map, each circle represents a account, the size of the circle represents reposts originated from this account.)
Weibo also provides hotness analysis by area. The graph attached below illustrated that Weibo users in Beijing and Shanghai talked the most about Super Bowl, which suggests that online and offline activities customized for those cities might receive better results than another area.
Comparing to a lot of great sport accounts, @NFLChina is not taking full advantage of this influential platform — Weibo. In conclusion, Chinese audience is more interested in side line products of this event, such as celebrities and cultural implications, than football itself. Thus, mixing Super Bowl with pop culture is a great way to widen the market. In addition, localization is another strategy that @NFLChina must be thinking of. In doing localization, collaborating with local media, introducing football game, and keeping up with Chinese public agenda are tactics that @NFLChina might want to try.