AFL vs NRL: Who won on social media?

Brodie Evans

Of the 574,141 posts we analysed,  prior to the finals  only 84 (less than 1%) mentioned the Bulldogs and winning the Final during the 2016 season.

I need to begin this summary of the Social Media reaction to the 2016 Australian football finals by confessing:

I know nothing about sport, and I’m the last person who should be writing anything on the topic.

The reason I mentioned this is because I needed to make this point — social media insights provides a window into conversations that you are not part of, and allows you to understand it. The drivers of conversation. The influencers. The nuances of the language used.

This is particularly useful when you’re trying to understand an audience that you’re not part of.

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Exploring the structure of the 2016 AFL conversation

I can see what topics disrupted the conversation throughout the season — and understand immediately that 2016 was the year that Women’s AFL broke into the mainstream conversation.

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Women’s AFL was the strongest topic of conversation this year

Or that the Parramatta Eels in the NRL were the most talked about team. But not for reasons they would have liked…

AFL vs NRL 3Parramatta Eels drew the most conversation of all the teams in 2016 NRL conversation…

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… because of their Salary Cap breeches.

So when something completely unexpected happens, like the Western Bulldogs winning the AFL Grand Final, even the sports-illiterate like me can go back and see if it was truly unexpected.

Nick the Stats Guy was looking to the (depressing) data.

In fact, of the 574,141 posts we analysed from the AFL Social Media conversation — prior to the finals — only 84 (<1%) mentioned the Bulldogs and winning the Final during the 2016 season. We could only find a couple of individual posts that made the correct prediction.

Adam Spencer saw it all coming.

Downright prophetic.

So, yes. It was truly unexpected. It might not be unexpected then that when comparing social share of voice between the AFL and NRL Grand Final weekend — there was a clear winner in conversation volume.

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AFL generated the most conversation on Grand Final weekend! #woofwoof

Everyone likes a good underdog story, even if they don’t follow along for the sport!