It’s become the source of breaking transfer news, while players can’t help getting themselves into trouble on it but social media has added an extra dimension to how we watch football. Paul Moriarty, Head of Insight at News Access Media Intelligence, Ireland’s media intelligence agency, tells the YBIG Football Show how Twitter reacted to Martin O’Neill’s first two games, and discusses the rise of the popular supporters’ hashtag #COYBIG.
Speaking to host Dave O’Grady, Moriarty reveals the reaction on social media to the arrival of O’Neill and Roy Keane to the Ireland set-up.
“It’s certainly been a very interesting couple of matches” says Paul regarding the amount of buzz that can be created, particularly on Twitter.
“The #COYBIG hashtag seems to be the one to dominate. For example, during the Ireland-Poland match we tracked from 4pm to midnight, including the build-up, the match itself, and post match analysis, 1844 tweets, retweets and replies for #COYBIG, which is quite a large amount.”
“That being said, on the Ireland vs Latvia game, the first game under ONeill and Roy Keane, we tracked 4306 for the same period. You can just see the difference depending on how much buzz there is around a particular game.”
The perception might be that the Irish away games would generate more activity given that not as many supporters would actually be at the match itself but that’s not necessarily the case.
“It comes down to the notion of social chatter or social buzz because really that first game with Roy Keane and O’Neill generated so much interest.”
“On the game itself, they both generated around 1000 tweets, so Martin O’Neill generated around 950 tweets. In terms of Keane, just mentions of his name, there were 1381 tweets over that period.”
“While O’Neill is definitely the boss; on that opening game Roy Keane got people talking, unsurprisingly some people would say.
Of course Twitter tends to explode when anything controversial happens be it a row, yellow cards, red cards or regarding transfers.
“We track right across the course of the game. The one thing that really generates buzz is when a goal is scored. There is no getting away from it.”
“The actual peak of the Ireland vs Poland game was at the very beginning. There was a huge peak at 7:42pm as Amhrán na bhFiann was played. Some people were happy that it wasn’t the model Nadia Forde doing the singing. The biggest peak came three minutes later just when the game kicked off.”
It’s not only in Ireland either that the the activity is generated when the Boys in Green are in action.
“Most certainly. We can also track the geography of tweets. There were almost 2500 in Ireland. In USA there were around 600 tweeting. Australia was well represented. Interestingly India, and even Kazakshtan had people commenting with the #COYBIG hashtag. It just shows it goes right across the world and people are involved in the big conversation. That’s what Twitter is all about and that’s certainly what monitoring and evaluating social media is about.”
We also now see broadcasters and media outlets using hashtags in an effort to get people interacting.
“The interesting thing is nobody has full control over it. Often what you’ll find is a broadcaster will say a particular hashtag but everyone will go with another one so they can try and influence it but actually the way that this form of media works is kind of turning the tables a little bit. The majority get to have control over the hashtags and it’s a really interesting area.”
“One of the other leading hashtags was #PolIrl with up to 656 tweets, and also #LiveFAI, the FAI’s own hashtag had a few hundred. They are making an effort to get involved in the social media strand.”
“It’s the flexibility of tweeting particularly. There are also lots of conversations on Facebook and different websites but Twitter has got its stronghold for events like football, rugby and Gaelic games.
The Twittersphere allows users to create a conversation by including handles of various personalities, players, and clubs, and it has the ability to take tweeters off in completely different directions. Companies and corporations are well aware of this and it’s becoming more and more important to them.
Last year Póg Mo Goal, using the #blogsunited hashtag, chaired a conversation for the blogging community and followers in the aftermath of an Ireland away match. The hashtag was soon tending in Ireland and the interesting thing was it wasn’t mainstream media that was driving it.
Twitter can balloon around big events. Take for example the recent Portugal- Sweden play-off and the showdown between Zlatan and Ronaldo.
“It can respond within seconds. That’s what makes it exciting. You just can’t tell over the course of a match, anything can happen. I know it’s a little bit of a cliché but the great thing is, rather than in the past you’d have a watercooler moment the next day in the office, these days with second screening with your iPad smart phone etc., it has become part and parcel of the experience of the match. It happens instantly. The Portugal Sweden action resulted in such a flurry of activity.”
Fans also use social media for pre-match discussion. Whereas in the past Giovanni Trapattoni would name his team selection in advance, now Martin O’Neill announces his starting eleven before kick-off, something Irish Twitter users haven’t really had before and before the games almost everyone has a team sheet on their social feed.
“Again it’s this release of information. #COYBIG has now become part and parcel of Irish football but also for rugby as well. It’s something that is becoming bigger than the hashtag almost and is becoming used in general conversation. Instead of saying “Come on you boys in green”, people will say “COYBIG.”
“It’s been a huge success and kudos to the people that first starting using it because it really has gotten traction and has really started to grow.”