Data Science

Euro 2016 according to Twitter; Sentiment Analysis of 27M tweets

Introduction

The dust has truly settled on what was one of the biggest sporting occasions of the year, the 2016 European Championships. The worldwide interest in the Euro 2016 soccer tournament was particularly evident across social media platforms with Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram seeing record numbers in tournament-related interactions over the 4 week period.

As you may have seen before, here at AYLIEN we like to monitor and gather social media and news content around particular events in search of interesting insights using our Text Mining capabilities through our APIs.

Previous posts: Super Bowl 50 according to Twitter and Text Analytics meets 2014 World Cup.

So what did we do this time?

We collected a total of 27 million tweets over the course of the tournament with the purpose of mining these tweets to look for interesting correlations and insights. Using the Twitter Search API, we built searches around official hashtags and handles for both the tournament itself and the teams involved. Following some simple preprocessing of the data, such as removing retweets and tweets containing links to narrow our focus and eliminate some noise, we moved our data to a big MySQL database which made it a lot easier to work with.

The first piece of analysis we did was to run all the tweets through our Language Detection endpoint to split them up by language. You could also use the language predictions provided by Twitter to save some time. The second piece of analysis we did was to analyze the sentiment of all of the English tweets, which amounted to about 17 million in total. The final task involved extracting mentions of Entities in these tweets, paying particular attention to mentions of the countries playing at the tournament.

We decided to dive deeper into 4 areas of interest:

  • Volume of tweets and language;
  • Teams of particular interest (Portugal, France, Iceland and England);
  • The Final game (Portugal v France);
  • And of course, Cristiano Ronaldo (yes, he gets his own section!)

 

Tools used:

Twitter Search API;

AYLIEN Text Analysis API;

AYLIEN News API;

Tableau;

 

Volume of tweets

As was to be expected, the majority of social chatter around the tournament was focused in Europe. Other areas of note included The US and Australia but perhaps most surprising was the high concentration of tweets from soccer fans in Indonesia. This was also reflected in the tweets-by-language analysis we ran, which we’ll discuss later.

Not surprisingly, the most mentioned team was the host nation and tournament runners-up, France. In second place was the champions, Portugal, and 3rd place was England who were up there for all the wrong reasons, which we’ll dive into a little bit later in the post.

While the vast majority of tweets, regardless of their geographic origin, were in English, let’s take a look at the language breakdown.

 

Tweets by language

Tweets in English accounted for over 62% of all tweets collected. 15% of tweets were written in French and about 11% were made in Spanish. Other languages to feature included Portuguese, German and Italian but the biggest surprise was the volume of tweets written in Indonesian which was also highlighted in our Geographic analysis.

Looking at the volume of tweets by language highlights some interesting insights around public interest and following throughout the tournament, revealing a clear connection between fan following and interest in the tournament as a whole.

For tweets written in French and Portuguese you can get a clear understanding of how far a team progressed in the tournament by looking at the volume of tweets written in their native language throughout the tournament. The spikes in the visualizations represent each game and the trend line shows the evident rise or fall in following.

The diminishing voice of the fan following is most evident through a clear indication of how fan following decreased throughout the tournament leading up to their departure.

 

Team Focus

As we mentioned, we decided to pick 4 teams to focus our analysis on – Portugal, France, Iceland and England. We chose teams that were either linked to major events or talking points in the tournament or had performed particularly well.

Each graph in the story below shows the volume of tweets mentioning that team, the tweet polarity (whether it’s positive or negative) and also the rolling average polarity throughout the tournament.

We’ve chosen interesting talking points for each team and highlighted when they occurred and their effect on fan reaction in each graph.

Tip: Click the linked talking points for news stories gathered with our News API.

England:

England were a terrible disappointment at the Euro 2016 tournament. The star-studded team of the Premier Leagues top players failed to impress and were knocked out of the tournament by a much weaker team (on paper) from Iceland. Their tournament was also heavily overshadowed by the behavior of their fans and the departure of their manager Hodgson only highlighted the scale of the issues the English FA had to deal with.

Talking points:

 

Iceland:

A country with a population of 323,000 and about 100 professional footballers provided us with the feel good story of the tournament. Iceland, who were really only expected to show up, did a whole lot more by coming second in their group, drawing with the eventual tournament winners and toppling one of the tournament favourites in the quarter finals.

Talking points:

 

France:

The tournament favorites France easily progressed to the knockout stages where they dealt with a far less experienced Icelandic side and impressively put 2 past the current world champions, Germany. The team which had the tournament’s top scorer was truly on form and looked like they had the tournament in the bag.

 

Portugal:

Although they eventually reigned supreme, Portugal had an all but impressive tournament. Having failed to win 6 of their 7 games in the regulation 90 minutes, they relied on snatching wins during extra time and by holding their nerve in the lottery of penalty shootouts. They even had a couple of close-calls with two far weaker teams in Iceland and Austria. The form of their main man, Cristiano Ronaldo, was at the heart of both their successes and failings throughout the tournament as the Portuguese talisman, carrying an injury throughout, could only show us glimpses of his best.

Talking points:

 

The Final

The final of Euro 2016 attracted as many as 300 Million viewers across the world. What was expected to be a high tempo showdown between a goal hungry, in-form French team and a well-drilled Portuguese team who hadn’t lost a game in the tournament turned out to be whole lot less.

Portugal’s Ronaldo and France’s Griezmann were facing off for the title of Euro 2016 top goalscorer but it was for other reasons that Ronaldo took the limelight and some would argue the sting out of the game as a whole.

Talking points:

  • Ronaldo is fouled by Payet in the 12th minute
  • Ronaldo is forced to leave the field injured after 26 minutes
  • France miss a number of close chances
  • The game enters extra time and is looking like it will go to penalties
  • Eder scores and France look to be defeated

Ronaldo

Cristiano dominated social chatter and news throughout the tournament. Usually it’s his goal tally alone which puts him in the spotlight but during Euro 2016 he was the talk of the tournament for a variety of other reasons, and we’re not even referring to the moth incident!

 

Talking points:


  • Ronaldo shows his true colors and passion for the team on the sidelines
  • Like a true goal scorer, Ronaldo never misses an opportunity…to take his top off


Conclusion

Simple case studies like this highlight the wealth of information hidden in social chatter. Brands and organizations who care about the voice of their customer have no choice in today’s world but to try and leverage social media conversations in order to stay on top of what it is their customers like or dislike about them and their competitors. If you’d like to hear more about using AYLIEN for social listening drop us a line at hello@aylien.com, we’d love to hear from you.

 




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Author


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Mike Waldron

Head of Marketing & Sales @ AYLIEN A legal convert with a masters degree from Smurfit Business School, Mike runs our Sales and Marketing at AYLIEN. Mike gathered his Sales and Marketing experience with technology companies in Sydney and Dublin before getting the startup itch and joining the team at AYLIEN. Twitter: @MikeWallly