This past weekend, Edelman Digital’s Social Intelligence Command Center, in partnership with MATTER and Hootsuite*, launched Social Matters, a series of data visualizations highlighting social conversations around specific events- specifically, the 2012 Ryder Cup in Medinah, IL. We analyzed the drivers of the social conversation around this international event and sought to understand the emerging trends.

The results were fascinating. Driven by the sometimes tense and other times joyous events of the weekend, from Team USA’s initial commanding lead to Team Europe’s breathtaking comeback and win, we found that the social conversation clearly reflected and complemented the field of play. Here’s the breakdown, day by day:

Day One

Team USA’s strong initial lead on the field of play extended to the social sphere as well. More than double the amount of #RyderCup tweets originated from the U.S. than did from Europe (57,249 vs 28,024). That’s not to discount Team Europe’s social presence, however- Team Europe’s official Twitter handle, @RyderCupTeamEUR, effectively matched the number of tweets posted by Team USA’s handle, @RyderCupTeamUSA with 2,438 vs 2,497 tweets. In addition, support of Teams USA and Europe from professional non-golf athletes and popular figures drove large amounts of conversation, especially in Europe. Danish professional tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, Rory McIlroy’s girlfriend, drove a leading 425 retweets cheering on Team Europe, followed by @spursofficial and @ianjamespoulter, all cheering for Europe.

Day Two

On day two, Team USA’s commanding lead grew, both on the course and in the digital space. Appearances by President George W. Bush and Michael Jordan drew large amounts of conversation, particularly in the United States, where tweets using the #RyderCup hashtag outnumbered usage of the same hashtag in Europe by more than double.

We see a greater emergence of the “Second Screen”- usage of mobile devices like tablets and phones to communicate via social about what viewers were seeing in person and live on television. We’re seeing greater integration between “IRL” (In Real Life) events and social interaction with both “Lean Forward” devices like smartphones and “Lean Back” devices like tablets used while watching television.

Day Three

Day three’s play brought us the stunning comeback of Team Europe to their ultimate victory over Team USA by a single point. Social conversation on the third day revolved around the events on the course, with large spikes in conversation brought on by Rory McIlroy’s late arrival and Marin Kaymer’s epic clinch of the Team Europe win over Team USA. People, and the Internet especially, love a great comeback story and Team Europe did not disappoint. The #GoEurope hashtag reemerged as a major driver of Twitter conversation, and overall conversation exploded, taking #RyderCup tweets originating from both teams’ respective homes into the several hundreds of thousands. In addition, European golfers’ Twitter handles drove massive amounts of conversation, with Ian Poulter alone earning over 70,000 mentions on Sunday.

Europe’s triumphant win translated directly to the conversation in the social space, with conversation hugely increasing on both sides of the pond and European golfers earning huge impressions through both their play and their happy interactions with European fans. Success in real events manifested largely in digital.

Summary

We’ve compiled all of these data and learnings into a document called “Social Matters,” embedded here for your convenience. The 2012 Ryder Cup has been a fantastic example of the growing interdependency of digital and living events–never exemplified better than with the correlation of conversation to real play and Team Europe’s use of the #GoEurope hashtag in a skywriting stunt put together by passionate fans.

Hootsuite is an Edelman client.

Colorful golf tees image courtesy of BigStock.

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