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The FA Cup - How the game played out on social

by Jenna Rogers,  25-May-2016 05:00:00

To anyone who isn’t a football fan, the 2016 FA Cup Final was held at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, 21st May with 11-time winners Manchester United taking on Crystal Palace in a repeat of the 1990 final. The game attracted close to 90,000 fans who packed into the famous old venue with millions more watching at home and in bars all over the world. For us it was a great opportunity to see how the afternoon played out across the social networks. 

As one of the most talked about sporting events of the year, the topics of discussion were wide and varied. Our focus was on which terms trended socially and to get an idea of the amount of content that was shared throughout the day and where the peaks of engagement were.

We used our Social TV platform STORY to gather content related to the game by using hashtags such as #facup #facupfinal #mufc #cpfc , #wembley, #weareunited and #crystalpalace on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We also set up location-based searches to gather content that was published within a 1km radius of Wembley stadium.


The game was certainly a builder, slow to start but some interesting refereeing decisions made by Mark Clattenberg definitely polarised the social audience decisions as did key player injuries.

Then, during the second half, Crystal Palace were first to score much to the delight of manager Alan Pardew, with his now-famous dance.


We delved a little deeper to see what impact this funny moment had on social media. To do this we used STORY’s Wordcloud feature which lets us see what topics are trending by monitoring the popularity of certain terms, in this case #pardew and #pardew dance.


Fans shared photos and videos of the dance which many social users referred to as the ‘dad dance’.

Then the inevitable happened, the memes began. The terms ‘mysterious’ and ‘xm20x’ you see in the wordcloud above refer to this great clip of Alan dancing with Peter Andre to ‘Mysterious Girl’, created by Vine user xm20x.


Anyway, back to the game…

Pardew’s joy was short-lived as just a few minutes later United levelled the score before the game went into 30 mins of extra time.

STORY’s Analytics shows that there were peaks in engagement on Twitter around key moments during the game.
(Note the graphs show CET time which is one hour ahead of GMT).


It’s interesting to note that both teams had similar peaks of activity during the game but then Crystal Palace (#cpfc) discussion dies off while Manchester United (#mufc) chatter reaches an all-time high after the game as fans around the world celebrate the win.


We can also see that Twitter was the platform of choice with more content being posted using the major hashtags on Twitter compared to Facebook and Instagram. However, when we look at the geo-located content posted at Wembley stadium, there are far more Instagram posts being made compared to Twitter posts. This is probably because the geolocation tag is more commonly used on Instagram. Fans were obviously eager to share photos and videos they took at the game.


The match ran from 17:35 GMT until 20:08 (including extra time) when Manchester United won the trophy. In the graph below we have grouped several social sources into one category. (Eg ‘Wembley’ contains #wembley posts from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram). We can see what topics peaked at certain times on social media between 17:00-21:00.


‘FA Cup Final’ peaks at 17:32 right before kick-off and the Manchester United related terms (#mufc and #weareunited) peak at 20:08, when the whistle blows and they’re declared the winners with a final score of 2-1.

The total amount of social posts for our chosen terms reached over half a million between 17:00 – 21:00 GMT, showing just how engaged viewers were on social media during the game.


If you’d like to find out more about how to use social content for digital, programming or advertising to increase viewer engagement, get in touch with us.


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