Beyond the Headlines: Quantifying the impact of social and traditional media

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”—Spanish and American philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist, George Santayana

And at Argyle, we believe those who do not learn from the past are also condemned to repeat it.

So, with a learning mindset, Argyle’s Data Intelligence team took the month of January to analyze the biggest reputational incidents of 2022 by digging into social and traditional media data. Three events stood out as the most significant of the year:

  • The “Oscars slap”
  • The Balenciaga advertising scandal
  • Ye’s fall from grace

Each generated significant blowback and captured the collective attention of millions. But what was the true reputational impact for those involved? And who had it the worst? Through our quantitative and qualitative analysis, we identified three big insights that apply to any individual or organization facing a reputational firestorm.

1. Reputation is fluid and fleeting. Understanding what matters most to your organization is critical—is it the reach of users discussing the topic online or is it the number of users talking about the topic? Regardless, social volume (i.e., the number of mentions) should be considered in conjunction with how many people are engaging in the conversation, along with their reach. For example, a glance at the numbers tells us Kanye garnered the most mentions among the three, which could indicate his reputation was hit the hardest. However, the ongoing Ye related activity was repeatedly driven by the same users throughout the year, averaging 3.8 posts each. For Will Smith, although he had fewer mentions than Kanye in 2022, the “Oscars slap” garnered 35% more unique users to the discussion who averaged 2.9 posts each. What would be more concerning for your organization—a large group of people lightly engaging for a finite period, or a small but passionate group constantly dedicated to a cause or issue?

2. Just because volume is low compared to other topics garnering attention online doesn’t mean there isn’t a cause for concern for your business. Despite Balenciaga having the lowest volume of media mentions, the brand generated a 93% increase in media coverage compared to the previous year, with criticism related to the advertising campaign accounting for more than 90% of the total coverage. In addition to losing multiple influential brand ambassadors, the brand’s parent company Kering is expected to experience devastating impacts on fourth quarter results that are to be released later this month, according to an equity research report from HSBC.

3. A single moment that captivates a global audience can be just as damaging to a reputation as intense volume sustained over a long period of time. While Will Smith saw the largest spike in volume—garnering more than 10 million Twitter and news mentions in the 48 hours following the Oscar slap—Kanye West registered higher overall total of mentions in 2022, as mentioned above. Despite the contrast in the volume trends, the sentiment in response to these two individuals is similar, with negative sentiment accounting for 35% of the conversation relating to Kanye and 41% for Will Smith. It’s notable that the Ye related tweets with the most engagements are a mix of both negative, positive, and neutral and represents a variety of different themes including his romantic relationships and his apparent friendship with Elon Musk. For Will Smith, tweets with the most engagement appear to be all negative and in relation to the Oscars incident.

Argyle’s experts in social and data intelligence specialize in providing these insights for companies and their executives. Whether the issue is a viral moment that captures the world’s attention, or an equally important matter specific to your stakeholders or community—we ensure communication strategies are evidence-based, measurable and grounded in data.

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