Top photo: Courtsey of South Carolina Athletics
Social media posts about the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team’s national championship have been seen more than 500 million times, according to a new analysis by the university’s Social Media Insights Lab.
“The women’s championship game was seen by almost 5 million TV viewers, which is significant, but that number seems rather small compared to more than 500 million times people saw comments about the Gamecocks’ victory in their social media feeds,” says Randy Covington, who oversees the lab. “This was a big win not only for the women’ basketball team but for the entire university as well.”
The lab used powerful software to better understand social media conversations since the Gamecocks defeated the University of Connecticut Huskies to claim the championship. Between April 1 and 6, the lab found more than 81,000 individual posts, primarily on Twitter. This represents a significant increase in social media interest since the Gamecocks won the national championship in 2017.
The post this year that had the greatest impact came from former President Barack Obama, who said it’s great to see the team’s hard work pay off. President Obama’s tweet had more than 135 million impressions.
Other influential comments came from President Joe Biden, musician and alumnus Darius Rucker and several former and current professional athletes.
Breaking It Down
- The peak in mentions occurred when the Gamecocks defeated UConn for the national championship title.
- All of the emojis seen below were used in celebratory posts about winning the tournament and the terms in the word cloud show the excitement that surrounded the game and the UofSC women's team.
- The UofSC women's basketball official Twitter was the most mentioned tweeter with tweets totaling to 146,459,592 impressions.
- More than two-thirds of the mentions were positive!
- The neutral sentiment came from news sources posting updates throughout the tournament and championship game.
- There were fewer than 40 negative mentions. These came from UConn fans disappointed in their team's defeat.
Top 10 Twitter Mentions
1. @BarackObama: 44th president of the United States.
2. @CNN: Official Twitter for CNN.
3. @espn: Official Twitter for ESPN.
4. @BleacherReport: A website where sports fans around the world can collaborate on content.
5. @washingtonpost: Official Twitter for The Washington Post. 6.@Forbes: Official Twitter for Forbes.
7. @AP: Official Twitter for the Associated Press.
8. @ComplexSports: Official Twitter for Complex Sports.
9. @MagicJohnson: Retired professional basketball player.
10. @NBCNews: Official Twitter for NBC News.
Sports World Takes Note
The Gamecock championship was hailed by professional athletes like former NBA star Magic Johnson, Sue Bird of the WNBA and J.J. Watt of the NFL.
Coach and Player Mentions
Coach Dawn Staley and her players are widely followed on Twitter and they joined the online celebration.
Dawn Staley Mentions
- Dawn Staley was the most-mentioned person affiliated with the women's basketball team. Her name was used more than 17k times. Staley was referred to as a legend and icon repeatedly online.
- She was acknowledged for making the UofSC women's basketball the exceptional program it is today.
- Many mentions noted she is the first Black coach to win multiple national championships.
Aliyah Boston Mentions
- Aliyah Boston won Player of the Year and was a center of attention on social media. Her name was present in more than 11k mentions.
- Comparison photos were seen repeatedly showing Boston crying after UofSC's 2021 Final Four loss and her "happy tears" after the 2022 championship.
- A'ja Wilson was asked in an interview if Boston deserved a statue. She responded saying "I mean, there's a lot of space around my statue."
Destanni Henderson Mentions
- Destanni Henderson's name was mentioned more than 3.5k times. She was referred to as "another MVP" by several individuals.
- The hashtag #HennythingsPossible was used by Sue Bird which was then retweeted by Megan Rapinoe, DK Metcalf and Breanna Stewart.
- Henderson was referred to as the best player in the championship game by multiple users. Her 26 points "stole the show", according to the Boston Globe.
Most of the comments analyzed came from Twitter. The second largest segment comes from mentions in the news.
Championship Conversation Comparison
The Insights Lab compared social media conversations this year to conversations surrounding the Gamecocks’ first national championship. The lab found more than 23,000 posts about the team in 2017. This year, there were more than three times that many.
“There clearly is more interest this year in women’s basketball,” said Insights Lab Manager Sarah Johnson. “Another major factor is the social media significance of Dawn Staley, who was mentioned more than 17,000 times this year compared to about 3,500 times five years ago.”
About the Social Media Insights Lab
The lab is part of the College of Information and Communications. It is used for teaching,
academic research and public reports intended to help people better understand issues
of the day.
View a full list of reports and follow the lab on Twitter at @UofSCInsights.