Measuring the Success of Charitable Celebrities on Social

As humans we have never consumed so much information.

In a media-saturated world, celebrities must battle to stay relevant and their public image is important.

Depending on the type of image you want to create, a celebrity’s next stunt might involve dusting off the old sex tape or, for something slightly different, doing something nice for other humans.

The Brandwatch React team decided to focus on the latter, measuring the positive impact of celebrity good deeds using social data.

Case in point: Tom Hardy

Hollywood star Tom Hardy is no stranger to an act of kindness, and his most recent might be the most adorable thing you’ve ever heard of.

The BBC’s channel CBeebies might be aimed at children, but there was no age limitation on the Mother’s Day bedtime story read by Tom Hardy on Sunday night.  

Hot off the set of filming Peaky Blinders in Liverpool last week, dreamy Tom made a third appearance on the bedtime story slot (having previously graced CBeebies fans’ screens on New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day) to celebrate Mother’s Day in the UK.

Let’s just say that mothers of Britain were over the moon.

Twitter went into overdrive as the Hollywood A-lister read “There’s a bear on my chair” to boys and girls everywhere. It soon became apparent that this wasn’t just for the kids.

Tom Hardy isn’t just loved for his dulcet tones and delightful good looks, although that is enough to make anyone fall in love with him [Editor’s note – I think Frankie likes Tom].

He’s a huge fan of dogs, with his rescue dog Woodstock usually seen with him on the CBeebies sofa. He’s a long-time supporter of rescuing dogs and took time out his busy schedule last September to volunteer at Battersea Dogs Home, helping rehome a number of dogs. The response was astounding, and all of the dogs featured found a safe new home.

This isn’t the first time Tom has helped out a charity. Earlier this year he supported hildren’s charity by answering calls. As well as raising £8.2m on the day, the charity also benefitted from a personal donation from Tom himself of £7,000.

How can we measure the success of some of the non-cash related good deeds? Social data, of course.

Tom’s Sunday CBeebies appearance received a huge reaction from women on Twitter with 72% of the authors categorized as female on Sunday. The overwhelming majority of that day’s mentions were positive.

It also earned him a well-deserved spike in mentions that day.


Nice work, Tom.

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Ed Sheeran’s red nose

Lots of celebrities are stripping down their egos and doing more for charity. 

As recently as Friday we watched Ed Sheeran in a scene filmed by the enormous UK-based charity Comic Relief, offering to help Liberian children who’d suffered a terrible ordeal.

Sheeran battled with his own conscience of leaving them, and decided he couldn’t. He said, “It doesn’t matter how much it is, we’ll just get them in. We can’t leave without sorting these kids out, these kids are just five in a million.”

The influence of someone like Ed Sheeran can do wonders for a charitable organization, and Red Nose Day (a popular day of action organized by Comic Relief) was among the top mentioned words surrounding the pop icon last week – a huge achievement for the charity given how much conversation he generates.


For the likes of Ed Sheeran and Tom Hardy, sometimes random acts of kindness like this really support their positive image, as well as lend weight and exposure to charities.

Measuring the impact of influential figures on campaigns is just one way that Brandwatch Analytics can be used to understand the conversation surrounding good causes.

How Comic Relief used Brandwatch to uncover more insights

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Brexit Data: Post-Truth Politics and the EU Referendum

Welcome to the third and final edition of our Brandwatch React Brexit data analysis series.

We’ve previously looked at what people outside of the UK are saying about Brexit, but this time the Brandwatch React team wanted to take a look at the role of “post-truth” politics and “fake news” in the conversation.

Earlier in the year, in the wake of the Oxford English Dictionary making “post-truth” word of the year, we discussed living in a post-truth era and whether fake news made Donald Trump President.


Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts” comments, as well as Trump’s fondness for the term “fake news”, have become enormous issues for debate online and are significant parts of the post-truth atmosphere in which we supposedly live.

For context, the OED defines post-truth as:

Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

These circumstances weren’t just present in the US Elections.

Lies, damned lies and the EU Referendum.

The EU Referendum campaigns were littered with wild claims about the state of the United Kingdom if it were to stay or leave.

Dubious claims surrounding immigration, the economy, and the NHS appealed to fears surrounding overcrowding, financial instability and healthcare provisions. Figures were inflated, the campaigns’ arguments and numbers clashed, and hundreds talked about being confused and undecided online.

Post-truth, alternative facts, and fake news may now be key parts of our vernacular, but can we measure the effects?

According to YouGov, the top three remembered events in the lead up to the EU Referendum were components of key arguments belonging to Brexiteers.

  1. The UK sends £350m per week to the EU
  2. Net migration to the UK had hit 333,000
  3. Turkey and other candidate countries joining the EU

These controversial topics were hugely salient in the press as well as in personal debates that took place.

We thought we’d focus on two points of contention that plagued the EU Referendum debates – the claims that Turkey could join the EU and that leaving the EU would free up £350m for the NHS.

Taking a look at mentions surrounding these points revealed the extreme divisions in what was believed.

Turkey to join the EU

That Turkey (and various other countries) could be joining the EU, and that citizens of those countries would therefore be allowed free movement into the UK, was a hotly debated topic, despite there not being concrete evidence to prove that it would or wouldn’t happen.

While some believed they could be joining, others were convinced that they wouldn’t be. This topic cloud, generated using Brandwatch Analytics, shows the top mentioned terms surrounding Turkey within the EU Referendum conversation.


The fact that authoritative figures for both the leave and remain campaigns were pointing in different directions only confused things further.

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£350m for the NHS

Meanwhile, key figures in the leave campaign famously drove around in a bus that claimed we send £350m to the EU each week, and that this could be redirected towards the NHS instead.

As the Independent reported, this claim was quickly abandoned after the result came in.


The figure wasn’t quite what it seemed either (the below video explains why).

We found thousands of people quoting the £350million figure, and its use was mixed.

Many used it to support their arguments or in retweeting Vote Leave. Around 25% of the 3k £350m tweets we tracked between 1st April and 22 June 2016 (within a 10% sample of Brexit-related mentions) were simply retweeting the Vote Leave campaign, who used the figure prolifically in their online communications.


Meanwhile, many were angry that the figure was misleading people, with Nicola Sturgeon describing Boris Johnson of telling a £350m “whopper”. While the figure was disputed fairly early before the referendum, the leave campaign were still using it days before the referendum.

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Monitoring falsehood

Tracking lies across the internet presents its challenges, and they’re similar to those that social networks currently trying to tackle fake news are currently grappling with. Tracking false information back to its roots isn’t necessarily difficult, but identifying it before it is picked up by lots of people is no easy task.

Technology might be smart but there’s no easy “spell check” for what’s true and what isn’t. And if there was, it could present all kinds of ethical problems – think the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, or how annoying all those red lines would be if you were writing satire or fiction.

The boundaries of our post-truth world are yet to be established, but the trend of falsehood spreading like wildfire, particularly when our realities are shaped so prominently by filter bubbles and algorithms, doesn’t appear to be over yet.

Post-Article 50 trigger

Article 50 will be triggered next week, sparking the beginning of Brexit negotiations. How many lies will be told in the process and how will social media react? We’ll keep an eye on the data.

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Following Suit: What Do Those Outside of the UK Think Of Brexit?

Welcome to the second in our series of data explorations of the Brexit conversation.

Earlier in the week we examined what young people were saying about Brexit, but this time the Brandwatch React team is tackling the social data surrounding what people are saying about Brexit who are outside of the UK.

Why measure what people outside of the UK are saying?

/>The consequences of the United Kingdom leaving the EU stretch well beyond the English channel, and hearing from voices outside of the UK can offer an interesting dimension to the conversation.

For this research, the React team tracked English-speaking mentions of the EU Referendum coming from authors located outside of the United Kingdom.

This data offers a look at what English speaking people who live outside the UK think, as well as British people who were based in a different country at the time of tweeting.

“Turkeys” in Gibraltar

We thought we’d start in (technically UK) Gibraltar to see what English speakers there had to say in the wake of the EU Referendum result. British citizens living in Gibraltar were able to vote in the EU Referendum, and they voted overwhelmingly to stay.

It was difficult to find a good word said about Brexit.

At the same time, 823 people in Gibraltar actually voted leave.

They have been dubbed the “turkeys that voted for Christmas” by some. These 823 leave voters caused Gibraltar to trend in the wake of the result as people puzzled over why they came to that decision.


Using location filters and our geo-tagged map to zoom in on Gibraltar was useful for finding the views of British citizens living there, and using this method helped us find other Brits living abroad and their concerns.

Brits abroad

Finding tweets from British people residing in different EU nations was a little tricky, but we found a few.

Their concerns about being able to stay where they are residing are yet to be fully addressed, much like those who originate from other EU countries currently residing in the UK.

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A reputational crisis?

The United Kingdom has gone down in many people’s estimations, and a recent study showed that Brexit had negatively affected the “overall attractiveness” of the UK.

Quantifying that kind of sentiment towards the UK using social data presents some difficulties (although in a broader study I’d estimate that valuable insights could be gleaned), but we did find some anecdotal evidence of people talking about the UK negatively in tweets coming from outside of the UK.

That’s not to say that everyone outside of the UK was upset with the result, though.

“Now it’s our turn”: #Frexit, #Grexit, #Italeave…

We wondered whether #Brexit would impact people’s thoughts on other countries leaving the EU, and found that “Frexit” saw a huge jump on the day of the result.


Of course, these social media mentions don’t indicate that people in other countries are going to be more inclined to leave the EU, but Brexit is definitely enough to start conversations.

The post-Brexit conversation was a hot topic amongst Trump supporters, too.

When the US Elections finally rolled around, Brexit mentions jumped as Trump was made President-Elect.


Going forward

If anything can be drawn from non-UK mentions of Brexit, it’s that it’s become a reference point for major political change, and it’ll be interesting to see how it’s used as debates surrounding other countries’ positions in the EU develop. We’ll be sure to keep an eye on the data.

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The Beyoncé Baby Boom: A Social Data Investigation

Following the announcement that Beyoncé was pregnant with twins, the Brandwatch React team got thinking.

If Kim Kardashian can influence members of her enormous following to spend make a jacket sell out just by wearing it on the Great British Bake Off, can Beyoncé inspire a boom in procreation?

As a team we are privileged to have the freedom to experiment with data from the world’s best social intelligence platform, Brandwatch Analytics. Why not explore the question with social data?

We decided to take a look at the online conversation surrounding pregnancy to see how it was made up and whether Beyoncé’s announcement has had an effect.

What patterns would emerge? We were interested but slightly afraid to find out.

Pregnant conversation

We took a year of mentions of “pregnant” on Twitter, as well as setting up Queries surrounding people talking about being pregnant themselves, people talking about intending to get pregnant and people talking about babies being born.

Our first surprise was that there were a worrying number of tweets that contained the phrase “can I get pregnant if ___?”. We won’t be addressing those questions in this post, although there’s certainly an opportunity here for a well-informed organization to dispel misinformation on the topic and to try to stop it misleading others.

Something we really wanted to know was how much digital behavior reflected established trends. For example, do mentions of babies being born align with real world trends? The answer is “kind of”.

August is generally the month in which most babies are born in the USA, and it’s also the most popular month for people to tweet the phrase “just had a baby” on Twitter (retweets not included). November, nine months before August, is also the least popular time to use the phrase.


While it’s a happy coincidence, this probably isn’t proof that Twitter data mirrors actual birth trends.

As we’ll see, it only takes a famous person to have a baby to get everyone talking about it – and, no doubt, the month in which Beyoncé’s twins are born will likely become the new peak month.

More broadly, there were around 25k mentions of “pregnant” on Twitter per day, but then the 1st of February 2017 happened. Beyoncé’s pregnancy announcement sent Twitter into meltdown, with 100,000 more “pregnant” mentions than you’d expect on an average day (once again, excluding retweets).


It’d be difficult to get a bigger reaction.

Pregnancy announcements

Looking at mentions of “I’m pregnant”, “We’re having a baby” etc, thousands of people announce that they are pregnant on Twitter every week (this data excludes retweets), but not everyone is serious.

For example, on April Fools day around 12,500 people tweeted to say they were pregnant. So original.


When Beyoncé announced her pregnancy we also found a boost in people talking about their own family plans. There was an outburst of coincidence.

We did initially filter out mentions of “food baby” but decided against filtering out all kinds of edible item because 1) it would take a while and 2) who are we to judge.

Others informed the world that they’d be pregnant at the same time as Beyoncé, with varying levels of excitement.

Tracking intent to have kids

We also tracked mentions of people saying they were going to have kids (with various variations, “i’m gunna have a baby”, “we will have a child” etc).

While we were hoping to recognize some kind of pattern in the data, there wasn’t really anything to report. Of course, the content of tweeted baby plans vary from humorous tweets to long term dreams which don’t easily translate onto a simple line chart in a useful way.

Tweets from around the time of Beyoncé’s announcement didn’t suggest that people were actually planning to have kids as a result of her pregnancy, and there was not significant increase in these kinds of mentions.

However, again, this kind of data presents a good opportunity for service providers to make their presence known – young people talking about having a baby may not be aware of the support that’s available, so targeted ads could work quite well here.

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Beyoncé baby boom?

Thinking about having a baby around this time of year seems fairly popular, but this year has seen a sustained interest on Google. That’s not necessarily Beyoncé’s influence, but it might be one of the reasons.

Given the many factors that go into making a decision about having a baby, it would be simplistic (and a bit offensive) to attribute a baby boom primarily to Beyoncé’s powerful influence. However, if our thoughts and behavior weren’t influenced by our idols then influencer marketing wouldn’t exist.

The social data does not suggest thousands of people are going to have babies because of Beyoncé, but we might check the stats again in nine months time.

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