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What News Items Are Biggest on Social Media This Week?

In 2014, social media IS the news.

If Facebook or Twitter release an update, it’s news. If a celebrity partakes in a social media trend (ala the #icebucketchallenge to #strikeoutALS), it’s news. And if there’s a news story breaking, it’s likely breaking on social first.

This week has been a veritable smorgasbord of social media trending hashtags, breaking news, campaign activism, and public backlash for things that happened IRL (in real life).

Regularly monitoring some of the biggest global stories, we’ve pinpointed relevant conversations around viral topics ranging from pop culture phenomenons like Shark Week, to serious national issues like the social media reaction and use of the hashtag #iftheygunnedmedown in response to Mike Brown’s death in St. Louis.

Using Brandwatch Analytics we’ve looked at exactly how these stories are being discussed online, who the major players are, and dove deep into the data. Listening is always the starting point to determine key conversation catalysts, identify top trending hashtags, impressions, mention spikes, and much more.

Here is a look at how some of this week’s top news stories played out on social.

Robin Williams

  • At Brandwatch we started pulling social data 30 minutes after the news was announced

  • In less than one day after the news broke, there were over 6 million mentions related to the passing of Robin Williams

  • Top hashtags surrounding this conversation (beyond the beloved comedian’s name), include #robinwilliamswillliveonforever (over 17,569 mentions and 77,072,099 impressions) #mrsdoubtfire, #legend, #greatness, #hook, and #jumanji

  • Most mentioned topics include some of Robin Williams’ most well-known movies and characters such as “genie” “flubber” “Mrs Doubtfire” “Patch Adams” “Hook” and “Peter Pan"

  • "Part of our childhood”, one of the most mentioned topics, has been mentioned over 105,598 times

    • @tweetlikegirls photo collage of Robin Williams and some of his most beloved characters, RTs 32,822 and 28,428 favorites


Top Hashtags Robin Williams_BW.png


Top Authors Robin WIlliams_BW.png


Robin Williams Topics_BW.png

ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge

As the White House staff (very likely) decides whether or not to set up this video and social media opportunity on Martha’s Vineyard during President Obama’s vacation, we tracked mentions online of both hashtags, #icebucketchallenge and #strikeoutALS.

  • We’ve seen over 71,000 mentions online in the last 7 days related to the social media campaign to raise awareness

  • Top trending topic is “24 hours” with nearly 9,000 mentions

  • Top authors on Twitter are athletes and major hockey and MLB teams (@NHLBruins, @giants, @brewers, @penguins, @nhlcanes, @jlucroy20, and @kyleohse26)

  • Demographics breakdown: 43% women, 57% men, 95% of the conversation is in the US, followed by Canada (2%), Ecuador (1%) and the UK (less than 0%)

  • Below are two charts, some of the most mentioned Tweeters and the most mentioned topics around the campaign

Twitter Authors ALS.pngScreen Shot 2014-08-13 at 9.41.09 AM_BW.png

Discovery Channel’s Shark Week


  • The Shark Week madness has been mildly brewing in online conversations over the past month (although we notice there is a dull roar of mentions scattered throughout the year as people look forward to Shark Week even if it’s months away)

  • Over 177,000 mentions in the last 7 days

  • As the week kicked off this past sunday, excitement for the Discovery Channel’s weeklong homage to the most aggressive creature in the sea is the key topic of conversation “excited for/about shark week” (over 4,000 mentions), “Shark week starts” (8,435 mentions) “watching shark week” (1,499 mentions), and “wait for shark week” (2,436 mentions) are some of the most mentioned topics

  • Unconventional topics associated with the discussion of shark week online include Rob Lowe (nearly 2,000 mentions) and Dunkin Donuts (close to 1,00 mentions)

  • Brands are jumping overboard with branding and social media enthusiasm correlating to the unofficial holiday

    • Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome has a Shark Week Tracker and microsite “HowFarAmIfromSharksRightNow.com” that’s getting media buzz (Digiday and AdWeek)

    • Cold Stone Creamery’s #stayfrosty hashtag is one of the top ten hashtags associated with Shark Week online discussions

  • Greenpeace is trying to jump into the conversation tweeting today, "It might be #SharkWeek but it's also #ElephantDay! Help protect their forest homes: http://grnpc.org/Ig0Jt  pic.twitter.com/KOnNQ9Pdv8” to raise awareness for Elephant extinction (which some are predicting could happen in the next 20 years)


Shark Week Top Hashtags.png


Shark Week Top Topics.png

Social media responds to the Mike Brown shooting with #iftheygunnedmedown

  • Total mentions: Over 36,000 mentions since August 9

  • Conversation keeps spiking with over 11,000 mentions on August 11, nearly 9,500 mentions on August 12, and already at 13,500 for August 13

  • Top hashtags associated with conversations around #iftheygunnedmedown

    • #mikebrown - 264 tweets and over 5.6 million impressions

    • #justiceformikebrown - 73 tweets and 846,000 impressions

    • #ripmikebrown - 102 tweets and 964,000 impressions

  • Most mentioned topics:

    • “Twitter" with over 25,000 mentions

    • “IfTheyGunnedMeDown Which Picture” over 3,500 mentions

    • “IfTheyGunnedMeDown confronts” nearly 2,100 mentions and the second most talked about topic today

    • “Mike Brown” has nearly 1,000 mentions

    • “Justice for Mike Brown” only has over 600 mentions

    • Media outlet “The Root” is a trending topic as well with over 800 mentions

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 11.02.02 AM_BW.png

Social data allows us to analyze, decipher, and pinpoint key trends. Social intelligence is powerful stuff, revealing more than just numbers and statistical facts, but giving us insights into major issues and top-of-mind stories. If a story is sparking social media conversations, we’ll be listening.

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