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Can Social Media Predict the Oscars? Not So Much.

There are lots of predictions out there. Don't get too caught up in the social-inspired ones.

Helga Esteb/ Shutterstock

The Oscars are Sunday night, which means social data companies have been crunching the numbers to tell us exactly which film, actor or actress is generating the most “buzz” online.

But while the data can be fun, is it really that helpful or accurate in predicting actual outcomes?

Well, not so much.

Last year, Hootsuite accurately predicted the winners of six of the nine major categories using total social media interactions around each nominee to determine who was most popular. This year, it described that prediction strategy to be “very accurate.”

But Hootsuite pointed out something else. “While social media can’t tell us who will win, we can learn who would, if the internets had their way,” the company wrote. The problem is, the Internets don’t get their way, not when it comes to the Oscars.

The Oscars aren’t like elections, where those creating the social media buzz can also cast an actual vote. The Academy members are probably up there with the Supreme Court Justices on the list of groups least likely to be influenced by what they read on Twitter (assuming they read it at all).

So while the masses can clamor all they want, their voices don’t matter when it comes to selecting a winner. (Sorry, masses.)

Adobe understands this. It still pulled the data, of course, but for another reason: Marketing. Brands will want to know when a fan favorite wins or loses, as it will help them plan their marketing strategy around the event.

“If [Bradley] Cooper loses and you are, say, a beer brand, you could tweet out a coupon saying, ‘Bummed about Bradley Cooper losing? Have a beer on us,'” Adobe wrote, offering up an example of how this might work.

Add in one final curve ball here: Not all social analytics companies arrive at the same conclusion when it comes to measuring social buzz.

Adobe, for example, found that Cooper was the most talked-about nominee in the best male actor category for his role in “American Sniper.” But Hootsuite found Benedict Cumberbatch got the most buzz for “The Imitation Game.” Both companies would tell you their findings are representative of the general social media universe, yet they don’t line up.

So basing your selection on the crowd favorite depends on who is polling the crowd.

Social media is good for a lot of things, including celebrating if your favorite film wins an Oscar, or throwing shade at gloating friends if it doesn’t. Predicting the actual winners, though? That’s still a work in progress.

Adobe data:


Hootsuite data:


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