By Claudio Pinhanez
Analysis quantifies social media sentiment of country’s national game.
Brazil is a country of 194 million people. And 194 million soccer coaches. But only the (real) coach Luiz Felipe Scolari’s opinion has ever been heard – until Ei! IBM Research – Brazil’s new tweet-crunching tool, tuned to everything about Brazil’s national team, now gives everyone a voice.
The team is testing Ei! (an expression to get someone’s attention, analogous to “hey!” in English) at all five of the national team’s 2013 FIFA Confederation Cup games happening in Brazil through June 30. In five-minute increments, beginning one hour before a game, the two hours during the game, and one hour afterward, Ei! grabs hundreds of thousands of tweets about the match, players, related news, and, of course, the coach.
Ei! uses IBM Infosphere Streams as its supporting platform and runs on a SmartCloud Enterprise public cloud based in Germany. During the games, Ei! is constantly analyzing positive, neutral and negative sentiment of the tweets. For example, the popular (but polarizing) player Neymar scored Brazil’s first goal within the opening three minutes of their game against Japan. Something to cheer about, right? Not according to the fans. More than 96 thousand tweets mentioned Neymar during the game, but more fan comments about his performance were negative at 60 percent!
Sharing the insight with Brazil … and the coach
We gave Coach Scolari special access credentials to view the data on his smartphone. So, he could tune into the analysis of his players and games at any time. Although we don’t know if Scolari necessarily paid attention to the negative sentiment toward his star player during the Japan game, the fans overwhelmingly approved of Neymar’s performance in the 2-0 win over Mexico: 86 percent positive tweets, to 14 percent negative out of more than 140,000 tweets posted about him.
Check out his goal and assist on the second score and you’ll see why the fans approved!
Brazil TV network Rede Bandeirantes also has exclusive access to Ei! For every game we select two to three stories related to what emerges from the data. Then Banderiantes incorporates the sentiment breakdown in their post-game commentary. For example, during the game against Mexico, the story was all about how country declared “that’s the Neymar we want to see!”
How we analyze the tweets
The analysis performed by Ei! starts with language simplification around Brazil, soccer, and the players on the national team. We convert all variations of related verbs used on Twitter, in terms of its various tenses, into a single form. We also consolidate all synonyms for players, such as striker Givanildo Vieira de Souza, whose nickname is “Hulk” (that is commonly misspelled as “Ruck”).
We started with a sample of 500 tweets about one of Brazil’s games before the Confederation Cup to help the system learn about how words convey positive and negative sentiment about soccer. From the sample, we estimated a value of influence for each word as it impacted the whole tweet. So, when a new tweet comes in during an actual game, Ei! simplifies and puts a value on each words to determine their influence on the meaning of the tweet. Once we established the influence of certain words, we could surmise the sentiment of hundreds of thousands of tweets.
Finally, Ei! and its ability to understand Portuguese (and everything about Brazilian soccer) was combined with IBM Infosphere Streams so that it could manage in real time the hundreds of thousands Confederation Cup – and next year, possibly the millions of World Cup – tweets.
What Else Can Ei! Analyze?
My team thinks of this analysis as a demonstration of what IBM can do for any decision maker, such as a Chief Marketing Officer. Think of the CMO as the coach. He or she could listen to what customers are saying about the company brand.
Just in the same way Ei! analyzed a storm of tweets when outraged fans reacted to Coach Scolari’s decision, to remove another star player, Oscar, during the second half of a “friendly” match (not a game of FIFA Confederation or World Cup consequence) , so it also could gauge the response to a CMO’s branded message.
Scolari certainly did not expect the negative reaction to Oscar’s benching, since he had publicly announced it before the match – and in context, fan reaction would not have changed his decision. Ei! showed that fans pay attention even to brief statements and seemingly inconsequential statements. In the same way, an organization may want to know how and why their message is received on Twitter, as it could impact brand perception and ultimately, sales.
Follow Ei!’s analysis of every Brazil FIFA Confederation Cup game on our website.