72 hours: A Retirement That Started a Series of Trends

Over the last 72 hours we may have potentially witnessed 2013s biggest sporting event – the retirement of arguably the greatest football club manager of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson.

On Tuesday evening the Internet started to buzz about the possibility of Sir Alex stepping down from the helm at Manchester United. Over the proceeding 72 hours, the football world witnessed a series of different twists and turns, and it was all captured beautifully across TV, Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia and Tumblr, to name a few platforms.

On Fergie’s last act as manager at Manchester United, what can we learn in terms of digital trends? As you’ll see below, we have outlined how the web reacted, and how the story unfolded across different websites and social platforms:

Tuesday

7.00pm – Online buzz: Rumors of Alex Ferguson’s retirement start to appear on the Internet.

Wednesday

7.00am – BBC Football: The BBC creates a live news feed as the rumors increase.

9.10am – Tweet: Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel shares his view of a potential announcement:

9.15am – Manchester United Press Office: Its officially announced that Sir Alex Ferguson will retire after 26 years at the helm of Manchester United.

9.35am – Twitter: 20 minutes after the announcement Twitter reports that the news story was generating 13,000 tweets per minute.

9.51am – Facebook: Manchester United press office creates the hash tag #thankyousiralex

10.00am – Google Trends: “Alex Ferguson” appears in Google.co.uk’s hot trends with 200,000+ searches.

10.30am – Tweet: Peter Shmeichel reacts to the news of Sir Alex’s retirement:

11.00am – Google Suggest: Users start searching for “Alex Ferguson retires” on Google. Consequently, Google suggest updates to show this trend:  

12.00pm – Twitter Trends: Football fans flood twitter with comments. As a result 9 of the top 10 twitter phrases related to Sir Alex’s retirement:

  • Sir Alex Ferguson
  • Manchester United
  • David Moyes – Football manager linked to the new vacancy.
  • Fergie
  • Mourinho – Football manager linked to the new vacancy.
  • #MUFC
  • #ThankYouSirAlex
  • Man Utd
  • Man U
  • Good Morning – only unrelated term that appears every morning.

12.10pm – Tweet: Former United star Cristiano Ronaldo reacts to the news:

1.30pm – Links & Social Shares: By early Manchester United’s official statement landing page has received 

  • 12,000 likes, 4,400 shares and 8,100 comments on Facebook
  • 16,800 tweets
  • 68 +1s
  • 200 links across the web

2.00pm – Amazon: Sir Alex’s Autobiograhy from 2001 is Amazon’s 5th most popular Football biography and 17th most popular sport biography:

2.30pm – Wikipedia: Sir Alex Ferguon’s Wikipedia page becomes the 8th most popular Wikipedia page across the world with a 2,644% upward trend. 

3.00pm – Google Trends: “Alex Ferguson” now has 500,000+ searches in Google.co.uk’s hot trends:

3.30pm – Tweet: @NandosUK announces that all Manchester stores will remain open by 5 minutes in tribute to Sir Alex. They create their own hash tag “#NandosFergieTime”:

4.00pm – Rumors: Attention now turn to who should replace Sir Alex as Manchester United’s manager and the future of Wayne Rooney. 

6.00pm – Google Suggest: Users start searching for “David Moyes” in relation to Manchester United. Google suggest updates to show this trend:

(Its worth noting “David Moyes Chelsea” relates to an old rumor from March 2013).

7.00pm – Wikipedia: Sir Alex Ferguon’s Wikipedia page is now the 7th most popular page with a upward trend of 4,270%.

8.00pm – Amazon: Sir Alex now has three different books and versions of his Autobiography appearing in Amazon’s top 20 most popular Football biographies.

Thursday

9.15am – Twitter: 24 hours after the announcement Twitter reports that the news story has generated 6,000,000 tweets. This rivals global news stories such as election of the new Pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and the re-election of US president Barack Obama.

2.00pm – Google Trends: David Moyes appears on Google.co.uk hot trends with 500,000+ searches:

2.30pm – Everton Press Office: Everton official announce David Moyes exit. 

3.00pm – Wikipedia: David Moyes starts to trend on Wikipedia with an uptrend of 563%.

3.50pm – Manchester United Press Office: David Moyes is officially announced as Sir Alex’s replacement.

4.30pm – Manchester United Press Office: Manchester United press office start a welcome David Moyes with the message #unitedwelcome

4.00pm – Twitter: David Moyes becomes the UK’s most trending phrase:

  • David Moyes
  • Manchester United
  • London
  • Wayne Rooney
  • Facebook
  • #gameinsight
  • Good Morning
  • #MUFC
  • Everton
  • Sir Alex Ferguson

5.30pm – Manchester United Press Office: Manchester United has now 302 redirected the official most annocuing Sir Alex’s retirement… don’t they know this is bad practice for SEO! (Sorry geeky upate). 

6.00pm – Wikipedia: Sir Alex Ferguson has a slim lead in term of Wikipedia page views. Sir Alex generated 189,057 in the last 24 hours compared with David Moyes 143,918.

7.00pm – Amazon: 

Sir Alex has 6 books appearing in Amazon’s top 20 most popular Football biographies.

Friday

9.00am – Links & Social Shares:

Both Official statements from Manchester United generated a large level of buzz over the last 24 hours:

10.00am – Wikipedia: In the last 24 hours David Moyes Wikipedia page generates more page views than Sir Alex Ferguson for the first time (201,887 compared with 131,562 views)

11.00am – Amazon: Sir Alex appears 3rd in Amazon’s top 20 most popular Sport biographies:

So what does this mean for digital marketing?

News and world events generate online trends every day, albeit on a smaller scale. By monitoring different websites and platforms, brands and marketers can take advantage of these breaking news trends to help drive traffic and buzz.

If we take some examples from Sir Alex’s retirement we can see that Nando’s took advantage of this news item and created their own quirky promotion. Interest in Sir Alex’s books rose significantly and online book retailers could have responded to this trend with paid search promotions for example.

At 8MS we like to keep an eye on a series of trends across the web, so much so we plan to announce a new tool next week. More to follow shortly.

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