If you’re a hockey fan there’s no doubt you’ve found yourself in a debate at some point in the last year about two of the most celebrated stars the NHL has seen in years: Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. Most of the comparisons between these two players, naturally, are about their abilities on the ice—who has the better hands? who is faster? who is going to have more impact in the locker room?—however, as online marketers, we were curious (and a little nerdy, we freely admit): who has the stronger brand presence online?
Just to Note
Before starting the study, we hypothesized that McDavid would have the stronger online profile because of the amount of media coverage he has received since his rookie days and when he was picked first for the 2015 draft.
While performing this analysis, we employed some of the processes and tools that are frequently used by Bluetrain and the online marketing industry. We also reviewed a number of metrics that would help us get a better picture of each player’s brand power online.
Some of the tools we used include: Google Keyword Planner, Moz Followerwonk, and SocialMention.com and some of the metrics we analyzed include:
- Keyword search volumes: Real data from Google that shows how many times, on average, a specific phrase was searched in Canada over a certain time period
- Social authority: A metric created by the online marketing experts at Moz that measures how influential a specific Twitter handle is by taking into account followers, tweets, and user engagement rates
- Brand Strength: A metric created by socialmention.com which measures the likelihood that a certain brand or topic is being discussed on social media
- Brand Sentiment: A metric also created by socialmention.com that measures the general sentiment (positive, negative, or neutral) around a specific topic or brand
Brand-related Google searches
The above table shows the keyword phreases we compared as well as the average monthly searches of each of those exact terms between September 1, 2015 and October 31, 2015. We wanted to include a time frame in which both players were active and healthy. We would also like to note that these average monthly searches were for Canada only.
The middle column shows the percentage difference between search terms—the blue cells indicate how many more searches there were for McDavid-related terms over Eichel-related terms, and the gold cells indicate the (relatively few) categories where Eichel-related search volumes slightly surpassed McDavid-related searches.
Looking at the amount of blue in that Difference column alone, it’s clear to see that McDavid is the clear winner, and often by a large margin.
Who won on Google Search? McDavid.
Social Authority Comparison
We did a direct comparison of statistics between Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel’s Twitter accounts as Twitter is one of the more popular channels that sports fans use to keep track of their favorite teams and athletes.
If you look at the straight data alone, McDavid crushes Eichel in number of followers and total tweets. That being said, when we looked at their respective social authority scores, Eichel outshines McDavid by 8 points. This small point diferential could be because Eichel actually retweets who he follows twice as often as McDavid does. Engagement is very important factor for this metric, so it could be that Eichel’s propensity to retweet has earned him a small win over Eichel in this category.
Who won on Twitter? Eichel.
Brand Strength & Sentiment
The above infographics compare the brand strength and brand sentiment around “Connor McDavid” and “Jack Eichel”. More detailed explanations of the 4 metrics can be found at socialmention.com, however, a general description of these metrics can be found below:
- Strength: The likelihood that your brand is being discussed in social media, essentially, phrase mentions in the last 24 hours divided by total possible mentions.
- Sentiment: The ratio of generally positive mentions to generally negative mentions.
- Passion: The likelihood that users will repeatedly discuss your brand.
- Reach: The range of your influence, essentially, number of unique authors discussing your brand divided by the total number of mentions.
Overall, Jack Eichel has the higher brand strength, which indicates that he is being discussed more in social media channels than McDavid is, however, this could be because he plays in the U.S. and there are more U.S.-based media outlets reporting on him than there are Canadian outlets reporting on McDavid. (Socialmention.com aggregates social mentions from around the world, so this category is not “strictly Canadian” from a data perspective.)
Nevertheless, both McDavid and Eichel have very positive sentiments on social media.
Who won on brand strength? Eichel.
This part of the analysis looked closely at how each player’s respective teams capitalized on their star player’s brand power.
As it turned out, neither team was doing a very effective job of capitalizing on the reach of either player.
As you can see in the image above, there were only 12 true @mentions of McDavid by the Edmonton Oilers in over 1999 tweets. This is especially interesting because when we checked @EdmontonOilers’ most important tweets, McDavid was the focal point of more than a few of them. That being said, the Edmonton Oilers social media team is doing a somewhat satisfactory job of capitalizing on McDavid’s brand.
Connor McDavid skating with the #Oilers at practice today.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 1, 2016
In comparison with the Oilers, the Buffalo Sabres are not doing nearly enough to capitalize on Eichel’s brand. There were less than 5 true @mentions of Eichel even though some of their most important tweets showcased Eichel.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) December 27, 2015
Unfortunately, these tweets didn’t receive their highest possible level of engagement because they did not @mention Eichel and thus missed out on being retweeted and favorited by Eichel’s Twitter followers. Huge miss, Buffalo.
Who won for team @mentions? McDavid.
Of the 4 categories we looked at, McDavid won 2, and Eichel won 2. This was a bit of a frustrating realization to come to as an Oilers fan, especially since we were so sure that McDavid would blow Eichel out of the water.
It could be argued that the Google search category deserves to carry more weight since Canadians were more actively searching for McDavid-related terms—in that case, perhaps McDavid would edge out Eichel—however, the reverse case could also be made for Eichel as even with lower search volumes and less of a following, he does a lot more with what he has.
While we unfortunately aren’t able to say for sure on this topic, I guess it just shows that being selected 1st overall doesn’t mean you don’t have to work for your brand online, and that you don’t have to engage with your fan base. In the meantime, the debate lives on…