How close did social media buzz and search queries come in predicting Oscar winners?

25 Feb 2013

As with any major event in recent times, last night’s Oscars was discussed far and wide across social media, and it seems the most-talked-about and searched-for stars and films turned out to be the winners on the night.

According to Facebook, chatter about this year’s Academy Awards reached an all-time high on the social network from the nominations announcement to the ceremony last night. Breaking it down, ‘Oscars’ was mentioned three times more this year than last and the films nominated for Best Picture were mentioned 20 times more than 2012’s nominees.

If Facebook likes counted, Les Misérables would have walked away with the prize, though, and the most mentioned nominee was Django Unchained. But, on the night, mentions of category winner Argo jumped 2,460pc, while mentions of director, star and producer Ben Affleck shot up 23,500pc as he made his acceptance speech.

While Facebook users were a bit off in predicting Best Picture, they were more on the money when it came to the actors. Best Actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis was the most talked-about star on profiles from New York City and Los Angeles from the time his nomination was announced to his acceptance of the award. The buzz around Best Actress Jennifer Lawrence also preceded her win, ranking as the most-talked-about nominated actress in the US leading up to the awards.

Among the elements of the show that were most talked about on Facebook were Mark Wahlberg’s appearance with Ted, the foul-mouthed teddy bear, and Adele’s performance of Skyfall, which was awarded Best Original Song.

Facebook Oscars Infographic

Google guesses the winners

The prescient nature of the online community proved true on Google as the most-searched for nominees were Jennifer Lawrence and Daniel Day-Lewis.

Google Oscars trends

When the show ended, Argo was the sixth-most searched nominee, followed by other winners Ang Lee (Best Director) and Christoph Waltz (Best Supporting Actor).

As we all know, the Oscars is not just about awarding the film industry but also critiquing fashion, and this year’s most searched for red carpet gowns were Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron and Jessica Chastain.

Google Oscars trends

Interesting spikes were seen throughout the show, such as a boom in searches for ‘Kirk’ at 8.36pm ET (1.35am GMT) reaching almost 1,500 per minute. This was in response to Seth MacFarlane’s show opener wherein William Shatner appeared in full-on Star Trek Captain Kirk mode. First Lady Michelle Obama’s appearance to announce the Best Picture winner also saw searches for her name spike to 4,500 per minute.

The night’s more surprising moments prompted questions and, following the tied win for Best Sound Editing (Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall), searches for ‘tie’ hit more than 5,000 per minute and many searches asked, ‘Has there ever been a tie in the Oscars?’ (And yes, there has, five times before.)

Before the ceremony, Google picked its winners based on search volume and was right with four out of six guesses, selecting Life of Pi for Best Picture, Hugh Jackman for Best Actor, Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress, Christoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor, Anne Hathaway for Best Supporting Actress and Steven Spielberg for Best Director.

Next year we can see if social media and search has improved the predictive skills of the internet, but until then let’s enjoy a look back on 2012 in film.


Crystal ball image via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.