Tim Tebow’s Super Bowl run was cut short Saturday night, but not before the Denver Broncos quarterback cemented his status as the sultan of social media.
Thanks to a combination of controversial beliefs, leading-man looks and improbable playmaking ability, Tebow has commanded his own social stratosphere during the 2011-2012 NFL season.
Indeed, Tebow generated more mentions on Twitter and Facebook than Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, New Orleans’ Drew Brees, New York’s Eli Manning and New England’s Tom Brady combined, according to new data from social media monitoring and analytics firm General Sentiment.
What lessons can brands draw from Tebow's social success?
“For marketers, the lesson is that the message of perseverance, good character and hard work still sells,” Steven Kwon, General Sentiment analyst, explained in an email exchange.
“He's a fresh contrast to many other professional athletes,” Kwon said of Tebow, noting his open devotion to Christianity, his lack of natural talent at the quarterback position, and his blue-collar nature.
Because Tebow has had to work harder than most players in the NFL to attain the success that he's had, Kwon explained, “many people can identify with Tebow because they see a little bit of themselves in him.”
Still, not all of Tebow’s attention was wanted. Although he generated 65% of all positive mentions among the remaining playoff quarterbacks, Tebow actually spawned an even larger chunk of negative mentions.
Despite what General Sentiment terms “his humble piety,” a large number of social users were not happy with Tebow thrusting his Christian beliefs on the populace.
Melding the good and the bad, the Tebow phenomenon has been steadily growing throughout the season, especially since the star sat on the bench for his team’s first four games.
His ascendance to the starting spot became fully evident last Sunday, when his game-winning pass in the first minute of overtime generated 9,420 social mentions per second -- a new record, according to General Sentiment.
Could the right brand ride Tebow's success?
“Sure,” according to Kwon. “As a brand, I think Tebow's appeal could make an impact across many different demographics.”
In another relevant finding, one of the top terms that describes Tebow’s positive Sentiment is that he “leads.”
“In America’s political and corporate culture, people are complaining about a lack of leadership,” Kwon said. “However, Tebow’s ability to lead his team to victory, even when he or his team aren’t playing at their best, convinces people that he personifies leadership.
"People are looking for these types of leaders in the political and corporate worlds, as America and the rest of the world are struggling in many areas.”