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Matt Fitzgerald's picture

Team Ocean surfs Shark Week to a 93% increase

on September 4, 2014 - 6:46pm

Ocean advocates and champions of science won Shark Week this year.

But oh, how the mighty have fallen.... As we explained in an earlier post, Discovery's Shark Week took a massive dive this year, losing nearly half its online conversational volume. This is a big deal for the 27 year-old television and new media empire - the kind that gives rise to groan-inducing headlines about Shark Week (and Discovery) jumping the shark.

Those who don't know their shark-jumping history are doomed to ill-fated waterski trips.

We here at Upwell pay close attention to Shark Week because it's the Internet's Super Bowl of sharks - or for that matter, anything ocean-related. Each year, across the web, viewers (and bandwagon hoppers) take to social media to share their reactions to the shows and, well, to sharks. Thankfully, most of those people are shark fans.

Because we f@$%in' love sharks, and recognize the danger they're in, for the past three years Upwell has brought the shark conservation community together through our Sharkinars (seriously!) to share tips and make plans to take advantage of the Megalodon-size opportunity that Shark Week presents for bringing new supporters to the cause. (Note: Megalodon, while real, is also extinct, and has been for millions of years).

This year Shark Week followed up its fake 2013 documentary on Megalodon with not one, but two fake documentaries. And on top of that, a host of shows that misrepresented the work of scientists, shared incorrect facts, and inspired fear where fear wasn't due. 

Thankfully, Team Ocean stood up and called out Discovery for abandoning their mission to air nonfiction content, and tarnishing the Shark Week legacy that inspired so many young shark scientists and fans. (And, admittedly, probably a lot of dorm-room stoners.)

Shark Week lost 9 million viewers in the process. Nine million. Let that sink in.

This hasn't been a good year for Shark Week but it's been a fantastic one for the shark lovers of Team Ocean. We're here to say thank you.

Even as total Shark Week online conversation took a big hit, shark science and conservation content from Team Ocean experienced a surge of growth. 

Percent change in online mentions for Upwell's "Shark Week 2014" and "Shark Week: Team Ocean" keyword groups from 2013 levels.

Notice anything? Shark Week lost steam while shark-saving conversation ("Team Ocean") almost doubled. Go team!

Taking a closer look at our collective success reveals a historical trend. This is no flash in the pan.

Top: Online mentions for Team Ocean during Shark Week 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Bottom: Year-over-year % Increase in online mentions for Team Ocean during Shark Week, 2012-2014.

What the data reveals is that Team Ocean is growing fast. While that growth may be slowing, that may be due to network saturation. Essentially, more of the team is already in the game. 

Furthermore, even among the huge volume of Shark Week posts, the Team Ocean piece of that pie is getting bigger.

Team Ocean mentions as a percentage of total Shark Week mentions, 2013 vs 2014.

Got that? More pie!

We need more people that care about science and sharks to stand together and continue this momentum in the coming year.
Sharks are cool enough to have their own week, so let's make sure it's as awesome as they are.

Go team!


Ray Dearborn's picture

How to talk about California's marine protected areas online

on September 4, 2014 - 12:02pm

It’s been 15 years since passage of California’s Marine Life Protection Act, and two years since the completion of California’s new network of 124 underwater parks. Nonprofit organizations in California were critical players in achieving passage of the law and worked steadfastly to design the network in partnership with fishermen, scientists, and recreational ocean users.

This year, Upwell researched how people talk about California's marine protected areas online to learn what drives conversation and understand how to better engage Californians in paying attention to protected ocean resources.

While conversation volume about California's marine protected areas is relatively low, there is a big opportunity to increase attention and impact through creative and targeted communication strategies.

Daily social mentions for Upwell’s California MPAs keyword group (Radian6, 12/1/12-1/31/14).

Our findings show that most conversation about marine protected areas is educational in nature, but the content that drives conversation is celebratory and connects humans to marine resources. Talking about wildlife, explaining how MPAs work, and connecting with recreational and tourist activities helps increase attention.

In 2013, there were three reasons the conversation spiked:

  1. Celebratory events, such as Underwater Parks Day or the birthday of California's MPAs
  2. News coverage - most often about how MPAs are working
  3. Meetings and conferences, such as the #MPAsWork Twitter chat in November 2013 and the California Central Coast MLPA Symposium in March 2013

We also learned, through conducting case studies on five specific marine protected areas (Farallon Islands, Anacapa Island, Point Reyes, Elkhorn Slough and Point Lobos) that there is a big opportunity for advocates, ocean managers and educators to tap into local conversations to curate content, find new audiences and connect with local businesses that can serve as brand ambassadors for marine protected areas and marine reserves.

Our recommendations have been compiled into a handy tipsheet for ocean communicators. Click below to download and print!

We held a public webinar on August 7 to present our findings. You can watch the recording or view and download our slides.

Special thanks to the Resources Legacy Fund for their great work in establishing and protecting CA marine protected areas, and for making this research possible.

Matt Fitzgerald's picture

Shark Week 2014: Not Moar Shark?

on August 22, 2014 - 2:52pm

Press release proclamations to the contrary, Shark Week experienced a massive drop in online attention this year.

Online mention volume for Upwell's 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 'Shark Week All' keyword groups.

Total volume fell more than 47% from last year's record-setting levels. As seen below, post volume peaked on Sunday, Shark Week's opening night, and fell off thereafter. 

The graph above shows total social mention volume for Upwell's 'Shark Week 2013 All' and 'Shark Week 2014 All' keyword groups in Radian6. Data points were aligned by day-of-week.

While there are many theories for the decline in Discovery Channel's online fortunes - ranging from Megalodon-sized deceptions to Sharknado bandwagon fatigue - what's undeniably clear is that a big shift has occurred.

Could there be an answer in the (word) clouds? We leave it to you to decide. 

Word clouds for the six biggest days of Shark Week 2014 (generated using Upwell's 'Shark Week 2014 All' keyword group in Radian6).

That's all for now, Team Ocean, but stay tuned for more shark-y analysis in the days and weeks ahead.

In the meantime, we invite you to send us your theories at tips [at] upwell [dot] us





Ray Dearborn's picture

The Official Upwell Toolkit for Saving Sharks During Shark Week 2014

on July 23, 2014 - 4:51pm

// This Toolkit is in progress.
// Have suggestions for what should go in here?
// Get in touch

Welcome to your home for shark-saving resources to help you defend, protect and celebrate sharks online during Shark Week (starting Sunday, August 10 at 9pm ET)!

There's a lot in here, so we've packed all the action-y goodies at the top, and pushed the background information to the end.

I. Being a Super Engager

II. Background Information

III. Even More Sharky Resources!

Where to find good, public domain and creative commons images (be kind to your content creators, always credit images!)

This toolkit is a living, breathing thing, so please send us suggestions for additions and alterations. Also, let us know what this toolkit helps you do, and we'll repay the favor by driving more attention to your content!

Ray Dearborn's picture

Shark Week Twitter Influencers

on July 23, 2014 - 4:43pm

Can you hear the BAAAAH-dum-beats of summer? Shark Week is coming! August 10 marks the beginning of the biggest spike in the online ocean conversation all year. To get you prepped and pumped for our Sharkinar, we’ve compiled the best, most influential users driving the shark discussion on social media. This time we’ve got a double dose of awesome, with our continuously updated list of “Shark Saving Influencers” and a new feature for this year, our list of the “Shark Week Super Tweeters”, those who led the pack in mentions and retweets from Shark Week 2013.

Subscribe to Upwell's "Shark Saving Influencers" and “Shark Week Super Tweeters” lists on Twitter to keep tabs on these influencers from the comfort of your own Twitter feed. We recommend setting up a column for each one in your Twitter monitoring tool of choice (we use tweetdeck) and keeping an eye on it starting now, and going all the way through Shark Week. Retweet, respond, and engage.

Some of our favorites from “Shark Week Super Tweeters

Some of our favorites from “Shark Saving Influencers

Ian Somerhalder - @iansomerhalder