Shaun White: Olympic glory quickly turned social media wipe out

From on top of the world one minute with a gold medal in hand to feverishly fighting to protect a tarnished reputation the next—Shaun White’s Olympics have been a wild ride.

From on top of the world one minute with a gold medal in hand to feverishly fighting to protect a tarnished reputation the next—Shaun White’s Olympics have been a wild ride.

In case you missed it—and if you weren’t watching social media, you might have—U.S. snowboarder Shaun White reclaimed his place at the top of the Olympic podium on Tuesday night with dazzling run. Yet while many watching celebrated, the tides were already turning on social media.

In 2016, Lena Zawaideh, the former drummer in White’s band, sued White for sexual harassment and breach of contract. White later settled. But as White celebrated Tuesday night in an emotional scene, and with the #MeToo movement still fresh, many took to Twitter to draw attention to the previously fairly quiet news.

The matter turned into a tidal wave of discussion and intense media coverage when White brushed off a question about the lawsuit in a post-event press conference, calling it gossip.

Frankly, talk about a face plant in the snow.

The numbers we saw back up the whiplash-inducing public perception. From Feb. 7 to 12, negative sentiment on social media for White was almost negligible. On Feb. 13 (U.S. time), however, right as White was taking the podium, the negative sentiment numbers spiked sharply into the thousands—and climbing.

The numbers are a dramatic example of something we see for brands regularly.

The tides can turn on social media in an instant, and those who aren’t plugged in might have no idea until mainstream media catches up. At Fifty & Five, we carefully monitor all platforms, and we have access to detailed reports, down the public’s feeling about a topic.

While knowing the numbers might not have saved White from the important issue being raised, for our clients, having those insights allows us to alert them to any issues early and take steps to make it right—so their reputations stay deservedly golden.

Author
Lauren Sedam
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