Dick Harmon: Utah analytics company breaks down BYU's Ziggy Ansah and the NFL draft

Published: Wednesday, May 15 2013 4:15 p.m. MDT

Ezekiel Ansah, the Detroit Lions first round draft pick, addresses the media during an NFL football news conference the team's training facility in Allen Park, Mich., Friday, April 26, 2013. Ansah, born and raised in Ghana, was selected fifth overall in the NFL draft on Thursday.

Carlos Osorio, Associated Press

The power of social media is rising at a phenomenal rate.

In all aspects of media, especially sports, it has become a force of nature — breaking news, engaging fans and delivering people directly to everyone.

Even BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall has a Twitter account to take advantage of NCAA rules and communicate directly with prospects and fans.

Did you know there were more than 30,000 tweets on Twitter about Ziggy Ansah before and after Detroit drafted him? And, connections to those who tweeted about him represented a potential audience of 53 million?

A detailed analysis of social media paints an interesting picture of what kind of chatter took place when the Lions picked Ansah in the first round of the NFL draft — not only what, but where and by whom. It is interesting to note, social media traffic about Ansah around the Detroit area was neutral or negative before the draft, but on draft day turned positive. And the second-most interesting thing about Ansah on the Internet wasn’t his speed, size or his unique story of having never played football until a few years prior to the draft. It was his glasses.

That’s right, the lensless, black-rimmed glasses Ziggy wore on draft day drew so much attention around the world, they became one of the biggest features about him. And the attention led to free admission for Ansah to 3D IMAX movie theaters for one year.

Whether it's Ziggy, the Jazz, BYU, Utah or Utah State, an interesting tool that gauges and measures social media traffic is featured in a startup business out of Sandy called NUVI.

This company is a real-time analytics platform for social media called "visual intelligence." It makes social conversations on the web actionable and insightful.

One of the vice presidents, onboard NUVI for just four months, is former BYU linebacker and defensive captain Cameron Jensen.

All this data is pulled from Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, YouTube, Delicious, Reddit, Flickr, Vimeo and more than 3 million RSS feeds.

In other words, the new media, the one that is fast becoming the most popular communication device of a generation, has become a powerful presence for not only the user but those who want to use it.

For instance, Jensen said his company’s analytics can tell you that top draftees Eric Fisher (Kansas City) and Luke Joeckel (Jacksonville) may have been judged by NFL gurus to be similar at the top of the college heap, but Fisher is by far more popular, more well-known and has more positive vibes in cyberspace. And much of that is because Fisher tweets more on Twitter, has more followers and engages with them in a back-and-forth discussion. That information is valuable to somebody.

Conversely, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o's negatives were high before, during and after the NFL draft. He had similar negatives as West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Both slipped down the ladder on draft day.

The interesting thing is, Jensen’s company tools can break it down by topic, by source, by geography, by intensity and by time.

This is interesting if you are a sports franchise or college program, somebody like the Jazz or Utes or Cougars. It’s interesting to see how this fits in if you were the Deseret News or selling tennis shoes, or if you are Tiger Woods and had just won a big tournament.

“People are talking about your brand, whether you are listening or whether you care about it or not. They are talking about you and discussing you” said Jensen.

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