Phelps Vs Shark Disappoints Audiences as Phelps Does Not Eat Shark

July 24, 2017

Phelps Vs Shark Disappoints Audiences as Phelps Does Not Eat Shark

Michael phelps racing a shark
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When I woke up this morning I quickly checked my social media to see the results of the country’s second most important race. My reaction was much the same as last time: disappointment. Like so many naive Discovery Channel viewers, I was actually thinking the G.O.A.T Michael Phelps would race a Great White Shark. Like in the same pool.

Sometimes you hit that sweet spot and a random post goes viral. Take @RHomler for instance. He only has 387 followers, and yet last night he wrote a tweet that was liked by over 29 thousand people and retweeted 14 thousand times. Crazy right? Almost as crazy as thinking Phelps would actually race a shark. But @RHomler’s tweet didn’t end there. It was picked up not only for this prestigious blog, but was also broadcast this morning on Good Morning America.

you were on good morning america

This one tweet dominated the social conversation around Shark Week’s big event. As far as trending concepts go, you can see that “When Michale Phelps said he” was the most popular by a landslide. RHomler was also the most *mentioned, had the most reshares and was the number one trending URL.

*These numbers are based on our monitor running less than 24 hours. I turned it on around 7pm MST last night. 
Michael Phelps racing a shark


His wasn’t the only tweet to gain some traction last night. Take a look at this tweet taking a less-than subtle jab at Ryan Lochte.

As I was digging through the various comments to Matt’s tweet, I couldn’t help but screenshot this interaction because I thought it was hilarious.

Sharkweek 2017 Get it? Sharks? West Side Story? Genius.

In All Seriousness

While I’m sure that Discovery Channel loves these hilarious tweets, I imagine they would want some actual insights from all this data. So, what can we learn from a monitor around an event that is less than 24 hours old? Well, the first thing I noticed is their hashtag campaign was a remarkable success. In such a short time, the hashtag “#sharkweek” was by far the most used keyword.

Trending top keyword frequency

Looking at our bubble stream, I can see that there are quite a few large circles. The larger the bubble stream, the larger the following of that particular user. If I were in marketing for Discovery Channel, this visual would be helpful to quickly see who was saying what. I could also tweet, retweet, favorite, reply, flag, or quote from this screen so I don’t have to log in somewhere else. Engagement from one dashboard is a huge time saver. NUVI bubble stream

Another interesting insight is the conversation created by leveraging the fame of Michael Phelps to kick off a weeklong show about sharks.

media influences


Discovery Channel’s marketing did a fantastic idea of coming up with this idea and then promoting it. Look at the news outlets talking about it. Even this morning, if you Google the Michael Phelps versus shark race there are articles by The New York Times, Time Magazine, and many more. Yes, some viewers are complaining because they feel cheated of seeing Phelps swim against an actual shark (I know how they feel). But from a PR perspective, Discovery’s Shark Week 2017 is off to a great start.

Spoiler: In case you were wondering, Phelps lost.

I know, right?

In the meantime, we have a whole week to sit back and watch real sharks eat real things. Oh, and Phelps already calling for rematch. What do you think? Real shark in the water next time?



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