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A Year Later, Dick’s Looks Smart for Ignoring the False Signal of Social Media

Published by Engagement Labs May 30, 2019

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Dick’s Sporting Goods this week announced positive first quarter results, beating analyst estimates by 4 cents a share, and raising the company’s full year outlook.  CNBC reported the stock trading 18% higher than a year earlier.

It is doubtful anybody anticipated Dick’s would be performing this well, 14 months after announcing it would stop selling assault rifles in response to the tragic February 2018 school shooting in Parkland, FL. Indeed, CEO Ed Stack told investors the move was “not going to be positive from a traffic standpoint and from a sales standpoint.”

An important sign of trouble was the eruption of negative sentiment about Dick’s in social media as supporters of gun rights took to Twitter and Facebook to express anger at the retailer.

But the opposite signal was measurable in the real-world conversations of Americans, the conversations about brands that happen face-to-face in lunchrooms and backyards, and across family dinner tables.  Those conversations about Dick’s remained positive, as we reported before and after Dick’s announced Q1 results last year.

Today, the brand’s steady performance on net income and rising stock price look far more consistent with the steady, positive sentiment of offline conversations versus the volatile—and often negative—discussion in social media. In the trend line below, we see two very negative turns in social media sentiment at the time of the initial announcement on gun sales, and later when Dick’s was among several brands criticized for being anti-conservative in a widely shared tweet that predicted Dick’s being relegated to the “dustbin of history.”

 019-05 EL07 DICKS BLOG CHART v1-01

The divergence of online and offline conversations is not unusual.  As our award-winning analysis has shown, there is very little correlation between online and offline conversations, even though both matter a great deal to business outcomes. 

Engagement Labs helps companies assess risks and opportunities that are revealed by tracking both online and offline consumer conversations.  For more information, contact us today.

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