If you braved the crowds on Black Friday, you were far from alone: an estimated 100 million people were expected to go shopping over the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend.  Despite the reports that people spent less this year, analysts are saying that more people were out the door and in the malls.

(Did you post status updates while you bargain-hunted? Black Friday chatter was at an all-time high, with Facebook having the most mentions over the Thanksgiving week.)

I did a little social listening this year to see what brands or themes might come up on this year’s Black Friday.  One thing that did surprise me: WalMart’s biggest selling item was a towel.  The biggest retailer in the world sold 2.8 million towels, leaving this blogger to assume that people this year are (1) expecting a lot of family and friends, (2) suddenly feeling the need to be cleaner, or (3) have all read “Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The most interesting thing I found, though, was that a Boolean search that contained only the term “Black Friday” mirrors what actually happened: Cyber Monday stole the show.  I measured through the end of Cyber Monday, and this is the word cloud:black friday cyber monday Now, even I – someone who spent 8 years in e-commerce and remembers the advent of Cyber Monday – was surprised to see Black Friday so roundly upstaged in its own word cloud.  I actually went back into Buzz and only did monitoring through Sunday 12/1, to see if this word cloud would change.

It didn’t.

Another big surprise: Facebook chatter outweighed Twitter chatter.

social listening for black friday  and cyber monday 2013

Twitter had the most Black Friday chatter on Friday itself, but Facebook had more sustained chatter about it for the Thanksgiving week.

Now, I do a lot more social listening than most people do (I actually wrote a book about it; please do check out that free social listening guide or the replay of a recent social listening webinar if you want to learn more), and having access to an advanced social listening tool means that I play with it a lot.  This is the first time that I’ve seen more current event chatter on Facebook than Twitter, and while it’s true that Black Friday talk itself was mostly Twitter-based, the sustained Facebook chatter is significant.  Facebook is a personal network; Twitter is an interest-based network.  The fact that people are sharing their thoughts about a retail holiday on their personal network for a sustained amount of time means that this retail holiday – and its upstart Cyber Monday cousin – has made its way into the lifestyle of the American consumer, and this is good news for retailers. More good news for retailers: sentiment around Black Friday skewed positive. Two other graphs I found interesting were the demographic breakdowns, most notably gender and location:

 

black friday cyber monday social listening

Despite the fact that putting “shopping” into a Google image search returns a gozillion pictures of women, men were neck-and-neck on Black Friday chatter.

Brazil is leading the charge in the Viernes Negro / Lunes Cyber tradition, with 50% more internet traffic than usual.

Brazil is leading the charge in the Viernes Negro / Lunes Cyber tradition, with 50% more internet traffic than usual.

 

 

Yes, you read that right: Brazil accounted for 9% of Black Friday chatter.  I was surprised, too, until I realized that Brazil has a rather large collection of Wal-Marts.  A quick Google search confirmed that this retail holiday is sweeping Latin America, which led to Brazil’s retail numbers (and internet traffic) being 50% above last year.

So, there you have it: Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) 2013, as summed up by the millions of conversations analyzed with advanced social listening software.  If I had to summarize in haiku, it would read like this:

Cyber Monday wins
Latin America joins
Facebook beats Twitter