How well has COP17 performed in the online space?

It has been 4 days since the end of COP17. Politicians argue that this round of climate haggling bore results far better than COP15 in Copenhagen, but the green peace brigade tell us that another opportunity to do the right thing has been missed. However, the purpose of this post is not to discuss merits and demerits of climate change as I cannot profess any expertise on the subject.

My interest in COP17 lies in two areas. First as a passionate Mzansi citizen, I would like to know whether this global event has entrenched my country’s status as a successful global events and tourist destination. Word frequency analysis relating to COP17’s total online mentions puts Durban at the top of the pile, and South Africa in the Top 10.

COP17 Top 10 Words

TagCrowd: Top 10 Words

My country’s hosting received a commendable rating overall, if Moneyweb‘s article is anything to go by. I am hoping that we can leverage this to attract more tourist dollars, something we need desperately to alleviate our high unemployment rate.

Secondly as a digital marketer, I would like to know if COP17 had a decent online presence. I used HowSociable – a tool that measures a brand’s social network visibility using 20 well-known social sites – for my analysis.

COP17 - Online Visibility Score

COP17 - Online Visibility Score

Is the score of 936 good or bad for COP17? Well, as HowSociable explains, a visibility score should always be read relative to either a target score, identified competitors’ scores or relative to previous periods. I look at comparative visibility scores in my takeouts below.

While HowSociable indicates that COP17 was mentioned on many of the 20 selected social sites in the figure above, my takeouts on the results are as follows:

  • COP17’s online content was driven mainly by visuals on Vimeo (1) and Flickr (2). This indicates that most of the netizens who posted the videos and pictures were actually in #Durban for the better part of the event, and this explains the recorded volume of this type of content.
COP17 Pics

COP17 Pics

  • Next, the high usage of Ning (3) and Digg (4) indicates that this event was not part of everyday conversations among many ordinary social netizens (at least not in South Africa) who use mainly Twitter and Facebook.

TweetLevel‘s analysis top #COP17 tweeps indicates that social network conversations were driven by netizens who had vested interest in COP17, including lobby groups and the green peace movement. This supports results of HowSociable.

#COP17's Top Tweeps

#COP17's Top Tweeps

  • I compared visibility scores for COP15, COP16and COP17 as shown in the table below

    HowSociable Scores

    HowSociable Visibility Scores

I did not investigate specific reasons why COP15 got the highest visibility score. But, it is worth mentioning that is was billed as a disastrous event, which makes COP17 a phenomenal success by comparison.

A key observation of the graph above is the growing importance in importance of visual content over time, as shown by the top 3 social networks for each of the 3 COP’s.


COP17 was good for South Africa’s global image. Equally importantly, the COP17 performed better on social networks compared to COP16, but COP15 had the best presence of the 3 events. Analysis has highlighted that there is opportunity for UN to extend online discussions on climate change beyond stakeholders with vested interests, given its impact on all human beings.

What are your thoughts on COP17 as ordinary citizen of the world? Feel free to share them with me in the comment section below. Also share this article if you find content herein valuable.



  • Nuffdotty – where thoughts on the subject of education, mostly relating to South Africa, are shared
  • Diski4Life – a blog about development of South African soccer post World Cup 2010

One thought on “How well has COP17 performed in the online space?

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