By Anita Wadhwani, The Tennessean
An estimated 150,000 fans who attended Bonnaroo or the CMA Music Festival went home this week after a four-day celebration of outdoor music, food and drink.
they left behind, however, was a vast trail of virtual clues that will
help guide city officials, festival organizers, recording artists,
corporate sponsors and advertisers to potentially rethink how they
invest in the festivals next year.
Interested in the best way to reach fans next year? It may not be Facebook. Twitter was overwhelmingly the social media expression of choice among fans at both festivals.
95 percent of all CMA Music Festival social media were in 140-character
Tweets. At Bonnaroo, Twitter accounted for 91 percent of all mentions.
which artist is generating the most excitement? It's not necessarily
the headliners. American Idol contestant Lauren Alaina earned more
mentions than Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and Jason Aldean at CMA
At Bonnaroo, Kenny Rogers earned almost as many mentions as Foster the People among a typically non-Kenny Rogers demographic.
what merchandise interested fans the most? Baby wipes and sunscreen
ranked high at Bonnaroo; cowboy boots, cowboy hats and Daisy Dukes at
"This information represents real dollars, real returns on
investment -- this data can paint a compelling picture of who these
attendees are and how you cater to them," said Jim Cheney, on staff with
corporate communications in the Nashville office of Zehnder
Communications. Zehnder tracked social media data for The Tennessean.
social media habits of concertgoers are of particular importance to
corporate sponsors of live music events. They spent $1.17 billion to
advertise at festivals and concerts last year, said William Chipps of
IEG Sponsorship Report, which tracks corporate sponsorships.
speak with sponsors on a regular basis, and ... in the last week, nine
of 10 times it (has) come up in conversation that they're placing much
more attention on social media when it comes to sponsorships," Chipps
But while social media chatter can attract the interest of
corporations and advertisers, where dollars are spent in the future
takes a bit of analysis.
For automaker Chevrolet, which sponsored
the CMA Fest's "Chevrolet Riverfront" Stage, the fact that name was
mentioned 213 times in social media during the course of the weekend can
be a plus, Chipps said. But company executives may wonder whether they
should attach their brand name next year to a more popular category. Fan
Fair Hall, for example, earned 869 mentions over the four-day festival.
"Sponsors want to be sure they can go along for the ride," he said.
Hash tag heaven
contrast, Bonnaroo hasn't inspired many car companies or automotive
products to become sponsors so far. But the Manchester, Tenn., festival
inspired a lot of conversation about driving.
"Road trip," which
got 1,258 mentions, was one of a wealth of Tweets, posts and pictures
shared about the art of travel, which also included mentions of motor
homes, vans, buses, hybrids and Volkswagens.
Debra Smith, vice
president of digital marketing for the Nashville Convention and Visitors
Bureau, said she expects measuring social media to become easier and as
routine as tracking hotel booking data to determine the popularity of
Nashville's tourism industry.
Digital marketing has been a strong
focus of the CVB for five years, but the staff has increasingly joined
the conversation at live events, using the ability of the online
channels to directly respond to visitors, including their concerns and
"It's a direct conversation, and it's their choice
whether they want to talk to us or not," she said. "The other thing is
it's virtually free. There's very little expense associated with social
media so far."
For Nashville-based country music cable network
CMT, social media tracking at this year's CMT Music Awards broadcast
Wednesday could prove to be a big boon to recruiting advertisers for
next year's show.
For the first time, the hashtag #CMTAwards
trended worldwide. Last year the hashtag peaked at 325 Tweets per
minute. This year the hashtag peaked at 2,178 Tweets per minute at 9:01
p.m., when country singer Luke Bryan won in the Male Video of the Year
"Advertisers like being involved in shows that fans ...
talk about socially, so it's a natural pairing," said Chris Nelson,
CMT's director of social media.
The social media experience also
can serve as an extra link to keep fans engaged in the show, driving
ratings that, in turn, attract advertisers.
"Strong levels of
social engagement, or buzz, are proven to both drive ratings and prolong
interaction," Nelson said. "Plus, it's all about creating a fun, new
experience for viewers, whether that be live-tweeting with artists who
are at the show, seeing one of their own tweets on screen during the
telecast, or simply experiencing social and TV come together in a way
that's exciting and valuable."
Twitter is king
What the festivals showed was that Twitter is the post popular social media channel by far.
Bonnaroo, 91 percent of fans who talked about it online did so on
Twitter, while Facebook engaged 4 percent of the Bonnaroo conversation.
CMA social media skewed heavily toward Twitter, with 95 percent of the
conversations -- about 68,647 Tweets. Facebook earned just 1,979
mentions -- 2.7 percent of the online conversations.
becomes dominant for two reasons, said Blake Killian, director of social
media at Zehnder. Either it's a big event such as the Super Bowl, or
it's a situation where people are out and about with only their mobile
phones. At music festivals, both factors are in play.
social media at the two events can reveal some quirky trends, but those
shouldn't be dismissed. They provide real intelligence, Killian said.
Bonnaroo's most mentioned subjects, for instance: crowd, hippies,
shower, sleep, beer, camping, mud. Top fashion-related mentions: nude
tops the list, followed by bathing suit, costume, tie dye, fanny pack,
bandana, sandals and body art.
Top slang: awesome, followed by dude, sick, killer and dope.
Compare that to the CMA Music Festival. Top slang there: y'all, followed by ain't, honey, ma'am, sugar, yonder and fixin'.
boots topped the list of fashion mentions, followed by cowboy hats,
Daisy Dukes and cowgirl boots. The conversation also centered on
weather, traffic, parking, tailgating and the airport.
"This data can paint a picture for you and tell you something about an event you might otherwise not have known," Killian said.