Why We Pay Attention to Real-Time Events, Like The Grammys

Hand heart at a concert

Jenny Force Jenny Force, VP of Marketing

Last night the world tuned in to watch one of music’s biggest nights: the 58th Annual Grammy Awards. Celebrating any and everything that happened in the world of music over the past year, it showcased some of the world’s most popular musicians and celebrities.

While a select few got to see the awards show live in person, the majority of us watched it on TV from the comfort of our own homes. What made last night so unique, though: it was the first time the show wasn’t on time delay. Everyone, no matter where they were, got to see it in near real time.

Why is this important? Live events like this, and being part of something big, are a huge reason why people flock to social media; it’s a collective effort to share what they think and feel with countless others as it happens – and something brands should very much pay attention to, especially given today’s demand for real-time marketing and engagement.

Take a look at the volume, for example. Using Sysomos MAP to analyze the talk around the Grammys last night, we can see that yesterday alone, the show was part of almost 6 million conversations.

Sysomos MAP - Overall Activity Around The Grammys

These numbers above represent a full day’s worth of activity because the show was on a lot of people’s minds, but when we looked at the timeline of how those 5.7 million tweets played out, we can see that most people were talking about the event as it happened in real time. The rise in mentions started mid-afternoon, but really took off as the pre-show covered the red carpet arrivals. Activity then spiked again mid-show and dropped off shortly after Pitbull’s closing number.

Sysomos MAP - Twitter Popularity Chart

People enjoy being part of these bigger events. They don’t necessarily do it have a big long conversation about what they’re watching, but rather to be part of something bigger. This was incredibly illustrative when we looked at the engagement levels surrounding tweets from last night. Of the 5.7 million tweets analyzed, 98.3% of them didn’t go past single tweet “conversation.” This most likely means that people are happy to voice their opinion about something, then let it float off into the ether. Only 1.7% of the tweets we found were part of a back-and-forth conversation.

Sysomos MAP - Twitter Engagement Levels Around The Grammys

Brands can still take advantage of this, though. Viewers tend to keep an eye out for what others are saying, and chiming in if someone says something better. While many of the tweets we found weren’t part of back-and-forth conversations, that doesn’t mean that it was just people tweeting on their own. Looking through these same tweets, we found that 73.5% of them were actually retweets – meaning almost three quarters of the conversations were people sharing were what others had already said. And there’s no reason that can’t be something clever driven by you or your brand.

Sysomos MAP - Tweet Mention Types

For example, during last night’s awards, fan-favorite Taylor Swift gave her audience an inside look at what happened when she was back stage and found out her Bad Blood video won an award. This resonated with her fans as it made them feel as though they were there with her, and it quickly became the most retweeted tweet of the night.

For T-Swift fans, this was huge. She sent the tweet in real time as it was happening, which not only made her fans feel like they were part of this larger event of her winning, but gave them a special view of it that they would never usually get to be part of.

So, what were some of the larger moments that brands could have engaged with during the show? A look at our text analytics tools like our buzzgraph and word cloud shows what fans were talking about for most of the night. No surprise to see that the word “performance” stands out in both of these charts, and so do the artists’ names that were part of these performances and “tributes.” By finding a way to align your brand with one of these trending topics and creating some relevant content, like a congratulations or quippy related tweet, it could help your brand become one of those retweeted or reshared pieces of content (you’ll never know if you never try, right?)

Sysomos MAP - Overall Buzzgraph

Sysomos MAP - Overall Word Cloud

What Performances Were Most Popular?

Now we know most of you are curious, so which were the performances that got people talking the most? To find out, we broke it down into two categories: regular performances and tributes (since there were so many recognizing all the great artists we lost in the past year).

When we queried activity surrounding performances, people seemed to talk most about Kendrick Lamar’s powerful piece. People were also talking a lot about Justin Bieber’s performance with Jack Ü (who consists of Skrillex and Diplo). The other thing that stands out is a performance that didn’t actually take place, Rihanna’s (the singer had to cancel at the last minute due to bronchitis, and it appears that through the level of conversation around her, people were upset they didn’t get to see her).

Sysomos MAP - Buzzgraph Around Grammy Performances

Next we looked to see which tribute was the most talked about. While many of them were great, Lady Gaga’s tribute to the late David Bowie stole the show. The buzz around it featured words like “perfect” and “epic” and that she “slayed” it.

Sysomos MAP - Buzzgraph Around Grammy Tribute Performances










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