As a music enthusiast and an American living abroad for the summer, one of the most exciting prospects of my time in Ireland was getting to experience the music scene firsthand. Having been to quite a few music festivals in the States (most recently the Florida Music Festival, ULTRA, and Shaky Knees), it was a relief to not have to worry about going through withdrawal while away from home. I’d heard much about the incredible culture of independent music that exists in Ireland, and with Dublin being famously home to plenty of musicians I’ve always admired — from the Dubliners and Thin Lizzy to Sinead O’Connor and U2 — there was already a high standard in place regarding my expectations of the city. And sure enough, even before my plane touched down (I was seated next to some very trendy locals) I started hearing discussion of the wide variety of festivals going on throughout the country this summer.
— IMAGE.ie (@IMAGEie) June 21, 2015
Most recent on this list of musical events was the Body&Soul Festival. From Friday to Sunday, June 19th – 21st, thousands of people gathered in Co. Westmeath for the event. Over 45 bands and musical artists performed, and the grounds and walled gardens of Ballinlough Castle were flooded with stages, art installations, food and trade vendors, and performers of all crafts and creeds. In the weeks leading up to it and during the weekend of the festival, attendees, performers, and sponsors alike took to Twitter and Instagram to share, discuss, and celebrate the occasion. At Olytico, we monitored #bodysoul15 and similar hashtags to understand how Ireland and beyond talked about the event.
We started to track #bodysoul15 on June 19th, the day the festivities officially began. By then, the conversation was of course in full swing, and the excitement was palpable throughout Twitter. We analysed 2,700 tweets, published by a total of 1,400 accounts. Collectively, the tweets generated over 11.2 million potential impressions.
Tracking the event
Tracking the event was made slightly more complicated by the popular use of multiple hashtags to document the festival. The official festival hashtag (#BodySoul15) was used less than half as often as an unofficial contender. The top hashtag was actually #BodyandSoul, found in over 27% of tweets (777). The hashtag for the event coined and used by the official Body&Soul account, #bodysoul15, came in second with 13% (373), and a third hashtag, #BodyandSoul15, came in at a little over 3% (93).
The popularity of the #BodyandSoul hashtag can be linked to the influence of those who used it. Aside from the official Body&Soul account, the top three contributing Twitter handles to coverage of the event (ranked by impressions) were radio stations: Today FM (1,088,121 impressions), Beat 102 103 (409,461), and iRadio (365,395). All three used the hashtag #BodyandSoul.
— Today FM (@TodayFM) June 20, 2015
The value (and follower count) of kindness
The top tweet was, surprisingly, not related to music or festival events at all. It did not even come from a top contributor in Twitter response to the event. It was a rallying call for help from festival attendee Keith Anthony, who was trying to return a woman’s wallet. Although the largest contributing account, Today FM, has a follower number that outstrips Anthony’s by 135,781, the small act of kindness still won out with 73 retweets and a happy ending.
It just goes to show it’s not the number of followers, but what you do with them that counts.
What did people tweet?
The word cloud contains the Top 100 terms found in the 2,700 tweets analysed. The larger the word, the more often it appeared. Some of the key findings included:
Positivity surrounding the event is clear — with words such as great (105 tweets), amazing (92), love (70), and fun (65) appearing prominently.
There was significant conversation from and surrounding the festival’s sponsors and their events, as demonstrated by the frequent appearance of Absolut Vodka’s hashtag #absolutnights (87 tweets) and Vodafone’s #CentreStage (62), and the prominence of the Absolut (80) and Vodafone (90) twitter handles.
King Kong Company was the most mentioned performer (36 tweets).
A competing music festival that went on in Ireland on the same weekend, Sea Sessions (36 tweets), also featured prominently in Twitter conversation surrounding Body&Soul. The sentiment was largely positive in tweets that mentioned both events, and each festival sold out.
— Finian Murphy (@finianmurphy) June 21, 2015
Together with Twitter, Instagram allowed fans at the festival to share photographs and videos of their experiences. Again, multiple hashtags were used, and Olytico has analysed three of the most prominent – #BodySoul15, #BodyandSoul15 and #BodyAndSoul to look at the numbers behind the images.
In contrast with Twitter, where the daily volume peaked on Saturday, it was Monday that saw the biggest spike in Instagram content, as people went back through their photographs and applied filters.
#BodySoul15 – 430 posts
115 unique publishers.
Most popular image – Savages (379 Likes)
#BodyAndSoul15 – 410 posts
121 unique publishers.
Most popular image – Aisling Lauder (204 Likes)
#BodyAndSoul – 1,000+ posts
615 unique publishers.
Most popular image – Leanne Woodfull (1,909 Likes)
The impact of social media on a festival can play a significant role for attendees, performers, vendors, and sponsors alike. Whether it be a platform for discussion, promotion, or celebration, it allows people to share experiences with their followers. Although the Body&Soul Festival was a relatively small event, capping their sales at 10,000 tickets, it still managed to generate thousands of tweets, and millions of impressions. Music is something that exists to be experienced, and platforms like Twitter and Instagram allow attendees and performers at festivals like Body&Soul to share their experiences in real time. Even without one universal hashtag, time and thoughts are memorialised to look back upon in fond memory — at least until next year’s festival.