I was going to see the musician Liz Phair perform in New York City on May 17. I had tickets to see her about a year and half ago, but had to bail at the last minute because I contracted Lyme Disease. This was going to be the exciting do over, where I finally got to watch an artist I’d been wanting to see since I was 21, but you can probably guess the chances of that concert actually happening.
We all have stories like that, of all the concerts and other cultural experiences we were planning on attending over the next few months if only that tiny detail of the coronavirus didn’t ruin every aspect of our lives. However, because I also work for the company with the leading social media analytics tool, I can actually quantify which cultural events people are the most upset about missing out on.
Here are 3 of the most interesting data points the ListenFirst social media analysis tool was able to surface about the cultural events that have been canceled or postponed.
Fact #1: The Coachella Festival Is The Cultural Event Most Missed
Coachella was postponed from April to October on March 10, and the masses were not pleased. Between March 1-18, 2020, Coachella was mentioned in 645,149 Postponed Or Canceled related Tweets, the most for any cultural event during that time period. Additionally, 25% of those Tweets expressed the emotion of Anger which was also the highest such total among the canceled or postponed events we measured.
That said, some of the negativity was around people complaining about other people complaining about Coachella not happening. For instance, there were 209,978 Responses around Twitter user Queerella de Vil calling out Vanessa Hudgens for complaining about Coachella not happening.
That Tweet about Vanessa Hudgens also points out a huge marketing challenge for events like Coachella. Content is going viral talking about Coachella being canceled when at this point, the plan is to still have it just in October. Events like Coachella are going to have to work harder than usual around awareness marketing when rescheduling popular events.
Fact #2: Social Media Expressed The Most Fear Around Disneyland But Not For The Reason You Think
Between March 1-18, 2020 there were 138,908 Tweets mentioning that Disneyland was closing its doors. Sentiment around those Tweets was 64% Negative with 55% of those Tweets expressed the emotion of Fear, the highest such totals among the suspended or closed cultural events or destinations we looked at. So does that mean families are scared that there’s something especially unsafe about bringing their children to Disneyland?
Not exactly. More often, Disneyland was used as a bellwether for safety. For instance there were 452,182 responses around a Tweet from the user MadiMcStud who pointed out “Disneyland: Closed NBA: Postponed MLB: Postponed Schools: Closed Classes: Online Hand Sanitizer: Gone Stock Market: Crashing Everything: Cancelled My work: See you tomorrow.“
For employers whose employees are still coming into work in non-essential roles, we’ve reached the point of that being a public relations disaster and apparently a big part of that tipping point is having Disneyland close.
Fact #3: SXSW Illustrates How Quickly The Public Perception Around The Coronavirus Is Changing
South By Southwest was canceled on March 6 by the city of Austin and is a great example of how the public perception around the threat of the coronavirus has changed over the course of a couple of weeks. There were 132,889 Tweets mentioning SXSW either around getting canceled or postponed between March 1-18, 2020; 68,471 of those Tweets came on March 6, 2020 and it was not a popular decision at the time, with Tweets being 38% Negative and only 10% Positive on the day.
For instance, former MTV VJ Riki Rachtman shared in a Tweet on March 9 that generated 725 responses saying the cancelation of SXSW was “…a unnecessary reaction I don’t believe it’s that bad I think the media and cancellation of events only add to this ridiculous panicked society.” Meanwhile on March 12, there were 236 Responses on a Tweet by reporter Amy Kaufman about her article talking about how David Arquette had his SXSW movie premiere canceled, so he held the premiere at his house. At no point during the accompanying article did it even raise the question if having 50 people jammed closely together in Arquette’s house during a public health crisis was a bad idea.
However, over time the wisdom of SXSW being canceled became more clear on social media. For example, critic Eric D. Snider shared a Tweet on March 13 that got 65 responses expressing; “We were sad and some people doubted the decision to cancel, but can you imagine showing up in Austin today for SXSW?” Or Bethany Lilly on March 18 in a post that generated 141 responses saying, “Wanted to point out that Austin would 100% be a hotspot right now if they have not canceled SXSW. So let’s pour one out for a public health success!“
An important thing to remember about audience sentiment around something as quickly evolving as our current health crisis is decisions that might seem like an overreaction often are accepted as common sense just a few days later. Brands should make the right decisions to preserve the safety of their employees and customers, and even if actions aren’t immediately understood by a vocal minority in the short term. If you clearly communicate the reasoning, odds are that will lift public trust around your cultural event with a little bit more perspective.
Cultural experiences like concerts, theme parks, and conferences aren’t going to re-enter our lives in the immediate future, but they will at some point, and there’s clearly a significant audience hungering for that return to normalcy. Through using a comprehensive social media analytics tool like ListenFirst, marketers can better understand what type of messaging will be most effective both now and for that moment when we’re finally able to hang out in public again.