Not only did people tune into Sunday night Grammys telecast, they created a record number of social media comments about the event.
The telecast, as well as the 3 hours preceding and following the telecast, generated 13.0 million comments from U.S Facebook and Twitter users, according to Bluefin Labs, a social analytics company that tracks social media engagement related to broadcast TV. Bluefin clients - advertising agencies, TV networks, brands - use its data for insights into consumer engagement with TV shows.
The previous social TV record, as tracked by Bluefin Labs, was 12.2 million social media comments. "This just speaks to how much consumers are more and more having a natural reaction and natural habit of tweeting and Facebook posting while they watch TV," says Tom Thai, VP Marketing and Business Development at the Bluefin Labs. Whitney Houston Tributes, Adele Push Grammys to Best Ratings Since 1984Whitney Houston Tributes, Adele Push Grammys to Best Ratings Since 1984
Numbers provided to Billboard.biz from Trendrr, another social TV tracker, had the Grammys slightly behind the Super Bowl by a margin of 17.49 million to 17.12 million. Trendrr put Sunday's Grammys well ahead of previous music events such as the MTV Music Video Awards (2.9 million), BET Hip Hop Awards (1.5 million) and the Latin Grammy Awards (1.1 million).
But data from Bluefin Labs and Trendrr agree when it comes to the tremendous growth in social TV over the last year. Bluefin Labs puts the year-over-year increase in Grammy-related social media activity at 2,280% while Trendrr puts it at 495%. Figures from both services were about the same regarding the Grammys' gain over the 2011 MTV Video Awards - 76.2% for Bluefin Labs and 67.5% for Trendrr.
Chris Brown set a peak early in the telecast 453,000 social media comments in a 5-minute span during his performance, according to Bluefin Labs' numbers. Brown's peak held until Adele spurred 489,000 comments in a 5-minute span when she won Album of the Year near the end of the telecast. Adele's performance of "Rolling in the Deep" was the third-highest peak of activity, followed by Jennifer Hudson's tribute to Whitney Houston with a performance of "I Will Always Love You."
Part of the growth in social commentary can be attributed to this year's strong TV ratings. This year's telecast reached 39 million viewers, the second-highest viewership ever and the most since 1984. The 14.1 rating for the 18-49 demographic was up 41% from last year's telecast.
Growth has also happened organically. The number of monthly U.S. Facebook users grew 5.5% to 162.5 million in December 2011 from 153.9 million in December 2010, according to comScore.
And some growth can be attributed to efforts to engage fans. This year Twitter enlisted the help of 25 artists to tweet about the Grammys from home. These "couch commentators" included R&B artist Jason Derulo (@jasonderulo), DJ Steve Aoki (@steveaoki), indie rock music musician St. Vincent (@st_vincent) and YouTube sensations Karmin (@karminmusic). Many were on the West Coast and tweeted along with the delayed Pacific time zone broadcast. Another 4 artists - Katy Perry (@katyperry), Coldplay (@coldplay), David Guetta (@davidguetta) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith (@rhcpchad) - tweeted from the event.
But growth in consumer behavior involving social media and TV is clearly outstripping the growth in social media platforms. Just as the Grammys topped the Super Bowl, social media activity surrounding the Academy Awards telecast on February 26 could very well eclipse the Grammys. Last year's Academy Awards resulted in 966,000 social media comments, according to Bluefin Labs, a number bested later in the year by the MTV Video Music Awards (3.1 million) in August and the American Music Awards (2.4 million) in November.