Why did Twitter react so badly to Florence and the Machine headlining Glastonbury?
Unless you’ve been living under a stone, you’ll be aware that Florence & The Machine have been revealed as replacements for Foo Fighters at this year’s Glastonbury. Taking over the top slot on the Friday night is a big ask for any band – especially when you’re replacing one that is so very well-established, and so very traditionally male.
This maleness may go some way to explain why as part of our social analysis of digital behaviour in the run up to this year’s Glastonbury, we discovered that a staggering 73.7 per cent of the Twitter activity around Florence’s unveiling was negative. Words like “pissed” and “gutted” won out over words like “good” and “happy”.
As with any research of this kind, there are always results that surprise. In the run up to the General Election, for example, we looked at Twitter affinities of the main political parties and discovered a bizarre propensity for SNP Twitter followers to also follow will.i.am. These results though were genuinely shocking.
The reason may well lie in gender analysis. Earlier this week, the Guardian published a great data study of its own which showed how heavily male-skewed all festivals are. The stats revealed that taken as a whole, this year’s British festival line ups are 86 per cent male. Glastonbury itself has an 86 per cent male line up this year – perhaps not a comfortable place for a female star to attempt to headline then.
This preference for male artists is reflected in our analysis of Twitter behaviour in the run up to Glastonbury. We found for example that Twitter-using ticket holders are most likely to be fans of an exclusive cast of male artists which includes Ed Sheeran, James Blunt, Arctic Monkeys, Kanye West, Liam Gallagher and Noel Gallagher.
Over on Facebook however the pattern is slightly different with Lady Gaga breaking into the top four most popular artists for Glastonbury Facebook fans – behind Coldplay, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones.
Also on Facebook we at least saw some female presence during the period 16-18 June when discussions around replacements for Foo Fighters were taking place in earnest. During this period we found that the Stone Roses received the most mentions, followed by Fleetwood Mac and the very female Taylor Swift.
A possible reason for this pattern could be that Glastonbury skews towards the female on Facebook; intriguingly, 52 per cent of the festival’s Facebook fans are female and 48 per cent male.
However, the biggest differences are seen over on female-friendly Instagram where the story is radically different.
Here we find the most popular artists for followers of @glastoofficial to be almost exclusively female. Amongst a top ten list that includes classic female brands like Asos and Topshop, the most popular artist is Jessie Ware (fourth), followed by Paloma Faith (fifth). Florence comes eighth on the list, sandwiched between Urban Outfitters and Selfridges – and beating the only male artist in the top 10, George Ezra (tenth).
So perhaps come Saturday morning Florence would be best to consult Instagram for a friendly assessment of her performance rather than trawling through the famously snarky recesses of Twitter’s darkest corners. Whatever happens, we’ll be keeping a close eye on what social media makes of the festival and will report back with our findings early next week. Stay tuned…
Stuart Aitken is head of content at DigitasLBi
DigitasLBi will be carrying out post-Glastonbury research to be published next week. To find out more about the research and access all the stats so far, click here.