Social Media Listening & Food Festivals: Analysis of the First Annual Harlem EatUp!

The first annual Harlem EatUp! Festival was held from May 14th through May 17th, 2015. The four-day event celebrated the food, music, art, and culture of Harlem. The event was created by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson and event planner Herb Karlitz. Former president Bill Clinton spoke during the launch.

The festival used social media as part of a strategy to build awareness and get people excited. Considering Harlem EatUp! started this year, we decided to analyze the conversation around it in order to show how social media listening can not only benefit brands and agencies, but also event planners. From March 14th (two months before the festival kicked off) until May 25th, there were over 7,200 posts on Twitter related to the festival. Looking at Harlem EatUp!’s Twitter handle, we can see that their number of followers increased by 44% over the same time period.
The sentiment expressed toward the festival by users on social media was extremely positive. We found the festival’s conversation to be 33% positive and less than 1% negative. The remaining 66% of the conversation was made up of news sharing about the festival, lifecasting, and general neutral conversation. This suggests that Harlem EatUp! was very well received and that consumers had almost no complaints about the organization, food, and other components of the festival.
We found the most retweeted Tweet within the festival’s conversation to be a Tweet by Neil Patrick Harris. Considering the festival’s newness, the fact that a personality like Neil Patrick Harris has already engaged with the event and created awareness over social media could translate into a possible partnership between the festival and Harris for next year’s Harlem EatUp!. 

Looking at the second most retweeted Tweet within the festival’s conversation, another opportunity for Harlem EatUp! pops up. The Tweet came from the MoMa’s Twitter handle and promoted their Jacob Lawrence-inspired Harlem Walking Tour. Harlem EatUp! could potentially partner with the MoMa and offer ticket discounts or giveaways to those who attend the Harlem Walking Tour, or vice versa.

By analyzing the hashtags and Twitter handles associated with the festival, we can get a sense of which words resonate with their target audience and which particular participants/sponsors were creating the most awareness. We found that the most frequently mentioned hashtag was #harlemeatup, which was used in more than 2,300 posts. Other widely used hashtags were #harlem, #nyc, #food, #wine, and #dinein. The most frequently mentioned Twitter handles within the festival’s conversation were: @harlemeatup (mentioned in over 4,500 posts), @marcuscooks (mentioned in over 1,100 posts), @streetbirdnyc (mentioned in over 270 posts), @citi (mentioned in over 200 posts), @conantnyc (mentioned in over 170 posts), and @bordeauxwines (mentioned in over 160 posts).
Lastly, we also looked into the demographics and interests of those talking about the event. In terms of age, we found 82% of the users to be 35 years old or above. This suggests that Harlem EatUp! should focus on reaching and engaging a younger audience next year. Using our Affinities™ platform, we found that those engaged with the festival on social media are 872 times more interested in wineries and 698 times more interested in french food than the average Twitter user. They are also 383 times more interested in Food Network, 259 times more interested in Top Chef, 69 times more interested in philanthropy, 40 times more interested in hotels and resorts, and 15 times more interested in fine arts than the average Twitter user.
By analyzing the social media conversation around the event as well as the demographics and interests of those talking, Harlem EatUp! -or any similar festival- can shape better informed marketing strategies in the future. Social media listening allows the planners of these events to get a fuller picture of what their target audience values and what type of messaging sparks their interest. For example, Harlem EatUp! could create advertisements featuring french food or mentioning the beneficiaries of the festival next year, since we know this will resonate with potential festival goers. Finally, social media listening also allows event planners to understand how they performed and how people feel about the event, helping them to continuously improve and attract more customers

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