How the Grammys Rocked the Twitterverse

Twitter was on fire at Sunday’s Grammys — until Jennifer Hudson took the stage.

The velocity of tweets during the live broadcast peaked at 10,901 tweets per second, according to Twitter, just a few thousand below the Super Bowl’s new record of 12,233 tweets per second during the big game. But the buzz was silenced during Ms. Hudson’s tribute to Whitney Houston.

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson

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“Once Jennifer hit the stage, all traffic came to a complete stop. People stopped talking and they listened,” said Beverly Jackson, director of marketing and social media for the Recording Academy, at a Social Media Week panel Wednesday in New York. Talk around the tribute, she added, while diverse, was mostly positive, with 81% favorable sentiment. Social-marketing company Mass Relevance helped tally the numbers.

Following Ms. Hudson’s performance, engagement ramped back up and capped at 3.9 million explicit #Grammy mentions. The broadcast probably got a viewer boost because of Ms. Houston’s untimely death, but the night belonged to Adele, who dominated Grammy wins (six) and the conversation with 2.5 million mentions — 500% more than any other artist, said Ms. Jackson. (Rihanna, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj and Ms. Houston round out the top five.)

A strong social-media presence leading up to the awards helped the Recording Academy pull off a success. Working with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Google and more, the Grammy team implemented a strategy that targeted viewers’ favorite online destinations. “We wanted to be everywhere they were,” said Ms. Jackson. This was the first year the Grammys worked with both Pandora and Shazam, which let viewers tag music from performances. Pandora noted that there have been 4 million Adele stations created since the singer’s throat surgery last year to her return at the Grammys.

Grammy Live, an extension of Grammy.com, gave viewers videos of red-carpet and backstage footage and untelevised acceptance speeches. The Grammy iPad app became the top arts and entertainment app, proving viewers were more engaged with the show via their tablet this year, according to Ms. Jackson.

The Grammys doesn’t pay for Facebook ads or promotional tweets; instead, several contests and promotional events help build excitement. Referring to the Grammys’ online presence, Ms. Jackson likened it to “a brown egg in Whole Foods — it’s all organic.”

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