Social media activity in a festival context: temporal and content analysis

Kelly MacKay, Danielle Barbe, Christine Van Winkle, Elizabeth Halpenny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


This study explores the multi-phasic experience of festivals to understand the nature, purpose and degree of social media (SM) use before, during and after festival occurrence and how this may inform better engagement of attendees.

A census of tweets and posts from four festivals’ Twitter handles and Facebook accounts were coded and analyzed across three time points: one week prior, during and one week after the festival. They were coded on nature (e.g. conversational, promotional, informational), purpose (e.g. information-seeking, friendship/relationship) and presence of links, photos, etc. Tests for platform influences on usage were conducted.

In total, 1,169 tweets and 483 posts were captured. Two-thirds of SM activity occurred during the festivals, one-third pre-festival and minimal activity post festival. Temporal analyses found that while the purpose and nature of the message content varied across festival time points, this was often dependent on SM platform.

Research limitations/implications
Festivals are not taking advantage of the multi-phase experience model and the utility of SM to maintain contact and encourage visitors to continue processing their experience after the festival. This lost opportunity has implications for re-patronizing behaviour and sponsor relationships.

Originality value
Leung et al. (2013a) call for sector specific research to elucidate SM use in tourism. Festivals provide a unique environment of co-created experience. Findings suggest differential usage of SM across festival time frames and platforms that can be used to guide festival organizations’ SM communication to better engage its patrons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-689
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


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