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Volume 20 No. 46
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Research shows social media moves tickets

Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have shown themselves to be as much as three times more effective in selling tickets than traditional marketing platforms, according to new research from Ticketmaster’s LiveAnalytics research arm.

The data support anecdotal evidence and conventional wisdom, in which ticket purchase-related posts from friends and colleagues on social media were thought to be powerful inducements. The new study, conducted late last year involving surveys from nearly 8,000 U.S. and Canadian buyers of tickets through Ticketmaster, offers the first formal look into the trend since the ticketing giant formed LiveAnalytics in early 2011.

LiveAnalytics’ research tracks the effects of Facebook and Twitter on ticket buyers.
For sporting events, the research showed that 14 percent of ticket buyers were influenced to attend an event by a Facebook post, 20 percent used social media to invite friends to attend games with them, and 47 percent were interested in seeing where their Facebook friends were sitting at an event. Forty-nine percent of attendees of sports events used social media to discuss their experience and post videos and photos.

“This provides some confirmation of what we’re seeing in the market,” said John Forese, LiveAnalytics senior vice president and general manager. “Our clients are searching for any and all best practices in this space, and we’re all still figuring out what’s important.”

Ticketmaster provides the ability to share seat locations and purchases through Twitter and Facebook, including a partnership with the latter in which users can see where friends are sitting on an interactive map.

Also standing out in the LiveAnalytics research: Though social media usage related to ticketing predictably skewed much younger than ticket buyers overall, average incomes were similar. The average household income for customers in the study who bought tickets through social media links was $85,000 a year, compared with $83,000 for all ticket buyers. Additionally, ticket buyers using social media links generally bought their seats earlier relative to the event date, and spent substantially more per ticket, with an average ticket price of $82 for social media purchasers compared with $51 for all buyers.

Still, social media usage indicators in sports ticketing lagged behind concerts in nearly every instance. In particular, 30 percent of concert ticket buyers were influenced by Facebook posts and 30 percent used social media to invite friends to concerts.

There are several theories on what’s driving the higher social media interaction with concerts. Games are perishable, unique commodities, while concerts feature generally the same show as specific tours travel from city to city. Because of that, social media activity surrounding a concert in, for example, Philadelphia has been shown to help drive ticket sales for a subsequent tour stop in New York. Such a dynamic isn’t as prevalent in sports. Also, sports receives extensive amounts of local and national media attention each day, reducing the need for the awareness that social media can provide.

“With concerts, many times a purchaser didn’t even know right away that a show was happening in their town,” Forese said. “So at least for now, we’re seeing concerts as certainly the most social segment, and where you see the most domino effect in terms of one purchase influencing another.”

There was much more equity in the use of location-based social media platforms such as Foursquare. LiveAnalytics said that 16 percent of both sports and concert ticket buyers use their mobile phone to check in to a location-based platform at the event.