As a fan of The Eurovision Song Contest and the 2015 edition’s quickly approaching show, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about Eurovision’s social media presence and how they have popularized the contest outside of Europe with their use of social media.
What is it?
Before delving into the actual social media presence of Eurovision, I’ll briefly explain it all to us clueless Americans (and the one European in the class who already knows all of this). Essentially, it is a song contest in which each “European” (they use the term European very loosely: Australia is competing this year…) country submits a song to be performed in a grand show that is broadcast all over the world. The public votes on their favorites and a “professional” jury from each competing country evaluates the performances. The countries receive points based on the above criteria and the country with the most points wins and gets to host the contest for the next year. It started in 1956 as a way to ease the tension over war torn Europe and now has become a staple of the European broadcast schedule. It is insanely popular and one of the most watched events of the year in Europe and is gaining immense popularity around the world. It is also known for its controversies, political statements, flamboyance and craziness- so those are all fun too. This year, the contest is being held in Vienna, Austria after Europe’s favorite bearded drag queen, Conchita Wurst, won in 2014 for Austria.
Probably Eurovision’s largest social media presence takes place on YouTube. They have over 1 billion views and over half a million subscribers. Each year, they upload videos of each of the county’s songs, music videos and live performances from the show. Furthermore, they have videos in which you can meet each of the country’s representatives and learn more about them. This is actually a crucial part of the contest and proved to be instrumental in some victories of the past. This also works as a way for non-Europeans to keep up to date with the latest happenings of the contest. The show is not broadcast in the USA, and many American fans rely on the YouTube channel for videos of the performances and the outrageous activities that take place throughout the contest. Of course, YouTube allows for comments and this naturally evolves into flame wars over the best song in the contest and defending one’s own country is pretty common, despite how bad their song for that year is. It’s always a fun time on YouTube!
Naturally, the folks at Eurovision have invested in a Twitter account that they use to update fans on the latest happenings of the event. They also tend to tweet fun facts about the contest as well as random tidbits about the contestants, in an attempt to entice the future viewers of the contest. Like YouTube, Twitter becomes a place for controversy and arguments all in a place that everyone can see! However, the actual contestants of the contest take to Twitter to voice their opinions, which is just a delicious trainwreck waiting to happen. Last year, Armenia’s representative made a derogatory tweet towards Austria’s entry about being a drag queen. Before this tweet, Armenia were the favorites to win that year and this essentially destroyed any chances they had at winning. Russia also commonly takes to Twitter to promote their songs. Naturally, Russia always sends a power ballad about how the world needs to get along and people need to accept each other for their differences. Okay, Russia. Ukraine is not competing this year due to “financial” issues, but many Ukrainians still take to Twitter to support their favorite entries for this year (P.S. It’s not Russia). Italy went on a ten year hiatus because they pretty much thought they were too good for the show that some consider to be a mess. Anyways, they came back a few years ago and the social media presence of the contest served as a reason for their return, so yay. Finally, Turkey has been protesting the contest after being long time competitors. They even went as far as to make their own version of the contest that only allowed countries and regions that speak a Turkic language to compete. Surprisingly, it was not a huge success and they took to social media and Twitter to announce that they are returning for the 2016 edition. As with most events, Twitter serves as a launching pad for discussion revolving around the event and also has its fair share of controversy associated with it. Moreover, it works as a great marketing tool for the people at Eurovision to promote the contest to the rest of the world.
So, Eurovision’s main social media uses are on YouTube and Twitter. It helps in making a formerly exclusively European contest into a now global one that has fans all over the world. This social media presence is continuing into this year as people are making it known how they feel about each of the entries. Finland’s entry in particular has caused a lot of social media controversy this year. There are also “bookies” that predict the winner of the contest and people also voice their opinions regarding the predicted winner of the contest. Apparently, Estonia, Italy and Sweden are this year’s favorites to win. Now, here is a video of all 40 countries that are taking part in this years’ contest and brief moment from each song. Pick your favorite! (P.S. Turkey, Croatia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Monaco and Andorra are not competing this year…I’m sure everyone is really disappointed).