Every year, the debate over who’s the artist of the summer is contentious and artists’ ride-or-die fans happily join the conversation. This year, 96.5 (WTDY-FM) Philadelphia, a RADIO.COM pop radio station that’s part of the massive Entercom brand, launched a competitive voting poll so fans could crown a decisive winner.

Online fandoms are notorious for being extremely impassioned groups, and on social media that passion often translates to engagements. When WTDY-FM Philadelphia announced the contest using the hashtag #ArtistOfTheSummer, they unleashed the power of those fan communities, engaging fans of nearly every Top 40 artist and/or group.

Using Sprout’s Social Listening through nine rounds of the competitive voting poll, the radio station wrangled millions of messages, measured their poll results and converted social engagement into growth for each brand platform and touchpoint.

Social listening meets loyal listeners

For the #ArtistOfTheSummer initiative, 96.5 (WTDY-FM) Philadelphia chose 44 artists to kick off the voting. Then, over the course of nine rounds, they used social listening to narrow the field.

To vote on Twitter and Instagram, fans had to tag the radio station’s handle, include an artist’s name and include #ArtistOfTheSummer. Those requirements aligned with the station’s query set up in Sprout’s Social Listening, so all submissions on social were automatically captured. To drive even more fan engagement and expand their social communities, they incentivized Retweets and follows, making them worth additional points toward an artist.

At the end of every weekly round of voting, they used the Conversation Overview table in Sprout to tally the messages received and aggregated by keyword. Every message received and recorded in volume counted as a vote for that Artist in that round.

In addition to filtering results to focus on each artist in the competition, the station’s social team examined the conversation around #ArtistOfTheSummer as a whole, even beyond insights that directly related to their poll. The topic query also aggregated messages and keywords for MTV’s Hottest Summer Superstar competition, which also used a hashtag-based voting system. This is a great example of how brands can use social listening to surface insights about simultaneous, competing events and a shared audience, which in this case is Top 40 fans.

And the winner is…

By the end of the contest, the radio station’s Sprout Listening Topic captured a total of 21.9 million messages shared by over 637,000 unique authors, and the hashtag had trended on Twitter multiple times. Former One Direction member Louis Tomlinson was ultimately crowned the 2020 #ArtistOfTheSummer.

And the station won big as well. During the course of the competitive voting poll, 96.5 (WTDY-FM) Philadelphia gained more than 168,000 new followers on Twitter, garnered more than 17 million engagements on Twitter and Instagram and gained immeasurable insights about their listeners and can fine-tune their content to exactly what their new audience enjoys.

With social listening, 96.5 (WTDY-FM) Philadelphia and Entercom find ways to reach far beyond local markets and gain new fans around the world. And when it comes to choosing the right tool, it’s no competition.

Create, manage and analyze your winning social media strategy with Sprout Social. Request your free demo today!

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