A Student’s Perspective: Reflecting on the 54th GRAMMY Awards

Nikhita Venugopa is a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism. She is one of ten students providing on the ground coverage of SMWNYC- all from the student’s perspective. She is providing her report from Reflecting on the 54th GRAMMY Awards.

The 54th Annual Grammy Awards, held on Feb. 12, 2012, was massively successful on a broadcast platform and in social media, drawing over 3.9 million mentions of their twitter handles. On Wednesday, Day 3 of Social Media Week in New York, Beverly Jackson, a member of the Grammy team talked about the Social, Digital and Mobile initiatives that went into the award show, a record-breaking feat that overtook this year’s Super Bowl numbers.

“We wanted people to be engaged and connected,” said Jackson, speaking at the Hearst Magazine Arts and Culture Hub.

This year’s Grammy Awards didn’t just have a strong presence on Twitter and Facebook, but they were also on Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube and Spotify to name a few. In some songs of the show, you could even use “Shazam,” an app that can listen to a song that’s playing and find it for you, said Jackson. “We wanted to be on every platform that was talking about music,” she said.

Jackson reflected on the previous year’s socialization of the Grammys and their change in strategy since 2009. For the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, the team just “pushed out tweets” without responding to social media comments, said Jackson. This year, they adopted an “interactive and organic” plan, replying to users and encouraging people to use the Grammy hash-tag.

As a result, the Grammy Awards are the number one social TV event, as reported by Mashable, with 13 million social media comments. The buzz peaked at over 65,000 tweets per second during the airing of the live broadcast.

In her presentation, Jackson maintained that they wanted to recognize importance of social media to the music industry. She talked about a new program for bloggers who were experts in a particular genre of music and would respond to tweets and social media comments. So an expert on Americana music could respond to a tweet about the importance of Glenn Campbell’s performance at the Grammys, she explained. Another event organized by Jackson and her team for the Grammy Awards was the 3rd annual Social Media Rock Star Summit that celebrates the influence of social media on the music world and vice-versa. This year’s summit featured the CEOs of Topspin Media, GetGlue, Shazam, and Turntable.fm.

The death of six-time Grammy award winner Whitney Houston was a widely discussed subject on several social media platforms. Jackson said during Jennifer Hudson’s tribute to the singer at the Grammy Awards, the Twitter traffic almost stopped.

“People were putting their keyboards down and sitting back instead of sitting forward,” said Jackson. She believes it was social media’s way of paying respect to Houston.

Jackson ended her talk by commenting on how viewers were not only tuned into the show, but they were also interacting. “It was important to us that people were engaged,” she said.


Nikhita Venugopal grew up in Bangalore, India. She moved to New York in July 2011 to attend Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where she is currently pursuing a master’s degree. Nikhita studied Media and Communications, Psychology and Literature in India and has interned at Ogilvy as a copywriter and Macmillan Publishers as an editor. You can follow her on Twitter at @niks_90.