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How Twitter helped save an iconic London venue

One of the best things about communities on Twitter is how they are there when you need them most. Music venue The Social was under threat, then came a tweet...

How Twitter helped save an iconic London venue

The Social is a compact music bar on central London’s Little Portland Street. It’s a small but much-loved space where live music breathes and thrives. It’s a place that makes memories, realises dreams and uncovers new music talents and fans. 

The Social opened in 1999 and became one of the capital’s most important venues. But when it posted earlier this year that money problems might force it to close, a whole community faced heartbreak. 

The venue needed £95,000 to buy a controlling lease from a shareholder. The shareholder had received an offer to turn the place into a cocktail bar chain. Cocktails and closure. Bleak times. 

So the Social turned to Twitter. The owners sent a Tweet – and Twitter’s vibrant music community responded. But time to turn things around was limited: two weeks to raise funds… or cocktails. 

The Social, social media and salvation
Bands, DJs and music lovers got behind a #SaveTheSocial crowdfunding campaign. Artists such as The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Beth Orton, Vampire Weekend and Bon Iver among many others who had appeared on its small basement stage, supported the crowdfunding pledge on Twitter. 

And it wasn’t only musicians – columnists such as Caitlin Moran Tweeted about the good times they’d spent at the club. Soon pure music fans were pledging. 

From that first Tweet, it took just a week to secure the venue’s future explains programme manager Carl Gosling: "We didn’t think that a week later, we were going to have raised the amount that we were asking for. It just had a life of its own. I lost track of the amount of people Tweeting about it and Retweets and publications using it to get the story out."

Robin Turner, co-founder of The Social, added: "We found that people felt the same way we felt – that the bar is something good and it shouldn’t go. And so thankfully we had a few people with large reaches pick it up."

Gosling added: "It was astounding how quickly things happened, how quickly we raised the money and the amount of love that seems to be out there online and people coming in and buying a pint. That matters more than anything."

To top it all off, the venue celebrated its victory with a special show featuring a number of those leading artists, thanking fans for support. 

Twitter breaks up the music community
This success story is an example of how powerful the music community is on Twitter. Twitter’s recent research project (2) explored what drives Twitter users in the UK. The study uncovered the communities that thrive and drive conversation. 

The study (1), using a combination of cutting-edge data-science analysis and traditional market research, identified 75 sub-communities. It examined each to find out what motivates the groups as a whole and how brands can best engage. 

The music community on Twitter is vast and interconnected. It brings together people who meet at the intersection of cultures such as music and fashion. Alongside this, smaller, close-knit groups like ‘sound production’ – a network of music professionals – connect too. Music Twitter is also the place where musos talk, featuring every genre from country to grime, via jazz and heavy metal.

The research identified several groups that make up the music community. These include: 

  1. Pop Culture the #Switfies, #Mixers, the stans who come together to geek out about their favourite bands 

  2. Discover New Artists and Bands the ones gather around ‎#NewMusicFriday to share first impressions of new music  

  3. Music Makers made up of professional and amateur musicians who use Twitter to help further their music career

Three ways brands can get in tune with music lovers on Twitter

The music community on Twitter is positive about brands getting involved. These are the best ways to interact:

1. Support grassroots talent
Most of all, people want brands to help aspiring musicians, acts and local gig venues. People realise this support is vital if they want to continue to enjoy and discovering up-and-coming talent, and going to local gigs.

2. Discovery and access online
People want to continue to use Twitter to discover new artists, find out about upcoming gigs, and to access live music online.

3. Use music as a vehicle for change
There is a clear desire for brands to use music as a vehicle to drive wider social and environmental good such as powering stages with eco-technologies, or children’s community projects. Twitter is the perfect platform for brands to engage music fans to make this happen as @SmirnoffEurope has done with its #EqualisingMusic campaign.

Sources | 1. Jaywing, Join The Dots and Twitter, 'Flocks - Uncovering communities on Twitter', June 2019, UK 2. To conduct the research, Twitter partnered with data-science agency Jaywing (‎@jaywingsays) and insight agency Join the Dots (‎@WeJoinTheDots) to crunch and analyse the data based on follower graphs and Twitter bios. It combined this work with online diaries from each community, in-depth interviews, cultural analysis, and a quantitative survey (total n=1,500) to ensure the most robust results.

The analysis uncovered the unique roles that Twitter plays within each community and the reasons people engage with their communities. For brands, the research identified what they can do to make sure that when they get involved with these communities, they can be successful.