Focus on...Clément Bert-Erboul and the #festival project

on the April 15, 2021

Clément Bert-Erboul was a post-doctoral researcher at the Grenoble Alpes Data Institute in 2018-2019. He is specialized in online community studies and practices web scraping to collect online data for social science research. He was mainly working with Gilles Bastin on analyzing journalist careers on LinkedIn, and with Jean Finez and the ECO-INTIME team. He was also working on the #festival project to map the professional logic of online music criticism in France.

During the summer 2018, Jean-Marc Francony collected data on Twitter about 16 music festivals. He collected 223 712 tweets from 90 000 different accounts that mentioned the name of the festival or its hashtags. Then, Gilles Bastin and Clément Bert-Erboul have studied the network of messages shared on the social network microblogging platform. The main concern of the research was to understand the role of journalists as news providers in competition with other actors of social media such as amateurs.

In theory, the social media platforms provide free access expression area, open to everyone. However, the media practitioners and the dedicated academic literature state that Twitter is highly used by journalists in France. But, this historical presence does not mean a monopoly of information spread, and other stakeholders are sharing contents on Twitter. The scientific issue was to see if journalists were beaten on their own playground by music amateurs. Questioning the authority of the different types of Twitter accounts during music festival reveals an online hierarchy framing the spread of discourses on the social media.


The research was based on quantitative methods treating data sample from the Twitter API. This methodology gave opportunity to investigate a phenomenon at a large scale that no other methodology would catch due to the volume of tweets produced during music events.
First, the team determined how to evaluate authority. To do so, they distinguished four types of Twitter messages: the classical tweet holding an original message text or image, the retweet (RT) redistributing an original tweet from a receiver, the mention (@) naming specific account and the reply (RE), answering specifically to an original tweet. They focused on mentions, counting the time a user is mentioned asses his/her authority, acknowledged by the users following the same event on Twitter.
Then, they determined the categories of users behind the Twitter accounts. Gilles Bastin and Clément Bert-Erboul decided to work only on the accounts that wrote the majority of tweets. Filtering this way, 80 % of messages are written by the 400 to 500 most active accounts. A tag category (such as media, journalist, amateur, musician, corporate, etc.) was applied to all those accounts. After the sample has been cleaned by hand, the statistical analysis has been done with the R and Gephi software.
Finally, they shaped the data to create the mentions’ network. In the network (see figure 1), the dots are the Twitter accounts and the edges represent the messages with a mention.

Each time a user refers to another one, a link is created following the direction of the name dropping. Colors are characterizing the type of music festival evocated in the message.

Another color range (see figure 2) concerns the user category. Finally, the specialization of the pro les has been done by putting together the pro le mentioning the same pro les. At the end the network visualization gives an overview of online mentions.



The mapping first shows festivals official accounts attract a lot of people.
Some festivals are also connected by users who are mentioned in different events, especially jazz and classical music festivals. Second, the tweets volume is very different from an event to another. A lot of messages are written concerning pop-rock festivals compared to jazz and classic festivals (see figure 1).
This centralization of mentions network around specific events category highlights the importance of institutional communication on social media. The social media network has a strong structure shape by institutional accounts from festival organizers, media corporation, and sponsors. Regarding the research question, as far as authority is concerned, journalists are more challenged by institutional accounts than by amateurs.
The official accounts of the festivals seem indeed to be the most important source of authority on this digital scene. Clément Bert-Erboul shows that Twitter is  now strongly invested  by institutional  communication. If compared to amateurs and influencers, journalists still enjoy a higher authority. Thus claims that amateurs would soon replace journalists in digital media world does not seem to be sustained by the data.//


Published on April 16, 2021