Can Social Media Predict Sundance Film Award Winners?

In about 2 hours, this year’s Sundance Film Festival award winners will be announced. In the past week, there’s been over 35,000 tweets with the #sundance hashtag; more than 40,000 people “talking about” Sundance films on the films’ Facebook page or on the official Sundance Facebook page; 1,300 people have checked in on Foursquare at one of the Park City theatre venues; and nearly 4,000 photos have been tagged #Sundance on Instagram.

Will this social media buzz be any indication of who’s going to win awards tonight? If it is, here’s what we should see:

US Documentary

US Dramatic

World Documentary

World Dramatic

Of course, 17% of awards contenders don’t have a Facebook page or a Twitter account, so it’s much more difficult to track social media mentions of those films. And this is only counting raw activity — nothing about sentiment (what if everyone talking about the film on Facebook is trashing it?); and nothing about geographic dispersion (that’s great if there are 500 people tweeting about your film, but if they’re all in Kansas it’s not going to make much of a difference for audience awards). None the less, I’m curious what the next few hours will reveal. And check back here in a few weeks for a deeper analysis of all the social media data around predicting film sales as well.