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The Chelsea Flower Show 2013: Gnomes, Princes and Liam Gallagher


The Daily Express might have accused the Chelsea Flower Show of previously having a reputation for being ‘stuffy’, and when you think ‘gardening’, your next thought perhaps isn’t necessarily ‘Twitter’. However, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, the Royal Horticulture Society seems to be modernising its reputation, and here at Gorkana, we’ve been looking at how the world-famous flower show has been using social media to promote itself in advance of the festival.


Wheelbarrow at Chelsea Flower Show
From the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Facebook page (417 likes, 142 shares)


We started tracking mentions of the event two weeks ago, and you’ll see a huge spike of interest over the weekend just gone:


Chelsea Flower Show mentions on Twitter
Chart created by Gorkana Radar


Specifically, we were able to see how many tweets had been tweeted (blue line) and how many were positive or negative in tone (green and red respectively). Clearly there was a huge spike over the weekend, thanks to the event being on television, with favourable coverage increasing at a greater rate than negative coverage.

What could possibly drive negative mentions at a flower festival? Well, this year The Royal Horticultural Society, organisers of the festival, decided to lift their 100 year ban on gnomes. This decision generated 81 tweets over the fortnight, ranging from wonderfully facetious to downright aggrieved. Some of these tweets included the news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have had gnomes made of them: one @Telegraph link announcing this was re-tweeted 63 times over the fortnight, and, on the basis of ‘who follows who’, we reckon that nearly 600,000 people saw that single tweet. Just in case you were thinking of sleeping easy tonight, here are those gnomes close-up:


Kate and Will gnomes
The royal couple posing with TV gardener David Domoney


From the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Facebook page (258 likes, 131 shares). These little fellas are part of a fundraising auction for the RHS Campaign for School Gardening.


However, Wills and Kate weren’t the only royals to set Twitter on fire. Prince Harry was mentioned in 625 tweets. In fact, we drew a word cloud of everything that happened on Twitter over the last fortnight. Where the size of the text corresponds to the number of mentions of the phrase (more mentions = bigger text), we’ve been able to deduce that Harry is hot for Chelsea (and vice-versa).


Chelsea Flower Show word cloud
Word cloud produced by Gorkana Radar


But wait! Is that Liam Gallagher appearing on that word cloud too? Oasis? NME? Your eyes are not deceiving you! It would seem that Rock Royalty Liam is a huge fan of the show – nearly 500 tweets mentioned his name. In fact, the single most re-tweeted tweet from the fortnight came from @NME (529k followers) announcing his presence at the festival, and was re-tweeted 71 times, not least by DJ Rob da Bank (@RobdaBank, 60k followers). The news of Liam’s love of lilies, lilacs and laburnums made news around the world, with it even featuring in a link posted by the Times of India.

In fact, the Chelsea Flower Show has serious international acclaim. Able to track mentions of the festival globally, by looking at the domains on links, we put together this mentions map:


Chelsea Flower Show around the world
Map created by Gorkana Radar


The US accounted for nearly half of all mentions (tweeting about the event 3794 times) while as far away as Australia, the Crown’s official Twitter feed plugged the event:


The British Monarchy tweet
Tweet sourced by Gorkana Radar


Like many people, I had always assumed that the Chelsea Flower Show was the sort of event that would have a very small Twitter presence. But having been able to track the event over the last fortnight, I’ve been proved very wrong. I’ve been able to see how a celebrity can really drive Twitter coverage, and how, when, why, and who makes things happen on social.


Two men at Chelsea Flower Show
From the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Facebook page (237 likes, 226 shares)


This is one of my favourite images of the Chelsea Flower Show. This might hark back to an earlier stage of the event’s pre-Twitter history, but with 237 likes and 226 shares, it certainly resonates still in the social era.

We used Gorkana Radar, our real-time Social Media Monitoring and Analysis tool, to track mentions of Chelsea Flower Show on Twitter.

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Written by Helen Saunders

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  • http://twitter.com/alisonejarrett Alison E Jarrett

    love it, Helen!

  • Helen Saunders

    Thanks very much! It was a lot of fun to write – especially the picture research!

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