I was planning to enjoy a few months as a professional triathlete — well, that’s what my wife calls my vacation from work — but a little issue somewhere in the left glute / piriformis / hamstring has curtailed my running, so I find myself back in the world of social analytics, but totally for fun. And what’s more fun than finals season on “American Idol” and “The Voice”?
I’m often asked about (and asked to speak about) the predictive power of social media analysis, and I always tell people it’s more of an art than a science. Also, the predictive power of social media numbers varies according to what you’re trying to predict. Events that are rooted in popularity, though, correlate pretty well with numbers you see in social media, and that’s especially true where the events have a voting system that isn’t just one person, one vote (like political elections). Hence, televised singing contests where the audience votes.
We’re well into “Idol” right now — we’re down to the Top 3, one of whom gets booted this week, and next week is the finale — so I’ve decided to take a look instead at “The Voice,” which is several weeks away from its finale and still has, as of this writing, 16 contestants. Tonight, four will go home — one from each judge’s team. The way the process is supposed to work, the top two vote getters on each of the four teams advance, and then each judge gets to choose among his/her bottom two for who advances and who goes home. Therefore, audience votes get you in the top two, but then it’s up to the judges — not the best scenario for showcasing predictive power of social media.
Nevertheless, let’s look at the data we have. First, the contestants, their Twitter handles, their current follower count, and their Klout score:
Certain contestants “punch above their weight” when you compare their Klout score to their follower count; Klout’s metrics are proprietary but place a greater emphasis on engagement (e.g., replies, retweets, etc.) vs. pure potential audience size.
Just as a comparison point, we if we look at the three remaining contestants on “Idol,” we see the following:
So even if “The Voice” is beating “Idol” in the ratings, the “Idol” contestants have a greater social media presence by several measures than do the “Voice” contestants. An interesting side note: all “Idol” finalists — including the ones that have long since gone home, have “verified” accounts on Twitter (meaning that Twitter considers them celebrities), whereas none of the “Voice” contestants do. This suggests to me that a deal was brokered between the “Idol” producers and Twitter.
Then we have actual buzz on social media. In my Attensity Media account, I set up a “Voice” topic and also created specific “entities” for all of the contestants that conflated their names, Twitter handles and hashtags so that I could get their counts in one place. I did set this up pretty late on Monday, after the show had aired in prime time, so the “Team Adam” and “Team Usher” contestants (who performed that evening) will have lower numbers than the “Team Blake” and “Team Shakira” contestants, who performed last night. Anyway, here’s what the live dashboard looks like:
So what do we have? We can compare two sets of numbers: general social media popularity and current week’s “buzz,” keeping in mind the grouping by judge. If we do that, we get:
Again, the buzz numbers are artificially low for Team Adam and Team Usher contestants since I set up the topic late. There’s also the judges’ discretion in which of the bottom two vote-getters each judge decides to eliminate. That said, we’ll see tonight how predictive the social numbers are. Enjoy the show!