What Did We Learn from This Week’s “The Voice”?

Yesterday I looked at a number of different cuts of social media data and found a number of candidates for the Bottom 2 on “The Voice.” The interesting thing about the actual results was that none of the data I had access to correlated with the outcome, at least in a discernable pattern that you could build any sort of rule or model off of. I could try using a stats tool like R to find non-intuitive features that better predict an outcome, but that is probably like using a bulldozer to pound in a nail — there aren’t enough samples to make that approach meaningful. So I’m left with hypotheses:

  • Twitter isn’t a good proxy for voting behavior in the case of this show due to either a demographic skew or to the fact that the audience gravitates in general to other channels of interaction.
  • I haven’t found the right features yet. I used growth in Twitter followers as one potential proxy for “momentum,” and that correlated with one of the results — Vedo had by far the lowest percentage growth in followers week to week (he started of course with the highest number, so it gets harder to maintain the same growth rate), but in the case of the other ousted contestant, Garrett Gardner, we saw the highest percentage growth in followers, so that piece of data doesn’t correlate at all. Garrett, in fact, by any of the numbers I had access to or derived, should still be on the show. (Though I personally found his vocal performance on Monday weak, despite an interesting arrangement.)
  • The vote tallies among the bottom half of the contestants are actually fairly close (which the counts I had showed as well), so until we get to a point where we see either much greater volume or much greater differences between contestants, the best we’re going to do is random guesses over a larger pool of contestants with similar numbers. In other words, absolute rankings don’t work until you start to see larger gaps.

One thing is for sure — pure follower count is meaningless in this show (as it was in last week’s “American Idol”). A lesson for all who use follower count as a proxy for influence.

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