X Factor 2011: Social Media Monitoring Report

X-Factor finally finished last weekend with a grueling 4 hours of full-blown pomp and grandiose ceremony, not to mention 3, then 2 acts battling it out to be crowned this years’ winner. We all knew it was going to be Little Mix didn’t we? Didn’t we?? I thought so, although the official voting figures released by ITV show a much closer-fought contest than what you would have found had you spent hours analysing social media, which is what we’ve been attempting to do all series. ITV had the margin of victory at the final count at around 6% between Marcus & Little Mix. Going by what we were seeing on Twitter, just before the final result was announced, Little Mix had about 68% of the Tweets that said they should win over Marcus, and of course they duly did.

Others have pointed to similar social media indications of Little Mix’s likely success long before Dermot O’ Leary called out their name on Sunday night, and it was interesting seeing how patterns emerged throughout this year’s series if you looked at the online conversation. We monitored and tracked Twitter data around this year’s show during every weekend, and have compiled and graphed the numbers.

Methodology

A quick methodology first; in order to keep the data balanced and accurate week-on-week, when collecting mentions of the contestants and judges, we only looked at tweets containing mentions of ‘XFactor’. So for example, a mention of ‘Janet’ would have to mention XFactor as well. This was to prevent scanning through thousands of tweets each week to find which referred to Janet Devlin and which referred to a multitude of other Janets up and down the country, however percentage shares were usually very similar even when the ‘XFactor’ term was removed. Also the #xfactor hashtag was widely used this year, even being prompted onscreen at the start of each show.

Tweets were analysed over the course of the weekend, taking in the two live shows on Saturday and Sunday, and we included region filters so as to cut out any mentions of the US version of the show.

To get an idea of who would win and be eliminated each week, we looked for tweets that mentioned a contestant in the context of winning or being voted for during Saturday night’s show. This allowed us to calculate a ‘win’ percentage for each contestant after every Saturday show, and the results allowed us to be able to predict the contestant to leave, or at least be in the bottom two on each of the 9 weekends there was a public vote.

Overall X Factor Tweets

It was widely reported this year that viewing figures were down from previous years, and many commentators maintained it was the worst series yet. There was an average of 300,284 tweets-per-weekend that mentioned the X Factor, and while we don’t have data from previous years to compare, it is clear from the graph that interest was mainly stemmed by 3 things – 1) the first live show, which always stokes interest, 2) Frankie Cocozza’s continued survival in the show and eventual replacement with Amelia in Week 6, and 3) the final. It’s noticeable that interest dropped off after Frankie, and then Kitty left the show. They were this year’s main talking points as the next graph shows.

Who got people Tweeting?

Up until Week 6, Frankie and Kitty got the Twittaverse tweeting. They were the reason people tuned in, the acts the public loved to hate. We could tune in, marvel at their awful performaces, tweet our disgust at their lack of ability, and then tweet even more furiously when they inevitably survived another week. After they left, Kelly’s girls category picked up the slack before Marcus and Little Mix came to the forefront towards the end, which you would expect as the number of contestants thinned. It’s worth noticing as well that the successful acts usually stay beneath the radar the first few weeks, doing just enough to get by without stealing the headlines and attracting attention.

Predicting the winners and losers

The following graph shows each act’s share of tweets each weekend, but only tweets that say they should win. Little Mix don’t get any real share of this vote until Week 7, a trend that the official voting figures confirm with Little Mix not being the public favourite until Week 7 of the competition.

Up until half way through the competition both Marcus and Little Mix had a relatively small share of tweets saying they should win, the early contenders being Misha B and Janet. Both those female acts had pretty irrecoverable falls from grace, as Janet routinely messed up and forgot her words, and Misha B got caught up in the bullying allegations from Tulisa. Was this a cynical yet smart move from the debut judge? Misha never really had a way back after that and of course Tulisa went on to win.

Tweeting about the Judges

That incident got people tweeting alright, and as in XFactor tradition, it’s the judges that get almost as much, if not more, attention than the acts.

The graph on the right shows which judge was most talked-about throughout the 10 weeks. Kelly came out on top and there would appear to be 3 main reasons why; 1) her absence due to illness in Week 4, including her comical ‘too-sick-for-work’ voice (we all recognise it) as she literally ‘phoned-it-in’ from the States. 2) The reappearance of Amelia in Week 6 and the fact she was the only judge to have 3 acts remaining in the final weeks, and 3) her fairly lame refusal to vote in Week 8 when it came down to deciding who to send home between Janet and Misha. Louis was strangely subdued this year, but not as much as boring Gary who routinely failed to get anyone overly interested at all in his opinions. I suppose that’s what you get for trying to bring genuine constructive musical criticism to what is essentially a slanging match.

Only the beginning

Overall I think this is the year that social media really came into its own as a major source of insight during huge communal viewing experiences like X Factor. The US version of the show has already started allowing votes by tweeting, and it’s almost certain that the British series will follow suit next year. From our analysis we were able to draw fairly definitive conclusions about the show each week, but with bigger resources and even bigger events resulting in millions of tweets,  there’s the opportunity to analyse the increasing noise  to get even deeper insight. This is something I believe will be completely commonplace in years to come. Social media will only continue to have a huge and lasting effect on how we watch these shows, and indeed, how they are presented to us in general.

To see our full report on this years X Factor on Twitter, head over to our Slideshare and check it out.

Til next year..

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