How 'The X Factor' Vote-by-Tweet Partnership With Twitter Has Affected Its Social-TV Footprint

Official Pairing Boosts Show in Social Media

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Earlier this month, "The X Factor" became the first-ever reality-TV competition show to allow voting by Twitter. (See "How to Vote for Your Favorite Act on The X Factor" in the Twitter Help Center.) What's that done for its social-TV footprint? Ad Age asked our editorial partner Bluefin Labs, a Cambridge-Mass.-based social-media analytics company that specializes in social TV, to give us a view into the data it's been collecting on the show all season. Some notes about the charts below:

  • The first chart below shows social-TV activity for each episode of "The X Factor" this season (except for last night's airing, for which data is still being parsed). The fat red bars, labeled "Total Comments" on the top left, represent volume of commentary about a particular episode of "The X Factor" across social media, as tracked by Bluefin (with the lion's share of comments, as usual, appearing on Twitter and in public Facebook updates). The little blue square points, labeled "Avg # Comments / Commenter" on the top right, show just how active each unique commenter is on average.
  • Live episodes began airing on Oct. 25. (See this report from Entertainment Weekly's James Hibberd: "'X Factor' ratings surge for first live show.") Voting-by -tweet started after the Nov. 2 episode. If you look at the tweet volume in the weeks preceding the live shows, it's pretty obvious that viewer engagement has surged. And keep in mind that votes-by -tweet don't factor into Bluefin's count; per Twitter's partnership with "The X Factor," viewers vote by direct message (DM). "Direct messages," the Twitter Help Center explains, "are not public, so only @TheXFactorUSA will see your vote on Twitter."
  • One note about the deep dip in the show's social engagement on Oct. 16: That night's airing was on a Sunday -- a shift from the normal "X Factor" schedule due to the World Series.
  • The most popular contestant coming out the show's Nov. 2 episode -- the first vote-by -tweet show -- was a young rapper named Astro. But viewers are fickle; you're only as good as the last performance, and on "X Factor" voters have lately turned on the kid. He had to "sing for his life" last night -- thanks to low votes -- and though he's still on the show, his survival is controversial. (See this report from Us Weekly: "X Factor Eliminee Stacy Francis: Saved Rapper Astro, 15, Is 'Ungracious.'")
  • "'The X Factor' has been a hands-down social-TV hit this TV season," Bluefin's Tom Thai tells me. "It averages 110,000 social-media comments per episode. It's the No. 1 social-TV show among reality series, out of 164 total, this season. And among all genres, it's the No. 2 show, out of 526 series, trailing only 'Glee.' And among all TV shows and events this season -- which includes the Emmys, various political debates and sporting events -- 'The X Factor' ranks 14th out of 1,778."
X Factor

Stay tuned to for more data from Bluefin Labs.

For more about Bluefin, visit their website.

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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