Inside the 'Good,' 'Great,' 'Amazing' and 'Awesome' Social-Media Triumph of NBC's 'The Voice'

Singing Competition's Embrace of Twitter Paid Off Big-Time, Bluefin Labs Data Shows

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Tweet volume: 'American Idol' vs. 'The Voice'
Tweet volume: 'American Idol' vs. 'The Voice'
Gender breakdown for social chatter about 'The Voice' throughout the season
Gender breakdown for social chatter about 'The Voice' throughout the season
Word cloud showing popular terms in social-media chatter about 'The Voice'
Word cloud showing popular terms in social-media chatter about 'The Voice'
At Ad Age's most recent CaT (Creativity and Technology) conference in New York, Tom Thai of Bluefin Labs gave a fascinating presentation about his company's explorations into the social conversation surrounding television. (Cambridge, Mass.-based Bluefin's niche involves providing brands, agencies and media companies with real-time TV-audience response insights through social-media analysis.) Following Tom's presentation, Ad Age began discussions with him and the Bluefin team to see if we might work together to surface some interesting data about the intersection between social and TV for, given that the company's technology platform offers a view into more than three billion social-media comments -- including those posted on Twitter and Facebook -- each month.

We're starting today with a look at NBC's singing-competition hit "The Voice." Though we've covered the show quite a bit already (e.g., see my colleague Brian Steinberg's "How Loudly Will 'The Voice' Carry Come Spring?"), the fact that the show had its finale on Wednesday presented an opportunity: Bluefin could give us a full-season look at the show's rather remarkable social-media footprint. Some highlights:

  • "The Voice" nailed its social-media strategy from the get-go, not only building a Twitter presence into the broadcast -- with an official hashtag (#thevoice) and on-screen tweets from the judges -- but by casting Alison Haislip to be the show's backstage online/social-media correspondent. It paid off. Bluefin data shows that social-media chatter surrounding the show's premiere on April 26 was roughly eight times that of the "American Idol" episode that aired the next night. Even as the competition tightened on "American Idol," "The Voice" maintained a dramatic lead in social buzz. In the first week of May, for instance, "The Voice" had roughly five times the social-media response of "Idol."
  • According to Bluefin's rankings, "The Voice" has one of the highest levels of social-media engagement among all shows. During its run, it held the #1 ranking among all episodic TV shows (i.e., it was beaten out only by special events, such as the Academy Awards, the Grammys, the royal-wedding coverage, etc.). Remarkably, it beat not only "American Idol" but Twitter favorites "Glee" and "Dancing With The Stars" in social buzz.
  • Social chatter about "The Voice" was dominated by women/girls: Bluefin estimates a 67%/33% female/male split on social-media response to "The Voice" throughout the season.
  • The overwhelmingly pro-"Voice" social-media response -- Bluefin's sentiment analysis shows a full-season positive rating of 73% -- isn't hugely surprising when you look at one of the most common terms surrounding mentions of the show: "love." Viewers love the show, love the judges, love their favorite contestants. Among the more common adjectives: "good," "great," "amazing" and "awesome."

Stay tuned to for additional data from Bluefin Labs.

For more about Bluefin Labs, visit their website -- and read Abbey Klaassen's coverage of Tom Thai's CaT presentation: "How Mapping Social-Media Chatter to TV Commercials Yields Insights."

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

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