The X Factor: social media and the live shows [infographic]

Each week we’ll be bringing you an overview of ITV’s The X Factor and what is happening in social media around the show, which has massively benefited by the surge in interactivity that two screen viewing has brought. We’re looking at the 16 finalists, judges and The X Factor’s official social media channels; Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

As the intro is being played at the start of the Saturday show, we took screen-captures of each profile (approximately 40 in total), which we did again as the credits rolled.  This was done again at the start and finish of the Live Results show on Sunday, and it will be done the same way for the rest of the live shows in the following 11 or so weeks. We have also created this infographic, which we hope you like at the foot of the post.

Why screen-capture?

This gives us a permanent record of each profile, and the figures and exact time they were taken.  Doing it this way, rather than just recording the figures straight into a spreadsheet means there is reduced margin for human error with the data entry. We can also use this to look at how the contestant’s profiles (such as their pictures and descriptions) change over time.


From Facebook, we are measuring the number of Likes as well as Facebook’s new, “People Like This” which shows the number of people engaging with a Page over a 24-hour period.  We’ll also be noting which contestants choose to go beyond the basic Page layout and functionality to be more interactive with their fans (such as Misha B, who’s Facebook landing page features an exclusive song powered by RootMusic).


Primarily with Twitter, we’ll be looking at the number of Followers, the number of tweets sent and how many people they themselves follow.  We may also look to how many mentions they receive during the live shows.


With YouTube, we are measuring the number of views of each of the live show videos and the number of comments and ratings.  We are also looking at The X Factor channel’s total upload views, profile views and number of subscribers.  People often talk about producer bias for individual contestants, so making a note of who’s video is the featured channel video against the inevitable chatter on this topic will be really interesting.  It may be interesting to note that prior to the live shows were added on Sunday, the featured video was Janet Devlin’s Judge’s house audition.  After the live shows, it changed to Janet’s live performance on Saturday’s show.

An example
Here’s an example from The Girls category, Sophie Habibas.

Saturday, 08 October
19:30:  Likes on Facebook – 2,535 Likes and followers on Twitter – 9,960
22:00:  Likes on Facebook – 4,565 Likes and followers on Twitter – 11,068

Sunday, 09 October
19:30:  Likes on Facebook – 5,701 Likes and followers on Twitter – 13,783
22:00:  Likes on Facebook – 5,875 Likes and followers on Twitter – 13,922

So, from that we found that the percentage increases and see that Sophie’s Facebook audience grew by 80% and Twitter by 11% during Saturday’s show.  In Sunday’s show Facebook grew by 3% and Twitter by just 1%.

At the end of Sunday’s live show, Sophie had 19,797 Likes and followers, she started at the beginning of Saturday’s show with 12,495, which means her online fan base grew by 58.4%.  In total, her profile size by 7,302 and whilst not the biggest increase in numbers (Frankie’s grew by 21,955) it means her audience size grew by 58.4% overall, making her the fastest growing contestant in Week 1.

Spotting trends and insights

Although these are straightforward measurements we’re taking, over time it will allow us to look at questions such as:

  • Do ITV’s viewing figures correspond to growth and engagement across social channels?
  • Do the judges comments (negative and positive) correlate to the finalists audience size?
  • Do contestants that open and close the show see bigger growth during the week?
  • Do contestants that have been given the boot drop off the social media radar?
  • Can we predict who will be in the bottom two acts based on the growth and engagement on their social profiles?
  • Can we use this to predict who will leave each week?
  • Is there any correlation between the size of an individuals social profile and the amount it grows by and the order that the safe contestants are announced?

And the penultimate question – can social media determine the winner of The X Factor 2011?

The first week is an interesting one, because the contestant that left the show wasn’t determined by the public vote (in which social media will play a massive part most certainly), but by the judges.  Each had to choose one of their four acts to leave the show, based on who they thought could make it through to the final.

Given that will be determined by the public, did the judges consider the potential impact and following of the contestants social audiences before making their decision?  Crunching the numbers, James Michael’s social fans grew by almost 52% putting him at the 3rd fastest growing contestant.  Jonjo, who also left the show this week was smack bang in the middle of the pack in 8th place and 2 Shoes and Amelia Lily came in at 12th and 14th place respectively.

So, without further ado… here’s our first X Factor UK infographic.  Let us know your thoughts and predictions for the series below (click to expand).

Rachel Hawkes is an account director at Elemental Communications.

  • StuartW

    ERROR: in the YouTube bit Marcus Collins’s pic is labelled with Craig Colton’s name.


  • Jonson

    Social media does not accurately reflect the majority of a typical X Factor audience.

  • Rachel Hawkes

    Thanks for flagging that up Stuart

  • Rachel Hawkes

    Hi Jonson, fair point – social media doesn’t reflect the entirety of The X Factor audience, but given the majority of viewers that pick up the phone and vote are younger and more digitally minded, social media will unquestionably have an impact. We’ve already seen in previous years the massive role it can play in the show, think Joe McEldery and Rage Against The Machine. We’re really interested in having the social media data from start to finish, which will allow us to identify any trends as the show unfolds and looking back after the winner is crowned.

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  • James Ainsworth

    This is really interesting in a ‘growth by numbers’ analysis of the competition and data based on contestants’ activity, as well as social network users too.

    I have run a quick analysis of volumes and sentiment on the data to compare the first Saturday live show of 2010 and that of 2011.

    Given we know that the viewing figures saw a near 2 million drop in viewers for this year’s first live show, compared to that of 2010, it is hugely fascinating that the social data generated from one year to the next has not followed this trend.

    There is a 413 per cent increase in the amount of social data that was generated on the day of the first live show from 2010 to 2011.

    You raise a very interesting point about the numbers of Fans, Likes and Followers, in addition to YouTube views and whether or not this can be seen as a predictive factor. I would say from experience that you cannot predict on these numbers alone.

    Amelia Lily having the biggest growth in Followers via Twitter and Facebook on the week she was evicted tells a story of the Judges’ decision going against what the public would have wanted and voted for if they had the right to do so. Follower growth is indicative of people wanting to ‘stay in touch’ or track the resulting career or otherwise of a popular candidate.

    Indeed, using the data from an Alterian SM2 analysis, we can see that the aggregate sentiment of data around Amelia Lily leaves a score of +197. (Positive mentions minus the negative mentions = aggregate sentiment)

    In comparison, if you examine the sentiment analysis around your Twitter favourite – Frankie – the social data when you aggregate the positive with the negative sentiment scores for conversation around Frankie, he ranks -1028 in aggregate sentiment.

    Janet Devlin, despite her apparent real life quietness and lack of Twitter activity from your data is well received by the public with an aggregate sentiment score of +1031. Frankie has a huge PR job to overturn the perception in the public eye.

    It is too early to predict who might win this year’s competition but the social data last year based on sentiment and not just big numbers alone did indicate who the social media users wanted to win. [ ]

    Great infographic and look forward to seeing how it develops over the coming weeks – you will be doing a weekly update, right?

    James Ainsworth
    Community Manager – Alterian

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