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Social Idol: Will number of followers equate to votes?

American Idol contestants provide a case study in social capital

In many of Cision’s free social media webinars, we frequently receive questions about how to get more followers on Twitter, Facebook and other top social networks. My answer usually consists of two parts:

  1. Quality vs. Quantity: It’s not just a numbers game on these sites. There are lots of get-rich-quick tricks to getting a lot of followers – but if they aren’t loyal followers, they will not be inclined to take action or act as a brand ambassador. Building quality relationships with a smaller community will get you much further in the new world of building social capital.
  2. Authentic Involvement. Act as a member of the community by actually having conversations with friends and fans, sharing helpful ideas, links and stories and answering and asking questions as they arise. Comment on influential bloggers’ posts in your industry, create a list of your favorite Tweeters or create something of value within your social network for friends and fans to take advantage of. These actions will build your social capital and you will watch your community grow.

These are definitely best practices, but, in reality, does a larger number of followers ever produce better results solely because of sheer size? Well, we may soon know the answer.

The behemoth machine that is American Idol has always kept a pretty tight reign on the messaging coming from its contestants. In past years, contestants were not allowed to maintain public profile pages on the top social networks – this year, Fox gave each semi-finalist a controlled MySpace, Facebook and Twitter profile, according to Reality Blurred.

The TV Addict has aggregated how many followers each semi-finalist has – and it’s a wide spectrum.  Andrew Garcia, the leader by almost 10,000 followers, has over 21,000 followers on the three combined sites, while the least popular semi-finalist, Michelle Delamor, has only 2,363 combined followers. (It should be noted that Lee Dewyze has had the largest growth in his following in the past week, adding 193%.)

But how loyal are these followers? Will a social follow result in an action – a vote for the contestant? Will tracking these numbers provide us with a crystal ball to predict who will stay and go on the show based on number of followers? Only time will tell. But it may provide us with some interesting insight when we begin to look at the most engaged communities as the season progresses. I’ll keep an eye out and keep you posted.

Tags : social media

About Heidi Sullivan

One of PRWeek’s 40 under 40 in 2012, Heidi Sullivan is Senior Vice President of Digital Content for Cision and a self-proclaimed social media metrics nerd. She leads the company’s digital and broadcast content teams, the global research team for Cision’s media database, Cision’s social media community team and the company’s content marketing strategy. You can find her on Twitter @hksully.

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