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

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 chart 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.”

Simon Dumenco, the “Media Guy” media columnist for Advertising Age