A digital music mystery: Australian Idol Fan to Follower anomaly, Do you know the answer?

What is the difference between a Facebook Fan and a Twitter follower?

I have been doing a bit of research into Australian music artists and their number of fans online. My hypothesis was the more album you sold, the more fans you would have on Myspace, Twitter and Facebook.

My white paper that I will release soon, finds benchmarks for ARIA charting artist. I have found the average number of Facebook fans, Myspace friends and Twitter followers of an artist should increase depending on what level of sales they got to on the ARIA chart (Gold, Platinium or 2x Platinium).

But I noticed one really interesting pattern, ex-Australian Idol contestants index really low on Facebook Fans but then really high on Twitter Followers?
For instance, a Gold (35,000+ album/single sales) selling artist the average number of Facebook Fans is 14,000 (e.g Karnivool, Bliss N Eso and Pnau all have between 10-15k for fans). However Australian Idol contestants Wes Carr and Ricki-Lee have a very low number of fans (2000 and 1,700 fans respectively). However when you look at Twitter followers the average is 1,300 followers but Wes and Ricki-Lee have triple that number with 3900 and 3800 respectively?!?!

So why is it that Australian Idol contestants index so low on Facebook fans yet so high on Twitter followers?

I have got no idea, I would be really keen to hear your theory on why this phenomena is occurring. Free Guy Sebastian album for the person who comes up with the right answer!


Nathan Reed said...

Pop music isn't my forte but my guess in this instance is engagement.

Becomming a fan of something is more of a set and forget activity to show your musical alliances to your friends while twitter is more involved, with a steady stream of information following making the connection.

Are the ex idolers tweeting above average? Are they posting information of interest to fans that isn't being shared on facebook i.e. giving away free stuff?

Example of this is commedian Margaret Cho. She's always offering up free stuff via her twitter stream (which is autocopied across to her facebook status). However, to win you need to RT, not reply on facebook.

Kimota said...

I wonder whether it is more to do with whoever is managing the Aussie Idol online campaigns as it is most likely the same across all these artists. Wouldn't they all be (or started on) the same label? Maybe the common link isn't the Idol winners themselves, per se, but the marketing person(s) behind them and their tendencies in social networks.

Joely Righteous said...

I think Kimota might be onto it,

We should also consider that it is incredibly easy to "game" twitter follower numbers through the use of several methods. It is a bit more difficult to fake the number of fans on Facebook.

Did you do any kind of analysis on the validity of the Twitter audiences?

Unknown said...

I think when someone becomes a fan of someone on facebook its to a greater degree than on Twitter a display of their own personality & self image, what they are into. Facebook to me is all about that phenomenum. Twitter is more about browsing subjects of interest.

I think then that an Idol star (being more of a disposable short lived type of star) is less about someones self image repertoire than a band whos more ingrained in the music landscape. So they dont feature as much on FB users fan lists. But people who use twitter still have a mild interest in them so will read their tweets.

Justin Polites said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Polites said...

I think the answer might be if you look into her @replies has regular conversation she has with the likes of:

More here http://tweetstats.com/graphs/therickilee

These conversations bring new followers who want to be (or feel) a part of the quasi celeb tidbits. This isn't happening on her facebook page. If you take a look at the @karnivool replies they are unlikely to get that traction talking to punters.

I look forward to your white paper.

Anonymous said...

My Idol rarely posts on Facebook and myspace except for announcements. But he does tweet occasionally and people tweet about him.
search.twitter.com will list everything that's ever said about him. Twitter is just easier and more immediate for fans.

Daniel Oyston said...

I recon it is the promos they do on the Hot 30 each night. I often just leave it on the Hot 30 when driving home and half the time they have Wes, Ricki, Guy etc on the show as guests. And often they mention Twitter …

Lippy said...

I think a lot has to do with the “anonymity” of following someone on Twitter versus becoming a fan of someone on Facebook… especially when we are talking Australian Idol.
Recently I wanted to support a mate by becoming a fan of his online sex toy business’FB page… but realised that my gran (who I am friends with on FB) would have had a heart attack (plus she has like 5 friends so it would have sat on her home page for eternity and she checks it regularly. But Worse still would be any of my friends seeing me become a fan of Australian idol heart-throb Wes.

Nathan Bush said...

I agree with what Damien is saying here. I think Idol's open themselves to being followed on Twitter because they are "celebrities". Even if you're not a fan of their music you may be interested in their random updates (like reading a gossip mag). Facebook is more of a reflection of yourself and your interests - if you're a fan of an Idol you like their music as well. Interesting topic.

Mark MacSmith said...

Aus Idol is a reality show - Twitter lets you get more knowledge on the stars day to day movements. It's the closest thing to a continuation of the reality show for obsessed fans.

People are hesitant of becoming facebook fans of Idol stars as they are embarrassed by their love of an Aus Idol contestant and dont want their work collegues/old school mates to find out.

Did I nail it?

Jimmy said...

@Mark MacSmith - you're spot on!

Arturo said...

I can speak from some experience in saying that bands, as in more than one person, aren't very good at managing Twitter as a channel. And
I have to agree with Mark MacSmith in that it's easier to hide behind a Twitter account than it is to show your true colours on Facebook, but it has to be more than that. An Idol is a personality. A band isn't. It's two, three, four personalities. And for whatever reason - I could so speculate here - this makes it a lot harder for them as a unit, than as a single person, to get amongst it. There seems to be more value at stake for the Idol, than for the unit. I'd say an Idol is more proactive in managing themselves, and hence their "brand", than a band. And yes I'm going to say it: bands are inherently lazy when it comes to producing content, other than music. And for the record Julian, Ladyhwake's "official" Twitter is @LadyHawkeForYou.

Julian Cole said...

Hey Nathan, I agree with the set and forget method, becoming a fan is a bigger step.

Ex-idolers are not above average and the interesting thing is that they are differ in levels of commitment to the platform.

I will have to look up the Margaret Cho example

Kimota, as I know it they are being run by different companies. Ricki-Lee is now independent.

Joely - I had a look at tweetanalyzer but that did not show any irregular activity, the annyoning thing about that is it can only go a few weeks back and does not show lifetime. I am kind of leaning towards them gaming twitter

Justin - the only thing with the direct responses is that a tweeter must be following both people to see the conversation that is occuring between the two artist, they will not see in their stream any @ replies to @wescarr or @audidol star if they are not already following that person

Daniel - I had not thought about the Hot30 that is a good one, I would imagine other artists might do the same though?

Lippy - Your grandma is on Facebook, wow that is massive. My mum and dad are still not on there, thank god!

Nathan - I think the closest real life example of Facebook news feed and twitter feed would be a gossip magazine.

Mark - I think you summed it up nicely, there is a difference between becoming a fan and a follower.

Arturo - You make a great point about having four personalities in a band. If Short Stack/Grinspoon are anything to go by, it looks like they are setting up a parent account for the band and then every member has a specific account.

Unknown said...

I wonder if it has something to do with the context of how you discover a particular music artist.

I'm also thinking that it says very different things: on twitter no one really knows who you're following (it's not really a merit badge) whereas on Facebook your whole network gets notified and it becomes one of the parts of your identity.

I think that TV and Twitter are quite good mates- and the Idols are (obviously) first discovered by their fans there. TV watching can be a solitary thing (which is why reality tv + twitter is so popular.

I think that you discover non Idols- bands and artists quite differently. In my experience you usually get introduced to Aussie acts through friends and their reccomendations- by going along to a gig, or checking them out at a festival, or some other live experience.

I think you also need to have a live, or extended experience (perhaps like having or having listened to their album) with a local act before you come a Facebook Fan. The reasons are that it takes time to develop an awareness of an 'artist' over and above a track or a song that you like.

Rish said...

Facebook and Myspace are a lot more to do with the music. If you're a fan on Facebook, you're telling everybody that you love the music so much that you want it to show up on your profile and profess it to your friends.
Twitter is a lot more about the voyeurism. I follow everyone on Twitter (celebrity-wise) whether I like them or not, because I'm naturally curious. I like to know what they're up to on a personal level even if I don't particularly care when they're releasing their new album.
Twitter is also a lot more likely to contain regular updates made by the artist themselves - which again, taps into that voyeuristic tendency. Myspace and Facebook accounts which are updated by Management holds far less interest for celeb-stalkers which I am not ashamed to admit I am!