Once again, the Internet is abuzz with predictions and theories about who is going to win American Idol. In the early days of the competition (back when Kelly Clarkson was still a nobody singing karaoke and we only hypothesized that we hated the British without actually knowing it through Simon Cowell), there was much less web traffic about the show. This season and the previous one, however, it's all the Internet can talk about.
This leads people in finding numerous ways to predict who of the now-6 remaining contestants will be voted off each week. After all, this is a show that purports that the American public gets to decide who is going to stay and who is going to go. Polls, blogs, and fansites may all play an important role in deciding the overall victor, much like a modern day political campaign.
TV Squad, a popular television site, uses polls from various sources as well as their own intuition to predict the next bootee. Most of the polls incorrectly predicted Syesha Mercado's demise, while the real loser was Kristy Lee Cook. Obviously, this is not an accurate way to predict the contestant with the lowest votes. The polls are simply too specific in the sense that only those Internet snoopers that come across them will actually get a chance to vote in the poll. This does not represent an accurate view of the American public.
DialIdol.com has found a more inventive way to predict the successful contestants. Their software measures the busy signal of each phone line to determine who is getting the most votes. They started the program during the previous season, but achieved only moderate success in the predictions. The company also sells software to enable one person to vote many times for a contestant. Many sites have reported that the software is now known by the American Idol producers and rarely works anymore.
Tivo also found a creative way to measure the votes. The company claims that they can predict who is going to be voted off by which minutes of the recorded programs are re-watched. The theory is that Idol favorites will have their performances re-watched by their adoring public, while soon-to-be eliminees will have fewer views. Unfortunately, the system seems to not be altogether accurate, since Tivo has incorrectly predicted Mercado two weeks in a row.
Another social media company, BuzzLogic, uses their "influencer blog" ratings to follow the entire competition via their blog. I was impressed by the fledgling company's efforts at first glance, but upon closer inspection realized that few, if any, of their predictions have been true. In addition, BuzzLogic gives very little explanation when they are incorrect. This does, however, bolster my recent opinion that Katie Paine's connection between online activity and offline activity is flawed. Many ‘influential' bloggers may be writing about certain candidates for American Idol, but that does not necessarily mean that they are voting for them, or voting at all.
I decided to tackle the task of predicting American Idol, ImpactWatch style. Instead of using news articles, I used Tweet Scan to analyze 90 tweets per remaining contestant, using two separate searches for each. I searched for each contestant's full name as well as their first name and the phrase "American Idol". I read and ranked each tweet post as positive, negative, or neutral.
There are two reasons why I believe this method to be more valid than the other ways that were described above. First, tweets represent impulses and first impressions, which I assume mirrors the mindset of actual voters. Secondly, this is the only method that ascribes a positive or negative take on the information. Polls just rank the favorite, while the Tivo system lacks any real information about why certain parts of the show are re-watched. BuzzLogic's system has merit, but suffers from the need of personal input by its bloggers to explain anomalies in the amounts of influencer blogs.
Using my ImpactWatch inspired protocol, I found that David Cook and Jason Castro have the highest amount of positive tweets. Sure enough, after doing some extended research, I found that the two received much praise for their performances last week. All three females had an identical number of negative tweets (45), but Mercado has the lowest amount of positive tweets at a scant 30. This is preliminary, but on Wednesday morning, I will post an updated tweet analysis (since Tuesday is when the contestants will perform their new songs). Voters will most likely be tweeting away while they are waiting to vote. Let's see if I can accurately predict which Idol will fall.
My current results are summarized below, using a graph created using ImpactWatch.