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Can The X Factor muster another number one?

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 09 January 2012

Can The X Factor muster another number one?


UK X Factor 2011 winners Little Mix (covering Damian Rice’s Cannonball) were beaten to the Christmas number one by the Military Wives Choir (Wherever You Are composed by Paul Melor).  The girl band (Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall) the first group to win the X Factor couldn’t have experienced stronger competition this year against Gareth Malone’s Military Wives.  The choir had been the bookies favourite in the weeks leading up to the Christmas number one.

Military Wives, a choir formed from the wives of serving soldiers that needed distraction whilst their husbands are away, has a huge fan base; a core following that resonated with the nation pulling massive support from different many quarters.  Other the hand, although Little Mix’s popularity and social fan base continues to grow, the group received criticism for the video that was created.  The consensus was the Cannonball cover deserved a dedicated new video, rather than clips taken from X Factor broadcasts.  Although it attracted unwanted heat, support in the girl group didn’t falter and they still received backing from fans.  It wasn’t enough to secure them the Christmas number one though.  Sky News reported that Military Wives sold more records in two days then the X Factor winners sold in a week.X Factor logo

It’s only the second time in three years that the X Factor has been denied the festive top spot, after Rage Against The Machine beat Joe McElderry to number one in 2009 after a massive social media protest.  It just goes to show if the public’s imagination can be captured in a different way, a programme that effectively advertises the prospect of a X Factor winner securing a number one spot for many weeks can’t secure what may be perceived to be an inevitable outcome.

The US X Factor used many different approaches than its UK counterpart, particularly from digital and social media perspectives as evidence stacks up in the growth of digital programme viewing and interaction (including the type of devices audiences are using).  The US X Factor was able to incorporate voting via Facebook and Twitter and its sophisticated mobile app (with live behind the scenes and in-app voting).

Despite lower than anticipate viewing figures in the US, Simon Cowell has still managed to secure a second series, so it’s all still to play for in 2012 - for both sides of the pond.  It will be interesting viewing in itself how the programme adapts to the digital challenges that rapidly evolve and what other channels will be offering, namely, BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, Channel 5’s Celebrity Big Brother (which kicks off in the next couple of days) and Big Brother.

As for Little Mix, they will need to sustain their magic, continue to build upon their popularity (offline and across social media) to steer clear of the pitfalls of X Factor winner stardom, avoiding becoming ‘the ones that were’.  

In addition to producing records that sell and intelligent promotions that enable this, social media will most certainly be a huge factor in the girl group evolving in one of the most fickle and competitive industries. Boosting the social following they now have amassed will be a critical element in their future success, and who knows, a number one from more of their own making.  

To view all of the social media analysis from the UK X Factor series 8, you may click through the 10 infographics at Scribd, or at the Elemental blog.

X Factor social media analysis infographics from series 8

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