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News Analysis


What we can learn from the death of “online buzz”

What we can learn from the death of “online buzz”

By Max Colson, exploration executive, PHD

At the end of last year we decided to test the power of “online buzz” and how much sway it can have offline by working out a way to calculate the “most talked about newcomer” of 2010.

Using a comprehensive mix of Google UK searches, Facebook “likes”, YouTube views and Twitter followers we calculated and analysed which people had come from nowhere in 2010 to capture the imagination of the online public. You can read a rundown of the Top 30 featuring the likes of Nick Clegg, Chilean Miners, Cat Bin Woman, Paul the Octopus, Gillian Duffy & Julian Assange here.

Perhaps unsurprisingly it was X Factor that dominated our top five newcomers of 2010 but what was of interest was the fact that Cher Lloyd, who came fourth overall, comfortably beat Matt Cardle, the eventual winner. The most plausible argument for this result is that Cher Lloyd appeals to a mostly younger audience who are a bit more active online than Mr Cardle’s broader fanbase (NB: Ms Lloyd’s official Facebook fan group alone has 1.2m fans, double that of Mr Cardle’s 575k). But although she lost the X-Factor final, Lloyd’s victory on our buzz poll is a very good omen for her: it’s a sign that she has incredibly active fan made communities on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter which can now grow on their own, for free. More importantly, we might conclude from this that the concept of “online” buzz as with “online” anything is dead – replaced in a post digital world simply by the idea that people talk about the things they find interesting be that in an office, factory, pub or on facebook or twitter.

The twist though being that in this case the “death of online chatter” is increasing its importance not diminishing it – it’s becoming increasingly difficult to dismiss twitter users as geeks transmitting what they had for breakfast.

This is partly technological – mobiles app mean we can express an opinion on demand – but mostly behavioural. The more mainstream an activity becomes (and the more the media joins in and picks up on it) the more likely others are to adopt it.

For example a press release PHD drafted to publicise the results of the poll was picked up by no less than 300 publishers including The Sun, The Mirror, OK!, The Evening Standard, Perez Hilton”s blog, Sky News and ITN to name but a few. People are learning quickly that the division between online and the real world simply doesn’t exist anymore (former Liverpool striker Ryan Babel was fined £10,000 for posting on Twitter a photoshopped image of referee Howard Webb wearing a Manchester United shirt) and that buzz and talkability are increasingly “live” commodities that can creep up on you when you”re least expecting it - just ask Cat Bin Woman..

2010 showed us that some brands and businesses (Oakley and the Chilean Miners) responded far better to the opportunities and challenges this brings than others (BP & Tony Hayward). 2011? Who knows? (we can’t ask Paul the Octopus anymore sadly...)

Here's our Top 5!

1 Cher Lloyd 118
2 Matt Cardle 105
3 One Direction 100
4 Katie Waissel 91
5 Paul the Octopus 86

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