Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Power of Pop

Seeing the pictures of Paul McCartney performing on the marquee of the Ed Sullivan Theater for David Letterman's show got me to thinking. And I caught a bit of a McCartney concert on one of the HDTV networks and the lovable long-haired lad from Liverpool sounded absolutely horrible...flat, off key, hoarse. And then I got a press release about the research below done by an outfit called Rapleaf:

** Prior to Michael Jackson's death, The Beatles had more online fans than Michael Jackson, Elvis, and Madonna combined. After his death and the social media flurry that followed, Michael Jackson topped The Beatles in popularity

** Even though Madonna has the most-recent career, Michael Jackson has the youngest fan base, followed by The Beatles (Elvis has the oldest fan base).

No kidding! But I mention this because there was a time when everything was about the popular, likeable/unlikeable, recognizable and other similar criteria a personality was. Those scores were a prime factor when casting a movie or getting a guest on a network talk show. I remember when the TV networks circulated lists with personalities ranked in tiers, mostly based on Q-Scores. If a producer was trying to sell a special to the networks, he had to have at least two out of the first tier, one or two from the second. If all your "stars" were in tier three or below, forget it!

I wonder if that is still the case? And especially in a day when FaceBook or Twitter can--if they wish--accumulate data on how many times a celebrity gets a mention on their sites. Whether those mentions are positive or negative. Within days, we know if Conan is cutting it. If President Obama is up or down. If Oprah counts anymore. How Steve McNair rates in recognizability now as compared to a couple of weeks ago.

I'm just not sure I would want to do what it apparently takes to really score on this list.


Don Keith


Anonymous said...

Q Scores have proven that over and over again for personalities with superior talents. By the way, positive and negative mentions (i.e., general sentiment) in stories on websites do not equate to likeability! These website comments are only representative of "webiste comments" and not the population-at-large. This blogger makes the mistake of using unscientific methods as a form of legitimate market research - bad move. And, oh by the way, there are some very well-known people that have very high Q Sores who are all very much alive (Tom Hanks, Robin Willaims, Hugh Laurie, William Peterson to name a few). And, Q Scores are a great way to find new personalities with high end potential for growth-- connecting with these personalities early in their careers can pay off handsomely down the road. Don't be so narrow in your perspective -- only properly conducted market research studies can reveal such findings with any level of confidence.

Don Keith N4KC said...

Anonymous, thank you for posting, but you miss my point. I am not saying that Q-Scores are bad research. I did ask if those data are still as crucial as they once were. And I am certainly not saying mentions on social media sites are a good indication of "likeability."

I'm simply saying that name recognition and realtive "popularity" (maybe "notoriety" is a better word) is--like so much else given advancing technology--instantaneous due to social media.

And the real question is, is that a good or bad thing? Is someone a true hot commodity because he or she gets a sudden spurt of mentions on FaceBook posts. Or develops a few thousand new followers overnight on Twitter? I asked tongue-in-cheek if dying was the best way to get that spike. Rapleaf's data seem to suggest so.

Radio and TV now have the capability of accessing near instant ratings info. What are the ramifications of that? Will shows disappear off the network after a couple of bad showings? Will radio stations change formats once a month until something clicks?

You can bet that somebody will interpret social media mentions as valid data and make decisions based on that. How many Michael Jackson songs have you heard on the radio lately? Songs that were not getting played for good reason before he died and got "popular" again?

I rest my case.

Don Keith