The Apprentice, like Dragon’s Den is always popular among Twitter users, with a thriving back channel of conversation during every airing of the programme. You can see from the Sysomos chart below the dramatic increase in conversations on Wednesdays and then during the final on Sunday evening.
There is some evidence to suggest that social media can predict (to some extent) anything from stock markets, box office takings and Grammy Award winners. While I believe there is often evidence of correlation between social media and actual events, correlation is not always causation, and even times when it can be the case, these relationships are not always are as significant as often stated. For example, the relationship between stock markets and social media could be attributed to a successful brand simply having more money to spend on social media marketing – hence the correlation.
The relationship between TV talent contests and social media on the face of it, appears to be more significant. People talking about a show such as The X Factor also have the opportunity to vote for their favourite, therefore there is more likely to be a positive correlation. However, as we’ve seen with The X Factor, just because young teenage girls are talking to their friends about One Direction online does not directly in the same number of votes for the band.
In the case of The Apprentice, the relationship is even less likely – Lord Sugar and his team vote for the winner with little or no input from the audience. However, we thought it would be interesting to analyse who came out on top out of the final four in the online world.
From the three charts we can see that Susan is by far the most talked about contestant throughout the programme and interestingly, overall Tom (the eventual winner) was the least discussed. Without spending days poring through the data and analysing the content of the updates, it is impossible to know what people were actually saying in relation to the contestants – was the sentiment positive or negative? Were they simply talking about how attractive Susan is? This goes to show that popularity and quantitative information on its own is not enough: we need some context.
Since the end of the series, Tom’s stock has shot up. His Twitter feed @inventor_tom now has nearly 24,000 followers. It will be interesting to see whether the momentum behind Tom – and to a lesser extent Susan continues now that the series is over and then begin layering the data over information about the businesses each of the contestants – social media mentions, stock value, sales, etc.
The popularity of programmes such as The Apprentice shows that scheduled TV is not yet dead, despite what many media commentators say. By encouraging an eco system of back channel conversations (and more importantly skilful editing), TV shows can still create water cooler conversation but rather than having to wait until the morning, audiences are doing this in real time.