King of Popular Media: Michael Jackson’s Death
The death of Michael Jackson signified the first fatality of an international megastar in the social media era. Recent statistics into the online ‘buzz’ in the aftermath of Jackson’s passing make interesting reading. New Media Knowledge crunched the numbers and had a look how buzz monitoring could be useful for business.
Michael Jackson’s death in Los Angeles in June this year was arguably the first death of a truly global celebrity in the social media era. While social networks and chat rooms have been alive with comments, tributes and conversations around Jacko’s death and back catalogue, the general ‘buzz’ – or online discussion – surrounding his passing has been monitored by web analytics firm Webtrends, and makes interesting reading which the company believes could be of use to digital marketers.
Easy as One, Two, Three
Webtrends measured the number of name checks that Jackson’s albums and singles have been receiving over the last few weeks, with his 1983 classic Thriller proving to be the most mentioned album or song, claiming more than twice the number of posts of the second-most discussed track or album, Bad. HIStory, Dangerous, Off the Wall and Invincible are the next most popular albums among social media users, according to Webtrends.
Webtrends’ digital solutions architect Christian Howes used social media monitoring tool Radian6 to measure Jackson’s buzz, trawling more than 4,500 social media sites in real time including YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, as well as popular blogs and forums. Howes told NMK that in the moment before his death social media posts on the self-proclaimed “King of Pop” were negligible, despite the announcement of his comeback “This is it” tour. In contrast, during the hours after his death posts rocketed to 240,000.
“Michael Jackson is the first megastar to die in the broadband era, and fans of his music have used social media sites in the first instance to share rumours of his death, and subsequently as a vehicle for the huge outpouring of love for Jackson we witnessed over the past weeks,” said Howes. “Elsewhere discussions have sprung up all over the net regarding which were the best tracks from Jacko’s impressive discography.”
Don’t Stop 'til You Get Enough
Jackson continued to break records even after his death, according to stats from search engine marketing specialists, http://www.dbdmedia.co.uk/">DBD Media. Yahoo saw a record number of unique visitors for a single day with 16.4 million visitors and reports of the singer’s death on Yahoo apparently became the most visited story in Yahoo’s history.
DBD Media’s managing director Nigel Muir told NMK: “Google even mistook the huge search volumes around his death as a malware attack, with the news site briefly shutting down and posting a ‘We’re sorry, but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can't process your request right now’ message on it site instead.”
Off the Trawl
Analysis of the buzz following Jackson’s death demonstrates the value of analytics for businesses keen to know who’s saying what about their brand, products and services, according to Webtrends’ Howes.
“Social media has engulfed the UK’s business scene over the past year. A recent example; two months ago two employees from [pizza firm] Dominos in the US filmed themselves adding unsavoury toppings to pizzas and posted the video on YouTube,” he said. “Dominos reacted fast and utilised Radian6 to closely monitor trends in what their customers were saying about the company at that time. The CEO was then able to address these specific concerns through a video which was placed on various social networking sites.”
Howes concluded: “Today it seems that although many companies have twigged that having a social media presence is a positive thing, much fewer are actually analysing their presence online and are often simply clueless as to what is being said about them in the world of social media.”