Predicting Trends: The Taylor Swift Effect

Why do some movie releases celebrate instant success while others sink?

At Y Digital Agency, we are in the industry of trying to predict the successes of products and companies based on social signals. One of of favorite hobbies is guessing which new shows/movies on Netflix will climb their way to the top of the charts.

Using more than 67 variables and 100,000 points of data, we predicted, initially, that “The Girl on the Train” would be the most successful March release on Netflix–that is, until Taylor Swift and her loyal band of Swifties got involved.

On March 1st, all of our models shifted dramatically toward “Ginny & Georgia” in the type of statistically movement that sets off major red flags. What happened, you asked?

This Happened:

Taylor Swift Ginny and Georgia Tweet

Some Background

Ginny & Georgia is a new Netflix series about a mother and daughter duo who relocate in hopes of a new start. Complicated relationships with men are a strong source of conflict throughout the plot.

In the series finale, an argument ensues around Ginny’s dating life. In the heat of the argument, Ginny exposes her mother’s hypocrisy when she says, “What do you care? You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.”

This singular line prompted a response from the ever-image-careful Swift, whose dating life entered the public eye when she began sharing her experiences with the world through music. Her call-out on Twitter mobilized the “Swiftie” army as well as capitalized on the Women’s History Month category and other trendy topics. The perfect storm for turning all the models toward (or against) a new show.

The Power of Influencers

 Post-Taylor-tweet data showed a dramatic shift in conversations around new Netflix shows with “Ginny & Georgia” going from obscurity to taking over the #1 spot in our models (and subsequently, in the US on Netflix’s official charts). Below is just a small sampling of data showing the change from February 28 to March 1, dubbed “Pre-Taylor and Post-Taylor.”

1. Influencer Mentions

Before Taylor Swift’s tweet, there were 230 influencers who mentioned “Ginny & Georgia”. One week after Taylor’s Tweet, this number had doubled to 480 influencers who mentioned “Ginny & Georgia.” Influencers are one of the more heavily weighted variables in our predictive metrics.

 

Weekly Social Media Volume

This metric looks at the number of comments, posts and mentions of particular shows any given week. You’ll see that in the week following Taylor’s attack on the show, conversation about Ginny & Georgia increased by nearly 10x. Measuring conversation helps us to correlate the number of people watching a show, or will be watching a show in the future.

Total Authors

The total number of different people engaged in a conversation correlates very strongly to the social spread of a show and ultimately, its viewership. We track this metric and put it into a formula we use in-house to estimate a show’s popularity. Before Taylor, less than 10,000 different people across all social channels were talking about “Ginny & Georgia.” After the Swifties came for the show? More than 60,000.

Conclusion

Whether or not a particular show will be found by the masses is equal part science, art and luck. While most shows can be accurately predicted using social media trends, sometimes, a catalyst can change the entire trajectory of a show. The domino effect across all social media channels and the variables we collected showed the type of exposure increase in “Ginny & Georgia” unlike any of the previous shows we’d tracked. Whether Swift meant to or not, she took a show that was tracking for average viewership (well behind the likes of “The Girl on the Train” and “Murder Among the Mormons”) and elevated it to the most watched new release on the platform. I guess the lesson here is that if you want your new Netflix release to to be the top of the show in the country, just sprinkle in a little Swift.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *