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I’ve admitted it enough…in pitch meetings, to my family and myself, that I can finally say it out loud without shame: ShyCast was created back in 2006, in the image of American Idol. I originally thought that a contest platform that enabled American Idol-type competitions on any subject could be a reasonably scalable and interesting business, and I pursued that for several months. But ultimately and for reasons I won’t get into decided it was the wrong path…many followed that path after us, none has succeeded. Still AI is the Grandaddy of contests that leverage technology (mobile) and social media, and so I feel justified tracking and commenting on the franchise’s evolution. My name is Drew, and I watch American Idol…god that feels good.

So I was really excited to see today that USAToday’s Brian Mansfield took the time to count each contestant’s number of Twitter followers and Facebook friends before this week’s performances, and after. Here’s his report in which he proceeds to sell this data short by saying, perhaps as a hedge, that we can’t deduce much from it.

Hard to believe…it seems pretty self-evident that a big jump in your SM stats is a good signal; we don’t tend to follow people on Twitter we’re not interested in, after all. The contestants who had fewer F&F’s before this week and fewer gains after this week should be in trouble, right? We will see tonight. But Brian’s data points to a pool of SM slackers who aren’t whom we expect to be going home: Janell Wheeler (well, maybe), Paige Miles, Todrick Hall, Michael Lynche, Haeley Vaughn and Lilly Scott. I’d say all of them are safe. So what DO we read into the SM data? Maybe Brian’s right and it’s too early to tell. Either way, I’ll keep tracking and occasionally reporting…this data might go further in quantifying the influence of social media than anything before.

Update: only Janell Wheeler went home from the social media dead pool tonight.  So what, if anything, does it mean?