Predicting the winner of Eurovision 2016 with social media

Hello Stockholm! This is MintTwist Digital Agency in London calling. The Eurovision Song Contest 2016 is only hours away and …

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Alexis Pratsides


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Hello Stockholm! This is MintTwist Digital Agency in London calling.

The Eurovision Song Contest 2016 is only hours away and we excited to welcome you once again to Eurovision predictions using social media.

In 2015, we accurately predicted Mans Zelmerlow winning for Sweden with Heroes. In fact, we also accurately predicted the result in 2013 and predicted Austria would come second in 2014.

So join us as we take a look at the movers and the shakers of the ESC 2016 and who is looking good at triumphing.

This year might be too close to call with three top entries all looking to be in contention.

Algorithm for the Eurovision social media predictions

We have used our own algorithm based on several different social media metrics to make the predictions.

These are combined and weighted differently and then given the exact same points as used by the Eurovision Song Contest: 12 for 1st, 10 for 2nd, and then 8 through to 1.

Social channels we use include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, social media mentions and so on.

Last year we updated our algorithm to include Spotify. And never to rest on our laurels, this year we’re including Instagram. The visual social network had 300 million users in December 2014 and is hugely popular. It’s interesting to see so many of the contestants use Instagram, more so than Twitter.

Also, as a side note, we have only used the official channels and the official videos on the Eurovision Song Contest YouTube channel. There are instances where we haven’t been able to find the official Twitter account for an artist as an example and they won’t be included in that algorithm calculation.

Eurovision Spotify Plays

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Spotify plays are dominated by Nordic countries and in particular Sweden’s Frans. This is perhaps not surprising, considering Spotify is a Swedish company. Last year’s winner Mans Zelmerlow completely dominated the Spotify metrics. Sweden aren’t predicted to win again this year, but they are predicted to do fairly well.

But following on from the semi-finals, Sweden is the only Nordic country to make the final (and were also automatic qualifiers).

Germany, Spain and the Netherlands appear highly. France, Russia and Australia also feature.

We have also included statistics from Spotify itself which provided its own popularity scores.

Eurovision YouTube Plays

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YouTube continues to grow in importance and popularity and we have continued to see year-on-year increases in YouTube views and engagement.

This year there are 6 contestants with more than 4 million views and France’s Amir, one of the favourites to win, has over 5 million.

Last year at the time of our predictions, only Russia’s Polina Gagarina had over 6 million views, Azerbaijan had 5.5 million and Albania had over 2 million but the growth in YouTube sees no signs of stopping..

France, Malta, Poland and Australia all lead the YouTube views with Azerbaijan and Armenia also performing strongly.

Conversely, Russia has not dominated this year’s YouTube statistics despite it being one of the hot favourites. However, Sweden didn’t feature in the top 10 YouTube plays last year and still managed to win (and as our predicted winners).

Eurovision YouTube Likes

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France dominates the YouTube likes, as it does with its total plays. Interestingly there is a big difference in plays and likes. Russia and Australia both rank higher for likes than their plays ratings. Russia moves up two places and Australia one.

Ukraine, currently second favourite to win, does not pick up any points for its YouTube traction, although it does have the second highest YouTube likes to plays ratios.

Eurovision Twitter Followers

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Russia, Italy, Australia, France and the Netherlands make up the top 5 contests for Twitter followers.

Russia’s Sergey Lazarev has a significant lead of his nearest rival with over 750,000 followers. Ireland’s Nicky Byrne and one time Westlife idol had come second with over 400,000 but was eliminated in the semi-finals.

Twitter has been fully embraced by the EBU and there are special hashtags you can use to showcase your favourite entrants. But, many contestants continue to undervalue the power Twitter could bring to their campaigns.

Eurovision Instagram Followers

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Instagram is a new metric we’ve included in our algorithm this year and already it’s looking like it will be influential.

Instagram allows the contestants to promote not only visual content but also video clips of songs and performances. Long gone are the days when you would have no idea who (or what to be fair) was going to grace the Eurovision stage.

Nowadays many countries announce their entrants very early which allows the contestants to build momentum, get the song promoted and win new fans.

This year, Russia’s Sergey completely dominates the social platform like he does with Twitter. Clearly Russia are taking this very seriously after their close wins in recent years and coming 2nd last year with Polina Gagarina’s rousing ballad, A Million Voices.

Italy often sends some of their biggest stars and they often have strong social media followings which means Francesca Michielin appears second. Although Italy often does well (featuring in the top 10 in the last five years and finishing 3rd last year with Il Volo’s Grande Amore, social media popularity doesn’t always translate into Eurovision success.

Eurovision Facebook Likes

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Italy, again, comes first and Francesca ranks highly with over 400,000 likes. Australia’s Dami Im comes second followed by Sergey Lazarev coming third.

Facebook likes don’t always translate into success, and in particular for Italy it doesn’t seem to do enough to carry them over the finish line but it is interesting to see Australia and Russia, both two of the favourites, doing quite well.

Final Eurovision Song Contest 2016 Predicted Winner

Position Country Contestant Song Points
1st Russia Sergey Lazarev You Are the Only One 92
2nd France Amir J’ai cherché 89
3rd Australia Dami Im Sound of Silence 86
4th Italy Francesca Michielin No Degree of Separation 57
5th Sweden Frans If I Were Sorry 53
6th Spain Barei Say Yay! 53
6th Malta Ira Losco Walk on Water 44
8th The Netherlands Douwe Bob Slow Down 42
9th Armenia Iveta Mukuchyan LoveWave 31
10th Poland Michal Szpak Color of Your Life 25

So we have our winner! Russia’s Sergey Lazarev narrowly wins our prediction with France’s Amir coming second and Australia’s Dami Im coming third. But the points differences are tiny. Just six points separate the top three and just 3 points between Russia and France. Of course anything can happen on the night but it looks like a three horse race between France, Russia and Australia.

Italy and Sweden round out the top 5.

Interestingly, Ukraine does not feature highly in our analysis even though they are one of the favourites to win with Jamala’s powerful and emotive ballad getting a lot of media coverage and a big favourite with the press.

Italy make the top 5 thanks to Francesca’s strong social media presence but aren’t expected to win.

Sweden come fifth and are also predicted to do fairly well.

Top 5 Eurovision Prediction Breakdown

1st – Russia – Sergey Lazarev, You Are the Only One

Eurovision Predictions - Russia

The current favourite to win comes first in our predictions as well, and overcomes his weaker popularity on YouTube and Spotify.

Sergey may very well do enough to secure the crown but it will be a difficult challenge. The EBU have had to use anti-booing technology such has been the feeling in the Eurovision stadium towards Russia but Sergey might well be the one to beat and send the trophy back to Russia for the first time since 2008.

It’s worth noting that Russia is very popular in the Song Contest, having coming second twice in the last five years and finished in the top 10 each year since 2012.

2nd – France – Amir, J’ai cherché

Eurovision Predictions - France

One of the bookies’ favourites to win, France has had a turbulent time at Eurovision as of late.

Since 2012 they’ve not appeared higher than 22nd and in 2014 they came last. This year the look to fair far better with Amir’s popular song J’ai cherché. Russia remains the bookies’ favourite but France might stage an upset!

3rd – Australia – Dami Im, Sound of Silence

Eurovision Predications - Australia

Australia’s participation remains controversial, perhaps even more so now that the invitation to the Contest wasn’t just a one-off.

I, for one, am happy at their inclusion and Dami brings one of this year’s stand out ballads to the table.

It’d be a surprise if she wins the competition but she is current second favourite to win although and might do enough to clinch it but we should expect her to come higher than Guy Sebastian’s very respectable fifth last year.

4th – Italy – Francesca Michielin, No Degree of Separation

Eurovision Predictions - Italy

Francesca’s No Degree of Separation isn’t currently tracking as one of the favourites but her social media klout helps her rank highly.

She doesn’t rank that highly for our key algorithm metrics, but picks up points on social and some lower level popularity metrics which has helped her leapfrog the competition with our social media analysis.

5th – Sweden – Frans, If I Were Sorry

Eurovision Predictions - Sweden

Sweden’s Frans has one of the most popular songs based on our social media analysis and is currently outperforming even some of the other favourites in these metrics.

We predict a top 5 finish (or at least top 10) for Sweden but it would be a surprise if they win.

Eurovision Predictions Caveat

The competition looks like it’s too close to call and France and Russia are neck and neck with Australia also in the mix.

However, there are many things that influence Eurovision and it’s important to also consider these before you put any bets on.

  • Draw of performance: historically it’s difficult to win from the first half of the draw. Although Conchita Wurst and Mans Zelmerlow both won from being drawn 11th and 10th The ESC’s switch to planning the order of performances might well be having a positive effect on ensuring no song is forgotten about or overshadowed.
  • Language: Serbia’s Marija Serifovic win in 2007 with Molitva was the last time a song won that wasn’t in English. Russia’s entry is in English and much has been made about France’s entry being partly in English (for a country with a council dedicated to the French language, this is a big thing).
  • Stage performance: This is a huge part of Eurovision now. Conchita’s Rise Like a Phoenix performance was elevated to another level by its backdrop and use of pyrotechnics, and who can forget Mans’ charming use of the screen. Clearly the Eurovision fans expect more and more from the contestants. A good song is no longer good enough.
  • The semi-finals: Since their introduction, the influence and popularity of the semi-finals continues to grow. Songs that may have been overlooked can leapfrog the competition once people see the live performance. It also gives contestants an opportunity to build momentum going into the final week with the people most likely to vote.
  • New voting system: This year the EBU is using a new voting system which gives equal weighting to the televote and the jury. Previously, the scores were combined which meant songs could receive points based on either the televote or the jury which meant sometimes songs that performed well with televoters ultimately underperformed if the jury didn’t vote for them.
  • It’s live: Finally, anything can happen on the night – someone might fall over, forget their words or be horrifically out of tune (here’s looking at you Jemini).

Emerging social media trends in the Eurovision Song Contest


Instagram is a new addition to our analysis and we can already see it performing extremely well. In a way it has really transformed the engagement with the contestants, their fans and their promotional campaigns.

Instagram feels like a more natural fit to Eurovision than Twitter and Facebook with its strong focus on imagery and video (and also perhaps most importantly audio).


This year Spotify has continued to show some interesting results but is perhaps too weighted on the countries with strong Spotify penetration. In fact, Spotify has released different results from the ones in our algorithm where the top five is made up of Sweden, France, Russia, Spain and then Australia.

The fact that Spotify is releasing this data itself also shows how integral pre-contest streaming has become to the competition.

Growth in YouTube

YouTube continues to go from strength to strength and this year’s figures completely dominate our historic analysis.

In 2015 there was a total of 44,729,812 plays of the finalists. This year we have 65,200,647!

In 2013 there was a total of just 12 million plays for all of the contestants, this year the top two videos (France and Poland) have over 10 million between them.


So there we have it! We’re only hours away from having a new Eurovision winner. Who do you think will win? Who do you want to win? Tell us in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!

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You can follow me on Twitter @seocolin.

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Alexis Pratsides

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