American Idol has announced the launch of a new online voting system that will begin tonight after the first half of the top 24 contestants complete their performance. The catch is you will have to be a Facebook user to log in and vote on the website.
The official announcement on the new voting options for American Idol's Season 10 came out last week with the news that beginning March 1, fans of the popular show could begin voting online immediately following Tuesday's broadcast.
American Idol said, "Fans will continue to be able to vote via toll-free phone lines, as well as unlimited text-message votes for AT&T wireless customers during the voting window."
To access the online voting option fans will need to visit the official American Idol website and follow the simple directions. This will include logging in to your Facebook account through their site and viewing the voting page, which will feature the name and photo of each of the current twenty-four contestants eligible for votes. After making a selection and completing the security verification feature, fans will then need to click submit to cast their official vote.
Creator and Executive producer Simon Fuller said in the announcement, "We have been wanting to do online voting for several years, and now Facebook has offered us a secure solution and we are ready to go. The show has always involved a high level of engagement with its viewers through texting and phone voting, and it’s great to expand on this tradition."
Schwartz Communications, whose researchers claim to be avid fans, said, "The two keys to winning American Idol are great performances and a great fan base." And this year, with the addition of online voting, the necessary fan base numbers on Facebook may be the the key to winning the competition.
The team at Schwartz Research Group (SRG) "decided to take a look at which contestants are already using social media to reach out to their fans, and who has an engaged, grassroots campaign already underway" and they have shared the results of their 'look inside the Facebook fan base.'
"All of the Top 24 contestants have some Facebook presence," says SRG, and "66% had some form of Twitter presence. Tim Halperin, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina are the three most popular Season 10 American Idol contestants on the social media" network, based on friends, likes and followers.
"There is a definite gap between many of the contestants" says the report from the Schwartz fans, with Tatynisa Wilson, Rachel Zevita and Clint Jun Gamboa listed as the bottom three with the least overall social media fan engagement."
Profile, videos and pictures for American Idol's Top 24 can be seen here.
The 12 male semifinalists take the stage for the first time Tuesday night and the 12 female semifinalists will perform the following night, Wednesday, March 2. The season’s finalists will be announced Thursday, March 3, on FOX TV's broadcast of American Idol.
According to American Idol, "After each show and during the online voting window, fans may cast up to 50 total online votes each for that evening's performances. Only fans with a registered Facebook account in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will be able to cast their vote(s) online."
Billboard reports, "The move by American Idol will ramp up the show's producers direct access to many of its most-engaged fans. American Idol's Facebook page already has more than 4.7 million "friends."