Music Marketing

Gangnam Style: Analysis Of A Viral Video

Nic_profile_updatedBy Nic Robertson (@nicjrobertson), online obsessionist & co-founder of Jaden Social.

Two weeks ago we posted a Gangnam Style infographic up on our blog and have had a really fantastic response from many of our readers regarding the content and design, as well as a few questions about what it all means. We love questions.

In fact, that’s pretty much why we got into this whole Social Media business in the first place. So if you’re keen to know more, come take a stroll with me and let’s delve a little deeper into the stats.

Gangnam Style: Analysis of a Viral Video

At the time this infographic was published, the total level of engagement on the Gangnam Style video was 1.264% – that is, more than one percent of viewers either liked, disliked or commented on the video, or subscribed to the channel.

Unfortunately there is no way to know exactly how many users performed more than one of the above actions (eg liked AND commented, commented AND subscribed), nor how many of the channel subscriptions came directly as a result of a user watching the Gangnam video; but let’s attempt to deduce what we can from the data that is available.


Facebook vs Twitter

Ah, the age long battle between the blue team and the, ummm, slightly-different-shade-of-blue team. So I guess the question on everyone’s lips is, was Facebook or Twitter more instrumental in the success of Gangnam Style’s virality?

With Facebook’s active usership estimated to be 1 billion at the close of 2012, this means approximately 2.6% of all Facebookers have now shared the Gangnam Style video.

With around 150 million active users on Twitter, this means approximately 0.8% of all Twitterers have tweeted about Gangnam Style to date.

What we have seen time and time again is that information travels like lightning on Twitter, so it makes sense that the initial seeding of the video occurred primarily on Twitter.

But despite much of the early buzz and momentum being created using that loveable little blue bird, Facebook is arguably the more visual of the two platforms – therefore it really is no surprise that Facebook saw a significantly higher rate of sharing than Twitter overall.


What is a True Fan?

While it is interesting to compare the total number of fans PSY has gained on each platform, this data can also be somewhat misleading.

Allow me to explain why…

When judging the Social Media impact of Gangnam Style by comparing the net amount of fans PSY has on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, we are making one fatal assumption – that the total number of users is identical on all three platforms.


YouTube and Facebook actually have 5, and close to 7 times the amount of active users that Twitter does respectively, so the Gangnam shockwave was always going to spread much farther across the former two platforms.

But a far truer representation of the Gangnam impact can be made by comparing the total number of PSY fans on each platform with the total (approximate) number of active users that platform has.

So here goes:



2,072,665 PSY subscribers /

800,000,000 active users =




4,125,318 PSY Likes /

1,000,000,000 active users =




1,649,836 PSY followers /

150,000,000 active users =



So to recap in plain English: while the highest number of PSY fans are found on Facebook, the relative percentage of users who follow PSY on Twitter is actually much more than both Facebook and YouTube combined.

What this tells me is that despite a lower rate of sharing, Twitter users are still more likely to become ‘true’ fans of PSY than Facebook and YouTube users – who were perhaps in it moreso for the ‘quick-fuck’ – instant gratification, and the whole viral appeal of the situation.


What about YouTube?

While YouTube may have been the originator of all this viral hoo-ha, the red team certainly didn’t take the trophy home for fan retention. At 0.26% subscription rate, YouTube converted by far the lowest rate of fans of the three platforms. There are a number of factors which would have no doubt contributed to this:

  1. High number of users not signed in – safe to say the vast majority of YouTubers are not signed in when viewing videos, and therefore unable to comment or subscribe. Google’s constant & murderous attempts to link its users’ various profiles certainly haven't helped the situation either.
  2. Many views from mobile – the current YouTube mobile layout means that signed in or not, it is extremely difficult to engage with videos or subscribe to a channel. Fingers crossed our buddies at YouTube will find a way to effectively peel this pickle in the near future.
  3. External video embedding – Facebook, Twitter and any other sites which allow embedding mean that often users are not viewing a video on YouTube, making it much more difficult to entice a follow-up action.
  4. Difficulty of subscribing – up until recently, users would need to click through to the channel hosting a video in order to subscribe. The good news is that YouTube has now slapped the subscribe button directly onto the dashboard underneath each video, so expect to see subscription rates spike in future.



From the considerable Gangnam Style research and analysis we undertook during the creation of this infographic, there were undoubtedly plenty of interesting discoveries made.

Let’s recap on the key takeaways, just in case you were skimming.

1. Not a lot can be deduced by simply comparing the net amount of fans PSY has on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter; the rabbit hole goes much deeper. To get a clear picture of the Social spread of PSY’s fanbase, we need to look at how many users are active on each platform and compare this to his total number of fans.

2. Facebook has had a significantly higher rate of sharing than Twitter, most likely due to the visual nature of the platform and greater ease of sharing.

3. Despite Facebook’s clear-cut victory in the sharing department, Twitter users are still more likely to connect with PSY than Facebook or YouTube users – although I’m sure many fans would be just as likely to do all three.

4. YouTube’s ability to retain fans for PSY well and truly got served by both Facebook and Twitter. This would have been largely due to a number of factors which include users not being signed in, views from mobile, external embedding and poor UI design.

Hopefully this post has helped to explain the Gangnam phenomenon a little more, and shed some light on the who, what and why of PSY’s fanbase and sharing habits.

As always, hit us back with questions and feedback!

Catch you on the flip.

Nic Robertson


About the author: Nic is the managing director & co-founder of Jaden Social, a creative Digital marketing agency based in Sydney, Australia. If you are interested in hearing more from Nic, he runs a weekly blog on the Jaden Social website dedicated to helping musicians market their music for free using Social Media. He has also written an in-depth guide on 'How to Market your Music on Twitter' which you can check out here.

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  1. Thanks for the stats. A big question for me is how much the parody videos helped drive virility of the original. Did they help make it more popular at all, if so, how important were they? Psy was reportedly ok with people making spoofs and remixes and there are 3,518 of them listed on this site alone.
    My guess is that the parodies helped spread the song into new communities, and give it a longer viral life span.
    As an example, check our own Gangnam Greenpeace Style. I know a bunch of the people in it, so I showed it around a lot (including at parties). I was surprised by how many people hadn’t seen the original. They new about it, but weren’t interested until they saw a parody (that effectively connected the song to one of their interests). Then, of course, they wanted to see the original for comparison.
    That’s all anecdotal though. Don’t know what stats would back it up.

  2. How about FAKE twitter followers Nic?
    Adding that they used youtube bot to increase their views.
    ….YouTube and Facebook actually have 5, and close to 7 times the amount of active users that Twitter does respectively….
    YouTube: 2,072,665 PSY subscribers / 800,000,000 active users =
    Facebook: 4,125,318 PSY Likes/1,000,000,000 active users=
    Twitter: 1,649,836 PSY followers / 150,000,000 activeusers =
    According to your article his Twitter followers should have been 0.05 % but it is 1.10%
    That’s IMPOSSIBLE which means those twitter followers are FAKE!!!

  3. You think that people are stupid but we are NOT!
    They used a BOT to increase Youtube Views for his artists.
    They can only fool themselves, Psy is the most FAKE and UNTALENTED person ever!

  4. What Really Happened to Sony and Universal’s 2 Billion Missing YouTube Views?
    What a stupid Question…
    Of course its PSY’S 1 BILLION FAKE VIEWS

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