Lil Wayne Death Scare Sends Him Flying on Social 50 Chart

The MC, released from the hospital this week, reaches his highest position on the chart.

Lil Wayne soars on Billboard's Social 50 tally this week, ascending 19-2 and subsequently achieving his highest position to date after TMZ reported that the rap star was on his deathbed (March 15). He hasn't been in the top 10 since the tally dated Oct. 27, 2012.

The Social 50 chart ranks the most popular artists on YouTube, Vevo, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Wikipedia, Myspace and Instagram. The chart's methodology blends weekly additions of friends/fans/followers along with artist pageviews, song plays and reactions.

After TMZ reported that the rapper was on the verge of death at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Friday, March 15, the social universe exploded. That report was soon refuted on Twitter by Young Money Entertainment co-founder and Wayne's longtime friend Mack Maine, and then Lil Wayne's own Twitter account. The series of events created an immense surge of social media activity.

On March 15, the amount of daily mentions of Lil Wayne on Twitter increased 1,360% to 771,000 as reports of his condition took the social web by storm, according to Topsy Analytics.

A few hours after TMZ first reported Lil Wayne was in "critical condition," Wayne's Twitter account put fears to rest by tweeting "I'm good everybody. Thx for the prayers and love" at 6:28 p.m. PST. Wayne's Tweet garnered more than twenty times the average number of retweets his previous 10 updates had earned: it was retweeted 194,000 times.

Lil Wayne didn't post any news regarding the incident on his Facebook page, but conversation about the artist still soared on the platform the night of the 15th. That day, 541,000 individuals talked about or engaged with updates about the artist -- a 57% increase over the prior seven days, according to Next Big Sound.

However, the news event did not trigger a gain for Lil Wayne's album sales in the week ending March 17. His combined 10 studio albums (including a collaborations set with Birdman) sold just over 6,000 for the week -- a decline of 6% compared to the week previous, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Elsewhere on the Social 50 chart this week, Mexican pop star Belinda makes her Social 50 debut at No. 45. On March 12, her official video for "En La Obscuridad" was featured on the site's homepage, which boosted the video past 8 million total views.

The exposure caused a 153% growth in weekly fan acquisition with the addition of 5,000 new Facebook fans (up 17%) and 211,000 new Twitter followers. The video's popularity contributed to over 4 million plays to her channel for the week (up 32%) and the overall exposure contributed to 16% rise in weekly visits to her Wikipedia page.

A couple steps below Belinda is Lindsey Stirling, who makes a re-entry at No. 48. Her cover of Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" (with Pentatonix) debuted on March 12 and earned 2.4 million views on YouTube during the charting week. Also adding to her score was the addition of 127,000 new fans (up 119% from the previous week).

As for the top 10 this week, Justin Bieber remains at No. 1 while Rihanna (2-3) and One Direction (3-4) are displaced by Lil Wayne's spike to No. 2. Taylor Swift manages to increase her standing by one position (6-5) after releasing the video for "22" on March 13, which has received 11.6 million views on VEVO to date. Justin Timberlake's standing wanes (5-6), but is expected to increase next week as a result of the release of his "20/20 Experience" album. Bruno Mars rises (9-7) over Britney Spears, who tumbles (4-8). Eminem rises a notch (10-9) while Nicki Minaj slides (8-10).