I think it’s now pretty clear that social media isn’t going anywhere. Once you give people the opportunity to be part of the conversation – and to start their own conversations – it will be impossible to retract. Individuals and organizations that are able to use this to their advantage, to listen to these conversations and shape their messaging accordingly, are bound to be successful.
Social Media Pollsters
Last year we saw two of the most shocking election surprises in history. First was the Brexit vote, in which the UK surprisingly voted in favour of leaving the European Union. The second came in November, when Donald Trump (much to the awe of the news networks covering the event) won the presidential election over Hillary Clinton.
The polls had been wrong.
The United Kingdom was supposed to remain a part of Europe. And Hillary was supposed to be the newest resident of the White House. All the polls had said so.
Actually not all.
Traditional telephone polls had been calling for a ‘remain’ Brexit vote and a Democratic victory, but more sophisticated polling technology – that uses artificial intelligence to examine social media – were much more accurate. Advanced Symbolics, a company based in Ottawa, correctly predicted these upset victories, as well as the Liberal’s overwhelming victory in the 2015 federal election. Erin Kelly, the president and CEO of Advanced Symbolics (and a friend of a friend), explains in this article from Policy Magazine how and why social media polling is superior to traditional methods.
I have not personally had the opportunity to use this technology but I’m a huge fan because it demonstrates just how valuable social media listening is. What would have happened if in the weeks before Nov. 8 voters knew that Hillary Clinton would likely win the popular vote but lose the electoral college and therefore the presidency? Would people in Britain have voted differently if they knew there was a serious possibility of leaving the EU?
Of course social media listening and monitoring is possible without the sophisticated equipment and fancy technology. Facebook is a great tool for anyone looking to monitor what people are saying. Almost everyone has a Facebook profile and it’s the place where people are most likely to share their opinions.
Where do I get my news?
I hate to be unoriginal and say Facebook and Twitter but: Facebook and Twitter. For breaking news from around the world there’s nothing better than these two platforms.
Almost anything that’s happening in the world will be broadcast on Twitter before anywhere else. People will tweet from a crisis before anyone else knows there’s a crisis. And reporters will tweet about a crisis before they have a story written. And even if you’re completely oblivious, the Trending Topics will tell you something big is happening. You won’t get many details with Twitter, but it’s definitely the place to find out you should be looking for them.
You can get breaking news from Facebook too but that’s not the reason I like it. Many publishers on Facebook now use the Instant Articles feature, which means that if you’re reading it on a mobile device, the loading time is almost zero. This means you can actually read the article instead of giving up after looking at a blank page refusing to load. If all you’ve got is your phone to give you information, it’s important that you’re actually able to get that information.
By following and liking the organizations you want to receive updates from, you can tailor your newsfeed to show you exactly what you want to see.
So what do you think? Will social media monitoring soon replace the traditional telephone pollsters?
Images found at Stocksnap.io and edited by me.