The polls were wrong. The media was wrong. Pretty much all of us were wrong. Or were we?
TRA managing director Andrew Lewis claims Trump’s support was real – and one only had to look at social media to understand why. “One of the most powerful things of social media is it captures a more honest view,” he says. “If you look at all the comments made regarding Trump or Clinton on the Facebook pages of New Zealand news outlets (e.g., news hub, TVNZ etc), you’ll see that Trump has consistently had a higher level of positive sentiment than Clinton.”
While Lewis’ analysis doesn’t take into account the possibility of “bot” accounts or fake social media profiles manipulating opinion (much has been made of the Russian government’s role in the US election, particularly in regards to fake accounts and other forms of propaganda on social media thanks to state-supported organisations like the Internet Research Agency, paid-for social media followers, and the poisonous effects of alt right trolls rapidly supporting Trump and doing their best to frighten Clinton supporters enough so they would be too scared to vote), he says social media “echo chambers” meant it was often difficult for individual users to meaningfully interact with supporters of other candidates other than their preferred choice. “For the individual, social media is an echo chamber. It brings like-minded people together.”
And that echo chamber, he says, proved disastrous for Clinton. “Trump was always the most popular option. Even in New Zealand, the sentiment towards Trump was more positive than towards Clinton. This is the power of social to surface the feelings of people they might not be willing to share in another forum.”
That’s where TRA’s wholly-owned subsidiary Zavy can help, Lewis claims. He says the platform can analyse trends on social media with a macro – as opposed to a micro – view, which could prove especially important to large businesses and organisations. “Zavy is the only one that’s putting together a global view of what’s happening in a space,” he says. “It’s about the next horizon of social media analytics.”
Lewis claims the platform has already found success. “It’s going great. We’ve got great clients in New Zealand, and a few in Australia. But we want to take it to the world.”
In order to do that, Zavy is currently amidst a push to raise a minimum of $250,000 on crowdfunding site Crowdsphere by 28 November. So far, it has raised $44,000 from eight backers.
“It’s an exciting market with huge potential,” says Lewis. “It’s a market that’s rapidly expanding.”
With social media predicted to be the most important marketing channel by 2020, that would indeed appear to be the case. But if this election has taught us anything, it’s that predictions can be terribly wrong.