As the election race continues to heat up, the SoGrow team have got all excited about something else. Unless you’ve lived under a social media rock, you’re probably aware by now that the new series of House of Cards has arrived. To give a brief summary of the series for those who haven’t watched it, the show follows protagonist Frank Underwood’s unique and shadowed path to the presidency.
The 10 word summary: This show displays what happens when POTUS and FUBAR merge.
(If you’re not an acronym expert, it’s maybe best to check over your shoulder before you click that…).
A key feature of this year’s real-world race has been the roles of social media and online communities. With Bernie Sanders raising over $40million in one month, politicians can’t avoid online channels anymore. Debates have consistently trended on Twitter, and offered candidates a chance to row back or fact-check after the event – giving candidates even more range with which to land a punch or deflect a blow. But with this in mind, we ask ourselves – if Frank Underwood had Twitter, what would it look like? And of our current contenders, where are their profiles strong, and where are they weak?
With such a divided field, and in the interest of not boring our readers to tears, we’ll take the three most likely candidates – Trump, Cruz, and Rubio.
Where he’s strong:
Trump is always keen to speak his mind, and happy to put his own name to things. Whether you agree with his opinion or not is a different issue, but his constant attack stream makes it difficult for opponents to gain an advantage on social media. As soon as he has points scored against him on one issue, he’s able to find another to shift the focus. This is an art, and say what you will about Trump – he’s not stupid.
Where he’s weak:
Trump is always keen to speak his mind, and happy to put his own name to things. But, writer, you said that was where he’s strong?! Exactly. The problem with being as active on so many positions as Trump is on Twitter, is that sooner or later it’ll always backfire. Whether it’s a spelling mistake, or whether it’s a block capital loaded press of the panic button, Trump can be his own worst enemy.
Where he’s strong:
Cruz is fighting hard to support traditional areas of Republican voter pride, and given his performance in last night’s debate, it suggests he’s starting to build momentum. Whether this is enough, time will tell, but his inclusive rhetoric on Twitter is a marked difference from other candidates – and could position well in a fight against Clinton’s “Make America Whole Again” message.
Where he’s weak:
Attacking the front-runner candidate is rarely a bad plan. What creates an issue, is when you have to spend so much time trying to bring them down that you neglect your own message. There’s a balance to maintain here, between tearing down a rival’s barricade (or wall…), and promoting your personal brand. We feel Mr Cruz has struggled with this, and needs to start pushing himself as a better alternative – hope often beats fear.
Where he’s strong:
Rubio is the type of Republican that should play well with their younger voters, and has pushed his belief in millennials hard. Indeed, his newer approach to take on Trump with sophomore type jokes will serve to strengthen this position, and shows he’s prepared to fight in the trenches.
Where he’s weak:
Rubio’s Twitter feed has become filled with nothing but anti-Trump messages. While this may help him towards the Republican nomination, it doesn’t help the early general election message. Rubio must be careful to ensure he’s known as more than “the guy who makes fun of Trump” – and essentially, start looking like a president, instead of a message candidate.
The fight goes on, within America continuing to “Feel The Bern” despite state losses. There’s still twists and turns in the road before the nomination, or according to some sources, coronation. So let’s have a look at where the pair stand;
Where she’s strong:
Clinton’s campaign have an excellent understanding of visual media – and not only visual media, but how to be funny through it. Comedy might not win a presidency, but it makes her significantly more personable – helping her start to shed the Wall Street Hillary tag. If keeping up the momentum on Twitter, she might start to win over some of Sanders grass-roots campaigners – and deliver the fatal blow.
Where she’s weak:
An interesting message, given the articles about Goldman Sachs donations. Clinton has to work hard to be seen as more than a franchise candidate, or a safe pair of hands. In other words, she needs to inspire – and her Twitter content is on the whole humorous and easily shared, it doesn’t fit the media narrative. Something has to change, otherwise there’s an imbalance and the attacks over her lack of consistency will continue.
Where he’s strong:
Bernie’s popularity with young voters, a demographic often turned off by politics, has defied expectations. The strength of a grass-roots campaign that has snowballed to the stage where he has a slim but real path to the nomination is remarkable. The way his campaign has run will allow him to last longer in the race than many would have expected, and his donors can afford to give again. The longer the campaign rolls on, the more the message will get out – but will it be interesting enough?
Where he’s weak:
As a grass-roots powered candidate, it’s disappointing to see that he takes no personal involvement with his Twitter campaign. While in some ways this may add to his charm, it does beg the question as to whether he’s ready for the younger voter, despite the younger voter clearly being ready for him.
Tired of your business being beaten by the 0.1%? So are we.
You probably don’t know us. We don’t really know you. Yet what’s strange is, through social media, we can know almost all there is to know about each other in a matter of minutes – everything from where you went on holiday 3 years ago, to that time you spilled coffee on the office floor and put a photo of it on Instagram. That’s powerful information. Some of it’s pointless. Some of it’s scary. Above all, it’s valuable information. And that’s why it’s so important to have a system in place that’s capable of using and interpreting it in a way that makes sure you and your business survive way beyond the final rise of the robots.
Fortunately, you’re John Connor and we’re the T-800 (That’s The Terminator, in case you wondered – the friendly one, of course!). SoGrow is here from the future to protect you and boost the social profiles of small business. We live in a world where massive corporations and political figures will throw millions of pounds at targeting you, and knowing everything they possibly can – from when you’re most active on social media, the content you share, the websites you’re most likely to visit, the candidate you’ll vote for. Some of what they have access to, as well as how effective their predictor models are, would not only make your skin crawl – it would make you reach for the nearest tin foil hat. We’re proud to say that despite having access to the same tools, our company have never turned to the darker side of social media when working with high profile clients – and we aren’t going to.
According to the FSB, SMEs make up 99.9% of all private sector businesses, and SMEs employ 60% of all private sector employees. And yet, SMEs provide under half of all private sector turnover for the UK – 47%. Which means 53% of private sector turnover comes from 0.1% of business – and that’s not fair. It’s a statistic belonging of the old world, and we want to give small business the tools to reclaim a bigger share of the turnover through competing on social media.
“Big data” is an odd phrase. It feels as though since 2008, it’s been the biggest buzzword in every circle, from finance to market research. It’s crept into politics, and businesses that can’t manage it are finding themselves struggling to last the pace. Small business must be given a chance to not only catch up, but grow beyond the struggling behemoths. We want to use our powers to help community enterprises compete with multi-billion pound corporations. We’ve seen the power of social media – and we’re determined to take it to the masses. But to do that, we need people to know who we are, and what we do. Which is why we ask you to let us help your small business by pressing our social media hands firmly on your side of the scale. Together, let’s get your brand the recognition it deserves.
US Elections have always fascinated us here in the UK. It brings a sense of carnival fun and excitement that we’ve never quite managed to master. However at SoDash, there’s been one subject that we’ve found of particular interest – the role of Big Data.
Political data analysis and SoDash have gone hand in hand before, having produced extensive findings around the Scottish Referendum – ranging from which side were most active, down to which posters were most prone to swearing. However it appears that social media and politics have now moved to the next stage – where social media becomes a way of targeting potential voters.
We had seen the beginnings of this in the UK to some extent with the “Corbynistas“, the name given to the huge body of Jeremy Corbyn social media supporters who through various channels were able to connect with large swathes of the UK’s younger population – a generation which traditionally, took little to do with politics. By presenting a candidate who has forever been seen as an establishment outsider to a group that was already weary of politics, a grassroots movement was born. This movement defied all initial forecasts to catapult Corbyn into the political stratosphere, and would see him forming the official opposition – in spite of some discontented voices within his own party. And so we look across the pond, and can see this story repeating itself – albeit on a less organic scale.
Elections are rarely won on the merits of the airwaves alone. Families still often vote together, and the best way to reach them – espcially in remote areas – is through local communities and an active number of volunteers. The “ground game” this year, has taken on a new edge. In the face of Trump expectations and predictions, Ted Cruz swept to the front of the Republican field in the Iowa caucuses and won. Elections in the USA are a long-run affair, and while this far from guarantees Mr Cruz the nomination, it does cement his presence on the big stage. But his use of social media big data to hit voters with microtargeted adverts was unprecedented. Through an approach of data behaviour modelling, the Cruz campaign were able to make their ground campaign the best informed of all – they could know the chances of securing their support before a conversation even started, and had access to a range of informative social media data on the target. This allowed them to focus on mobilising their most active followers, and engaging with their highest potential recruits – while the others remained scattered, with an unfocused approach. As caucuses are essentially won through having as many people as possible sit in a room for a long time (though a more thorough guide can be found here), only the most passionate are going to see it out – it’s not just about how many could vote for you, it’s about having the most committed supporters – and this is where Cruz found his chance.
If we look at the other side of the fence, the Democrats seem set to continue to “Feel the Bern” for the forseeable future, as Sanders continues to defy expectations and remain neck and neck with Hillary Clinton. In a manner similar to Corbyn’s successful engagement of younger voters, it appears that social media presence is increasingly influential in measuring the success of a political campaign. The themes for success that Corbyn and Sanders share are easily seen – both were outsiders and non-conformists, both have attracted an unprecedented grass-roots movement, and both have found extensive funding from those with less to spare. Contrast the figures spent by Sanders to that of Clinton and Bush, and it becomes clear that the value lies in social media.
The question therefore, is what comes next? Corbyn has found life difficult since being sent to the front benches, will Sanders have the same struggle as the race goes on? Will money come to win the day and provide the staying power for the likes of Bush to survive long enough as gain momentum? Will other parties who are seeing their numbers rising look to employ a similar strategy to Cruz, in order to enhance their perceived performance in the debates (Mr Rubio and Trump, we’re looking at you here). The lines between what is ethical, acceptable, legal and responsible will always blur when a major political campaign gets moving. With the increased inclusion of big data, we’re unsure whether to be excited or fearful for where the road ahead will lead us. But what we are sure of, is that the road ahead will be long. Very, very long.