While many of us seek an authentic connection with people of similar values and policy goals via social media, there are some who use the medium to create a network of fictional activists seeking to promote the goals of one side or the other.
While dirty tricks have been part and parcel of our political system from the very beginning, the tenor of this year’s campaign season has already slipped across the line at least once, and there's much concern that it'll get worse.
Traditionally, businesses avoid taking positions on public policy issues for the simple reason that their goal is to maximize sales. Taking an issue position runs the risk of alienating potential customers on the other side of that issue. But increasingly, businesses are finding that either their customer base is far more likely to favor a particular policy position or the company’s leadership has a strong position that they are willing to endorse even if it costs some customers. Regardless of the reason, it is certain that businesses need to think carefully about taking a public-facing policy position and be willing to stick to their decision. Otherwise, they likely risk a social media marketing crisis.
By now you probably know that I think there is a conversion factor between social media touches and votes. Just as campaign consultants have their conversion numbers for the number of door knocks, yard signs, handshakes and baby kisses are needed to secure one vote, there is a number for social media touches to one vote. I still don’t know the number, but each primary this season gives us another observation for our data set.
It is the Monday before the 2016 New Hampshire primary as I write this and the last opinion polls came out of the field yesterday. But the voting starts tomorrow (today, by the time you read this). So how accurate can Sunday’s poll be for predicting Tuesday’s vote? Possibly it will predict well, but things can change. Aside from some last minute SNAFU or attention-grabbing event, there is a sizable chunk of undecided or softly committed votes out there. So as the day unfolds at the polls, keep an eye on Google Trends, Facebook activity and Twitter activity for the candidates for any shifts in support.
Talk to any professor and they will proudly tell you that they do academic research. They will happily tell you what their research is about and where it is published. Being academic is a badge of honor to them. Talk to the general public, on the other hand, and they will often equate “academic” with that obscure stuff generated in ivory towers with no connection to the real world. This is clearly a marketing problem.
Twitter’s clarification of its rules regarding the posting of threats and promotion of violence raises (again) two key questions regarding how we evaluate and respond to social media posts about the use of violence to pursue extremist goals. How do we differentiate between people talking about violent extremism and people promoting it? Is it better to ban promoters of violent extremism or monitor them for intelligence gathering? In the wake of Donald Trump suggesting that we should shut down parts of the Internet and our efforts to understand the San Bernardino attack, authorities and the public are looking to social media to try to make sense of its relationship to violent extremism.
You might think that we are so deep into the social media age that every advocacy organization, policy think tank, news media outlet, political campaign, university, association, charity and foundation already fully embraces social media and optimizes their use of it across their organization. This is not true. While some organizations have developed a full-scale, enterprise level social media program that leverages all of their assets and the available tools, many more have created some portion of such a program and some are still dragging their feet to get such a program off the ground. Regardless of how far your organization has gone in this direction, you can still take it to the next level.