We’ve all seen the polls. On Brexit. On Trump. We quoted them, they were on our TV screens. They were headlines in our most thorough news channels. And they were all dead wrong. Europe woke up earlier this year with a burning headache, and a cornerstone of the EU that voted to go solo again. The USA that had prepared itself for the first female president, saw the keys of the nuclear codes being handed over to Donald Trump.
Hinssen versus Fortune
Short-attention spanned Serial Technologist Peter Hinssen was immediately heard with his catchy one liner “big data, big fail, big time”. Fortune magazine countered that view by pointing out that the prediction disaster was not a failure of data after all, but that it was -as always- a human error: a complete failure of correct forecasting and analysis. “The data was as good as it could be, but the analysis of it lacked depth. If anything, the forecasters’ spectacular and almost unanimous collective failure to see Trump’s win coming provides an opening for a more productive conversation between numbers and words, statisticians and analysts, data and message” stated Fortune. Fortune magazine did not provide however an answer on how those statisticians, analysts and reputed journalists all drew similar wrong conclusions out of the same “unflawed” datasets. Beats me. I’m with Peter on this one.
Sentiment was right
Clinton was the undisputed champion to win the Election throughout the entire campaign. The polls showed it. But, if you look closely at other datasets, another story was told all along. For most of 2016, Trump had a clear advantage over Clinton in both social engagements and positive sentiment. Marketing analytics and data firm 4C Insights 4 –who successfully predicted Brexit earlier this year based on social sentiment- showed how Trump stayed ahead even in the last month of the campaign with well over 57 million total engagements (versus 47 for Clinton). What’s more: Trump showed a clear 10 percent (48 versus 58) lead in sentiment. Enough positive sentiment to floor Hillary Clinton with a technical KO on Election Day.
King of Google, King of Twitter, King of Facebook, president of the USA
While Trump was publicly criticized for his trigger-happy and nightly use of Social Media, often in a very controversial way, it created mentions and news. His tweets became conversation starters, flashing up in on- and offline media, creating a relentless carpet-bombing of views and sentiment. His Facebook Live interventions, his consequent use of Facebook to spread his views, his addressing those issues that Americans actively search for, and his Twitter warlock strategy got him very visible and talked-about. His followers flocked around their leader on social media. I was accosted myself multiple times by Trump followers when I expressed concern on some of Donald Trump’s views on my personal social media channels. This shows how his strategy converted some followers in a hidden loyal social army.
Trump, the Obama of 2016
Just before the election Phil Ross, Socialbakers’ principal analyst pointed out on DMN’s One-on-One Podcast, how social media was a clear win for Donald Trump, and how he won the “short and sassy” communication war with Hillary on social media on almost every single engagement. Phil Ross stated on his blog on august 18th:
“(Social Media) trends seems to be failing Clinton. Instead of concentrating her resources on areas where she can deliver an emotional message immediately, via longer text and imagery, her most frequent activity is to post policy links on a platform Trump dominates anyway. No matter what causes each spike in activity and engagement for either campaign, one thing is clear: the social media advantage that famously helped power President Obama’s electoral victories now appears to be on Trump’s side.”
It’s not about fact, it’s about emotion
Most of Donald Trump’s statements are controversial, at the least. Fact checkers could not type fast enough to show the inaccuracies, inconsistencies, errors and straight-out lies in Trump’s reasoning. Clinton was on the ball every time to point those out. The hard lesson learned is that in a war on sentiment, facts driven strategies do not matter. You cannot beat emotion with fact in a 140 character statement.
As every outlaw in the wild wild west knew already a century ago: if you bring a (fact driven) knife to a (emotional) gunfight, you are going to bite the dust.
I wish you a social media strategy for 2017, that has the right, balanced focus on building emotional connections.