Data whispering presidential elections

It’s interesting to find the correlations between social media data and unexpected results during major elections. The power of the crowd is growing.

I found an amazing data whisperer, Stephens-Davidowitz aka @seththoughts on Twitter – a NY Times opinion writer and former Google Scientist. And he alerted me to the real scoop of yesterday’s New Hampshire caucus:

The interesting part is not the fact that one or the other candidate is trending – it is the timing and context that makes it so remarkable. 

People appeared to be considering John Kasich and investigating what he stands for, only when the first primary result in the little town of Dixville Notch showed Kasich beating Donald Trump 3-2. New Hampshire residents started googling him. A lot. Take a look:

 

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If you click on the link to the Google Trends comparison @seththoughts prepared when he started to notice the correlations, there is a clear spike where Google Searches on John Kasich increased dramatically right after the reports of the surprise win in the first result came in. It happened between 7 pm and 8.30 pm.

Can you predict election results with social media?

Of course, it’s never straight forward. This interesting paper by a group of computer scientists at Wellesley College ON THE PREDICTABILITY OF THE U.S. ELECTIONS THROUGH SEARCH VOLUME ACTIVITY concludes that Google Trends was not a good predictor of the outcome of the 2008 and 2010 elections. But the limitation of only focusing on one parameter – in this case Google Searches out of context and time – was clear to them even then:

Nevertheless, if there is a widespread belief among the journalists that G-trends have such a predictive power, it may not be long before it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, influencing voters’ decisions: reassuring and exciting some, while discouraging others from voting in pursuit of a lost battle.

Perhaps that is what happened on the night, when John Kasich became a plausible contester (and perhaps by many an alternative they had been hoping for) when he won the first published result from the tiny town of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire over Donald Trump.

Make the data speak – listen and engage when it really matters

Opinion polls seem to have a strong influence on how politicians formulate their campaigns and whether or not they believe they can win.

But with social media, there is a source much more reliable than disturbing phone calls during family dinners.

What candidates might consider, is to steer away from listening only to news anchors and sponsored social media posts and to engage with the crowd itself. In Iowa, Bernie Sanders’ campaigners went door knocking – the next step is to transform the knowledge gained into actionable political strategy. Whether the knowledge is collected in door-to-door conversations or social media conversations is less important than how it is incorporated to keep it relevant and appealing on the day it happens.

Because as the example of New Hampshire has shown, it’s all about timing.

Pros and Cons from other research:

 

 

 

How to win presidential elections with a digital strategy

“If the Democratic party were a body, Bernie Sanders would be the heart and Hillary Clinton the brain”

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition – and initially, nobody expected Barack Obama to have a real chance – even more so to get re-elected for a second term. What was his secret? It was being both the brains and the heart.

His method was using data to gain insight into what people care about and address that issue at each and every rally right there and then. When the issue was burning the most.

For us non-US observers it is worth remembering that the key to winning the candidacy as well as the election is not necessarily winning the votes of those who walk to the ballots. It’s about engaging those who wouldn’t.

A datadriven digital strategy

A datadriven strategy enables you to identify the issues that engage your audience.

For his first term election campaign, Obama succeeded in engaging a generation – the generation of social media which was just about to take off at the time.

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He was the first major political candidate to understand the power of sentiments and the power of the voice of the people outside the established channels such as television and news anchors.

By 2012 for the re-election he – or his team of advisors – had understood the power of using data to refine the message and making it timely.

The power of the crowd

As I am writing this article, the final numbers for Iowa have not yet come in, but it is a 50-50 race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. In social media, Bernie Sanders has won (according to this Reuters analysis.)

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders raises a fist as he speaks at his caucus night rally Des Moines

Bernie Sanders raises a fist as he speaks at his caucus night rally Des Moines. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Sanders was mentioned 77,000 times versus Clinton’s 55,000 times (Brandwatch) and gained 15,699 new Facebook followers on the one day. Clinton’s Facebook page only came third with 6,210 new followers that day, trailing Donald Trump’s 10,704.

As in all data, one must not jump to easy conclusions and take the number at it’s face value. There can be many different reasons why someone chooses to like a Facebook page – you could be liking an opponent to observe and learn, or to troll and create a disturbance. The second level of such an analysis should therefore always be a sentiment analysis and catalogueing the social media influence of these new followers to be able to conclude credibly whether this will impact a future election result.

 

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But one thing is certain – you could easily turn the intelligence gathered from this analysis into a practical campaign such as Obama did. One example is given below where the objective was to engage would-be supporters who just had not registered to vote with BigData combined with TV advertisement.

DigitalStrategyPresidentialElections

 

I can’t wait to read more analyses on how the candidates fare by making their data speak. May the best data whisperer win.

 

More interesting links to the impact of social media on US elections:

 

 

 

Your website is your business

Remember the early days? When companies were proud to announce that they, too, were “on the internet”? When all they did was digitalise their corporate brochure and added an info@ email address. Which sometimes even wasn’t clickable.

Unfortunately, despite all the technology, all the amazing professional designers and developers, there are still far too many websites who do not engage and add value. (At this point, I could add a “wall of shame” to this blog entry, but that is not a nice thing to do. I am sure, if you are one of them, you know it by now.)

Speed is the new currency of business

Your ignition key is your website if you want to keep up – and speed up – your act. Modern marketers develop content and interactions based on websites and landing pages where all customer interactions, and thus all the useful data you need in the sales follow up, is tracked, monitored and converted into actionable insights and next steps.

If you do not understand how to act and react fast and to the point, chances are you and your business will be disrupted by someone who does.

waze

Stay on target. Keep the content valuable, up to date, and avoid click baiting your audience to capture their information – and then leave them dissatisfied with the quality of the information they committed their personal details to get access to.

And whenever you create a website, think about what you – yourself – would look for and where you would look. Or better, if you have the time and the budget, engage with an agency that specialises in user interfaces and website navigation.

Be honest and transparent

Recently, I crossed the Oresund Bridge between Copenhagen and Malmö for a quick Christmas family visit. The lovely young agent in the toll booth offered me 50% off my total fee for two crossings, if I saved the discount code on the receipts and logged into their website within 28 days to claim my discount. Pretty straightforward.

Oresund-Bridge-51575

But I never found out how to do it! Because after navigating around the website, checking all the tabs, using the search function, using the FAQ section – there was no mention of this possibility. I gave up twice. Then, finally, on the last day of the offer I gave it a last try. And I realised that the offer was directly connected to purchasing a BroBizz – loyalty program where frequent travelers across the bridge get 50% off their normal fee. But I live very far away, and would normally not go via this route.

Not only did the website make it impossible for me to find what I was looking for, because search functions and FAQs did not include this offer = not up to date. They also were not completely transparent about the main objective of this special offer campaign: to get more BroBizzers.

Be up to date

So, whenever you create a campaign that is driven through your website – make sure the content, layout, call to actions and data management is up to date and synchronized. And that your employees are properly briefed about the campaign objectives and how it works.

You lose consumer respect much faster than you can ever regain it. For someone like the company operating the Oresunds Bridge, the website IS their business. It’s the only channel they have to interact with and add value for their customers and potential customers. With more than 20,000 vehicles passing over the bridge daily according to www.orestat.se there is a lot of potential.

Be social

And your business is social. For inspiration, take a look at www.waze.com – also in the business of facilitating traffic. With this little app, GPS navigation has been seriously disrupted. Users want more than just maps, they want to know where the traffic buildup is right now, where the speed traps, the accidents, the roadkills are at the very moment they are heading in that direction – and what their route options are if they want to avoid them. And while they are at it, they can be social, collect points, rise levels (I am a Waze Warrior and striving to become a Ninja). Google Maps is losing ground as we all outsmart traffic together.

Wikepedia explains, and has more details:

Waze (pronounced ways), formerly “Freemap”, is a GPS-based geographical navigation application program for smartphones with GPS support and display screens which provides turn-by-turn information and user-submitted travel times and route details, downloading location-dependent information over mobile networks.

waze

And in the past month, Waze even had a special Star Wars theme, where C3PO was giving me the directions, and I could collect points by driving on roads where no-one had gone before and thus add to the quality of the maps available to all. Collecting little Tie Fighters. Sadly, this little game is over now.

Happy New Year!

A big thanks to @holman – read his article on what developers were facing when creating websites in the 90s. Those who tried to go beyond digitalising the corporate brochures.

 

An idea becomes a movement: Why influencers influence

When something is important to you, you naturally feel the urge to communicate. Not just because “sharing is caring” but because more people sharing makes what is important -to you- important to more people. It’s called influencing.

Over the past 4 years, since entering the exciting, demanding but also enlightening world of Twitter, we have seen countless examples of individuals and companies using it as just another way of shouting. They shout about their products, their companies, their personal frustrations, politics, or strong engagements/causes. Be it football or feminism.

S.O.C.I.A.L.

But are they social? The ultimate acronym for being someone who cares (“sharing is “caring”) implies that you are sincere and communicate rather than shout. You communicate by being open and receptive to the person you communicate with. In order to be worth sharing, what you communicate must be triggered by your true motivation to collaborate around the issue. And more importantly, interested in what they need/have to say.

If and when you respond, what you say and how you interact needs to be what is truly who you are, to be authentic and therefore make a difference.

Finally, social means caring, and by showing that you care, you are likeable and will be a natural choice to follow and engage with. That is how you become an influencer. And that is what social media is all about.

A Twitter list became a movement

Last night I started collecting Danish influencers adding them to a list so that I could follow them all and engage where it makes sense. @tokeroed picked the idea up, made more suggestions and it has now grown into more than 30 Twitterers in Denmark from all geographies, all professions, both companies and consultants and self employed or out of employment. A group of people reaching out to each other to interact, share and care. Check out the list “Danish Influencers” on Twitter to meet these amazing people. I am sure, there will be more.

I cannot wait to see where this will takes us.

Become a customer company and turbocharge your lead process

During this summer I will share some best practices on how to become a customer company and how Salesforce CRM can help you optimize your marketing strategies. This first post is about how you generate more leads, since few things are more vital to a business than generating leads and future sales. And it doesn’t have to be as hard as it sometimes feels. Here are some great tips on how to become a customer company and connect with your customers in a whole new way.

Get to know your audience

If you haven’t by now, it’s time to take your marketing to the next level. Today, companies have to be more social than ever to create engagement and likeability.

  • By using a real time channel such as Twitter, you can capture leads by promoting your products and services, but most important, you can build relationships with both clients and prospects.
  • To know what to tweet about you have to do your research. Don’t underestimate the faithful old servant, your website, to find out what your prospects are interested in. By using Web-to-lead forms you can automatically capture information from visitors who already have an interest in your business.
  • Although, there is a few things to keep in mind before you create a form. Define what information you want to collect, consider where you should place the form and how much information is legitimate to ask for.
  • As soon as you have these parts in place, don’t be afraid to multiply your forms to capture different types of information!

Optimize and evaluate

But there is one problem, it doesn’t matter how great your website is, if just a few knows it exists.

  • Make sure to be where your prospects are looking by using for example Google Adwords.
  • To further search optimize your website there are also some great apps to use. Check out the AppExchange app SEO for Salesforce which automatically connects to intelligence data through Google Analytics. With the app you can also track your lead origins and report by search engine, keywords and campaigns through your entire sales cycle.
  • And remember! Evaluate your lead sources to see which one performs the best and gives you the best results.

By following these best practices you will soon increase the flow of high quality leads and at the same time build up your database of valuable information.

Customer Company Tour Nordics 2013

Sign up for a day packed with exciting new sessions and breakthrough technologies during Customer Company Tour Nordics 2013. Come and meet us the 15th of October at Grand Hotel in Stockholm. Sign up here!

Take a look at the keynote from the Customer Company Tour last year with JP Rangaswami talking about Business is Social:

Are banks big, impersonal and greedy?

One of the key ingredients to success is to simply listen and engage.

”People expect you to give a damn about them. Not only that, they expect you to prove it. And the only way to prove it is to listen, engage, give them what they want when you can, and, when you can’t, give them an honest answer why.” (Gary Vaynerchuk, “The Thank You Economy”)

This quote by the renowned entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, revolves around how social media has brought back the necessity for and possibility of the “small town shop” mentality.

Conversation and caring is central to business success

It’s the old fashioned approach to customer service: you walk into the butcher shop, and the owner greets you by your name, knows your aversion to pork, and realises the reason for your visit must probably be the big splash barbecue extravaganza next weekend.

What Vaynerchuk really means is that companies are starting to care more. By opening up to customer issues, complaints and different ways of life, they are better suited to provide a heartfelt service that makes sense on a 1:1 level. By caring more these companies will deliver a service that will be sought after. In return they will increase their competitive advantage through the power of word of mouth. Because these days, the customer is armed with the weapon of mass communication that can be used for or against you!

Does your bank really care for you

Let´s take banks as an example. These often very conservative institutions are facing important market changes really evoking a need for rethinking their strategy for business growth.

One of these changes is the mere fact that the confidence towards the banking sector as such is heavily decreasing. According to Ernst & Young (Global Consumer Banking Survey 2012) 59 % of the EU respondents find their confidence in the banks decreasing. 59 % who lack confidence – that´s a huge blow to an industry!

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In Sweden, Länsförsäkringar recently performed a study asking 3,500 customers about their views of the banking today. A major finding was the perception that banks are putting their own interest over the ones of the customer. Only 4 out of 10 respondents felt that their bank knew them and provided advice based on that knowledge. In summary – the banks are still considered to be big, impersonal and greedy.

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You could also look at banks as you would at a guest at your dinner table. For a study last year,  salesforce.com took a closer look at the “personality” of banks together with Psykologilabbet, a psychology practice in the forefront of psychology research. The study was based on the how banks are choosing to describe themselves, but more importantly how they are being perceived by the outside world (via media, blogs, forums etc.)  Psykologilabbet studied banks in the same way they would an individual – ranking them according to some key criteria that in total makes up a strong character (and a pleasant dinner guest) – credibility, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. This study showed that although the Swedish large banks are perceived as relatively credible, they overall score low in traits such as respect, fairness and citizenship.

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All this, combined with the ease of customer taking their business elsewhere should make some of these institutions rethink. The banks paving the way and getting on board with the personalised, value adding approach will have a better shot at winning the race.

In Australia, the Commonwealth Bank, has managed to stick out in the fierce competition through understanding that the relationship with your customers need to be based on getting back to basics – engaging in conversations that bring value to your client. Going back to my butcher example – “I have just the right piece of strip steak for you, and if you like to get it perfect medium rare leave it alone for 9 minutes on one side and 7 on the other”.


Direct link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A98NFBm8b9U

Commonwealth Bank understands that the client´s financial world really isn´t hapenning inside the bank office: It´s when you are out and about and see a house you´d like to buy, or when drafting your exciting business plan and need to quickly grasp your funding opportunities. The personal, financial conversation you would have with your bank contact therefore needs to get extended to that world – without losing the value factor.

And this is where social comes in

By running the business on a platform allowing for collaboration, the services provided become relevant to every customer. You see a house you like? Take a picture, the bank compiles the information needed, and the loan gets approved while on site.

However you´d like to package your offering, your approach needs to be based on the love for and knowledge of your customer. Same rules of relationship apply whether you are a small shop or a large corporation. So, you need to ask yourself “Do I give a damn?”

The most innovative countries in the world. Come see us.

Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Finland (and Australia and Canada) had the highest internet penetration/usage per capita in the world back in the early 1990s when it all took off. At the time I was a business analyst and spent a lot of effort trying to understand why.

Finally I know:  it’s because it was social.

It’s human nature to want to engage with others, and if you think about the geography and demographics of the above countries, there are a lot of people who are physically isolated from each other and/or the world. If you have to drive 80 km to the nearest library, it makes sense to search for your information online. If you have to drive 80 km to meet up with your peers after work, it makes sense to engage with them on Facebook or Twitter instead. (Especially right now, when there are extreme temperatures (on either end of the scale) in all of the above countries.)

There are many lists of innovative countries provided by various consulting groups and government and independent research groups. There is never a completely unbiased view; it all depends on the metrics. But it is remarkable that all lists, regardless of the research parameters, list the above countries who were Internet early adopters, in the top tier.

What is the Nordics secret sauce of innovation?

Those who say “it cannot be done” are interrupted by somebody already doing it

Sweden – and most Nordic countries – are not necessarily innovation-friendly in terms of startups. But if you are driven by the passion of your idea, and not just by a narrowminded focus on making profit early on, there is a pool of extremely well educated people, the Born Digital Generation, who take nothing for granted, and who just do it. Take a look at the list below to show just a few remarkable Nordics innovation achievements.

Want to be innovation-inspired?

Here’s my suggestion: join the Born Digital Generation in the Nordics on one of these upcoming social media events (listed below). And feel free to ping me @echristensen42 with more events so that the list can be expanded.

Increasingly, these events are not your standard-shelfware of conferences with speakers pitching their products or showcasing their own brilliance. The Born Digital Generation wants to own the discussion and even decide on the agenda through crowdsourcing – or in this case Friendsourcing. These people already know each other – through social media. The events are just a chance to have some facetime.

         
Iceland Reykjavik Internet Marketing Conference http://www.rimc.is/en/ March 21-22 Great lineup of visionary speakers
Sweden SSMX – Sweden Social Media Exchange www.ssmx.se February 22-24 Unconference – agenda is friendsourced
Sweden SSWC – Sweden Social Web Camp http://www.swedensocialwebcamp.com/ August 15 – 18 Unconference – 450 creative minds on an island.
Norway Webforum http://web-forum.no/ March 14-15 Setting the stage for social in Norway
         

And here’s a reminder – a list of Nordic innovators you may or may not know were… Nordic (thanks to @dortetoft and Thomas Madsen-Mygdal for the comprehensive list):

  • Linux was invented by Linus Torvalds (Finland)
  • C++ was created by Bjarne Stoustrup (Denmark)
  • Microsofts C# (C Sharp) and so also the .Net-platform came from Anders Hejlsberg (Denmark)
  • PHP-scripting was created by Rasmus Lerdorf (Denmark)
  • MySQL was invented by a Finn and a Swede (not sure of their names, can anyone help?)
  • Ruby on Rails – we can thank David Heinemeier Hansson (Denmark)
  • Opera was built in Norway and Iceland (not sure of their names, can anyone help?)
  • Linus Torvalds (Finland) gave us GIT
  • The Danish company Umbraco provides the CMS-system on the Microsoft platform ( Niels Hartvig)
  • Skype was invented by a Dane and a Swede (Janus Friis, Niklas Zennström)
  • Oh, and don’t forget Spotify (Sweden), Angry Birds (Rovio-Finland) and Minecraft (Sweden)

More references:

http://bizzen.blogs.business.dk/2013/01/28/it-ivaerksaetter-norden-gor-det-godt-men-for-smat/

http://www.swedishtradehistory.com/Assignments/From-circular-to-the-internet/

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/market-data/communications-market-reports/cmr12/international/icmr-5.07

http://www.globalinnovationindex.org/gii/main/2012rankings.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-03/switzerland-sweden-are-world-s-most-innovative-countries.html

http://www.ideaconnection.com/blog/2012/07/highlighting-the-worlds-most-innovative-countries/

http://www.wired.co.uk/topics/wired-european-startups

Good people to follow if you want to be on top of Nordics innovation (feel free to add to list – ping me):

@annika

@hampusbrynolf

@trulytherese