Election 2016: not the same old same old

Over the past year, the television media, along with the polls and the political pundits, mostly all told the same story of what the result would be on Nov. 8. On election night, a very different picture emerged.

The polls, the television media and the pundits were wrong. They weren’t wrong because they were reading the data incorrectly; they were wrong because they gathered incorrect and irrelevant data.

In the years since the 2012 election, the way people consume media, respond to inquiries and interact with each other and the information they consume and share has drastically shifted. And the powers that be have not kept up with that shift.

Segmented content: Facebook’s news feed algorithm is designed to show people more of the content that they’re interested in, and less of what they’re not interested in. As this relates to your personal friends on Facebook, you’ll start to see more of the people whose posts you have clicked, liked, commented on or shared and fewer posts from people you haven’t engaged with as much.

For marketers, the segmented content provides an incredible opportunity to advertise to the people who are most likely to buy from you. That’s a good thing. But with the segmented news feed you will see more of what you have expressed interest in, and less of what you haven’t, regardless of whether that information is credible.

Takeaway: When it came to the election, Facebook users were given the impression that most of the people around them have a similar vision to their own, which may or may not have been true. They were receiving “news” content that fits their vision of the world.

Clickbait: Throughout history, journalists have always used compelling headlines to get attention, but for the most part, these were handled responsibly and within context. Social media has opened the doors for everyone to get their opinion into the newsfeed, and the articles with the most compelling headlines (the clickbait) are the ones that get interactions and shares.

Publishers are rewarded for likes, clicks, comments and shares as far as getting more visibility in the social media news feeds and more impressions on their websites or blogs, which is how they generate advertiser revenue. What they are not rewarded for is the quality of the content that exists within that website or blog. This paves the way for headlines to be skewed to what will generate clicks, likes, comments or shares. A quick scan of the comments on many of the most popular feeds will show you how many people comment without even reading the article. In other words, most people appear to retweet news without ever reading it. 

Takeaway: Many people during the election campaign based their opinions on five to 10 words in a headline, and in 10-second sound bites of information. They were not getting the full story.

Traditional TV: According to a Pew Research report in August 2015, 72 percent of adult Internet users, or 62 percent of the entire adult population in the U.S., are on Facebook. Even when people are watching TV, they often have their laptop, tablet or phone open and are checking social media at the same time, or at least during the commercials. I’m a “Today” show watcher and during the past year, there were countless times when a story would pop up on the show that I had already seen (hours before or the day before) on Facebook. They were on top of the stories, but they tended to be hours or days late to the game on many of them.

Takeaway: Traditional election advertisements were not as effective as in the past. 

Polls: Political polls are conducted by phone calls made to landlines. According to a December 2015 article on DigitalTrends.com, only about 40 percent of American households still had a landline. And in a completely unscientific poll of people in my own network, even those who still have a landline generally don’t answer it because the only people who call are salespeople and survey-takers. Takeaway: the polls were not reflective of the population. 

Melissa Albano-Davis is principal of Grapevine Marketing, Manchester. 

Categories: Opinion