Posts on social media and political campaigning

A quick update on posts I’ve written elsewhere:

TRUMP VS. EVERYONE

A great example of how social media has changed politics is taking place in America with the battle over how Obama’s healthcare policies are to be changed under the new administration. President-elect Donald Trump is setting the stage for a potential clash with his fellow Republicans when it comes to the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. Many of his pronouncements in interviews and on Twitter are at odds with long-held Republican orthodoxy on health care.

HAMBANTOTA PORT STRIKE

To the MSM, the issue is about the alleged assault on a journalist; to the public, the issue is about a politically motivated strike to disrupt the attempt to make the port viable in the long-term. This is not to excuse attacks on journalists or strikers. It is an insight as to how blinkered our journalists.

VOTERS & PROSPECT THEORY: TRUMP LESSONS PART 3

This concept from Behavioral Economics is important in understanding why Trump won. Simply put, prospect theory posits that individuals are risk averse when facing favourable prospects but are more accepting of risks when faced with losses. In the case of the US elections, a significant number of voters had negative feelings about their current situation and their long-term prospects. They also felt Clinton would be unable to fix these problems, which they perceived as been systemic to the American political order.

IDEOLOGY: TRUMP LESSONS PART 2

The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally. This was a great line from an article in The Atlantic and Trump’s billionaire backer Peter Thiel said much the same thing  I think one thing that should be distinguished here is that the media is always taking Trump literally.

PICKING YOUR BATTLES: TRUMP LESSONS PART 1

The problem from a political campaigning perspective with the type of handwringing articles we’ve seen about Trump’s sexism and racism is that they focus on the wrong thing. This happens in Sri Lankan politics too. In the latter, there is a tendency in some circles to focus on the wrong aspects of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s popularity and vote base. While it’s true that most if not all racists are Mahinda Rajapaksa fans, not all MR fans are racist.

Brexit & political communication

Two recent blog posts by Rajit drawing on lesson from the Brexit referendum:

Experts, framing & communication

In addition to the disconnect between the cultural and economic elites in life experiences, there is another reason for this development. Disintermediation means that issues are no longer exclusively framed by experts or the mainstream media. People now have access to multiple sources of information that independently either reinforce their existing cognitive framework or influences them to adopt a new one.

The implication are significant. If an issue (such as free trade or mass migration) is being processed through one frame, a parade of experts offering counter arguments will not change that. Top down and prescriptive communication tactics are becoming less effective. Campaigners need to re-evaluate what constitutes effective content and the channels through which it is communicated.

Media gatekeeping & campaigning

Not only are the options available to organisations to bypass the gatekeepers and communicate directly with the audience far more powerful, there is also a proliferation of information sources. These can be new media such as digital only news providers, powerful individual influencers or the audience members own social networks (e.g. friends and family). It should be noted that the relative weightage given to each news source does have demographic differentiations.

However, for a broad based campaign, the implications of this change in gatekeeping is that not only the content presented have to change but as I’ve written previously, the media mix that a campaign has to deploy is more diverse and complex.

 

Priming and political messaging

In other words, it’s not enough for an ad simply to be clever or have good visuals. It also has to connect with the audience at a time when voters are primed to pay attention to the message.

The use of “primed” in this article caught my attention. It ties into an earlier post about “agenda setting” in political communication. I wrote there about the media’s role in agenda setting for Trump. Priming is closely linked to agenda setting, though the exact relationship is not always clearly defined.  As a useful examination of political messaging and an interesting intellectual exercise, I’ve applied the two concepts using the “Quotes” ad example in the article.

Agenda setting is the starting point. It crucial to understand here that the media do not tell us what to think, but rather what to think about.  This provides a context for public discussion of an issue, setting the stage for audience understanding, both at conscious and subconscious level.  For a political message such as the one described in article to be effective, there has to be an effective agenda setting process in place. In this case, one that conveys the idea that Trump is “anti-women”.

Read More on Rajit’s blog >

Agenda Setting in Trump’s Triumph

night-television-tv-theme-machinesA note about one of the many things that struck me while observing the Republican primaries. I thought it an interesting exercise to evaluate this using the agenda setting marketing theory.

Agenda-setting theory describes the “ability [of the news media] to influence the salience of topics on the public agenda.”

Using this, it is apparent that  media’s overwhelming coverage of the Trump campaign acted to prime the electorate to be open to his messaging. This is consistent with the role of the media in an agenda setting context. They did not tell the voters what to think about Trump. Rather, by talking about his attributes, they directed a receptive primary voter audience to Trump and his messaging.

Read more on Rajit’s blog >

#sm4devngov: Sri Lanka Social Media

Last week I had the privilege of speaking about the social media landscape in Sri Lanka at an event organised by Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) as part of a series workshops held with the UN APCICT.  The sessions were tremendously interesting and some of the content can be seen online via this Twitter hashtag – #sm4devngov.

My presentation was an analysis on the the current social media landscape in Sri Lanka, with an overview of trends and developments.

The audience was made up of senior officials and heads of departments from the public sector. Through the presentation, I was emphasising the growth and vibrancy of social media in Sri Lanka and the need for the public sector to reach out to it.