Ossoff and marketing in GA-06

“Humble. Kind. Ready to Fight”…but not to win.

The Ossoff campaign contained some of the worst email marketing that I have even seen. These passive agrressive and desperate pleas are a hugely ineffective means of getting votes, no matter how effective they are in fundraising.

 

 

The e-mailers may not have been the worst piece of advertising from the Ossoff campaign. This video is even worse. It is gimmicky, weak and offers nothing positive for voters.

In contrast to that, from a perspective of negative marketing, these ads from Handel were brutal and effective.

It strikes me that a key reason for these marketing choices by the Ossoff campaign was the “Panera Bread” strategy.

essentially a rationale for appealing to suburban voters in swing districts rather than spending time or money trying to expand the Democratic party’s base among working-class voters, minorities, or millennials

These kinds of ads seem targeted to that kind of demographic, whereas running in the traditional Republic district, Handel just had to secure her base.

Political candidates in Sri Lanka, #GE2017 aftermath

We can do better?

This is a typical example of the worthy but flawed thinking that so many people have about politics in Sri Lanka:

Do we at least now not need to think beyond blind allegiance to a colour of a political party but select good, honest men and women with integrity to exercise our sovereign legislative, executive and judicial powers to finally make policy-based decisions that will at least secure a better future for our children?

The question is not about a better quality of politician. The question is, who is willing to actually put themselves forward as political candidates and is there a pathway for them?

There are systematic problems (as there are all over the world) that hinder the development of “better” politicians. However, if we aren’t willing to get our hand dirty and get involved, then no amount of bedwetting and handwringing is going to make things better.

This is why movements like the Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress are so interesting and vital.

For all the talk about Macron, what he did has to be assessed in the context of the French political system. A more realistic option may be to transform parties from the inside out. The crucial question is how you can do this in systems like we have in Sri Lanka?

In Sri Lanka,the experience shows that no party follows any one procedure in the selection of candidates for elections at all levels. A study undertaken in respect of South Asia demonstrated that despite differences in procedures, parties in South Asia have some common features when it comes to candidate selection. Candidates are usually selected by consensus among the top leadership.

In most parties, the party chiefs have the final say, but they take decisions only after consultations with other party leaders at the relevant level. Today party alignments are unimportant and substantial de-alignment takes place during elections,and this could be attributed to the absence of strong constituency organisations with strong party loyalties and well demarcated party lines.

Therefore the organiser of the electorate – the candidate in waiting – or the MP of a given electoral division is the one who selects the candidates for the provincial or Pradeshiya Sabha elections. His nominees or recommendations are readily endorsed by the party leadershipand this,in effect, meant that all decisions are taken in consultation with the MP or the Organiser of the electorate.

The UK General Elections

From a campaigning perspective, this article was one of the better ones I read.

Crowd size at rallies does matter. One hesitates to endorse the Bill Mitchell model, but imprecise it is,  sheer numbers turning out for the candidate seems to be a reliable (if imprecise) indication of voter enthusiasm. This enthusiasm can be gleaned from elsewhere too.

Finally, youth, youth, youth – the left owns them and if they turn out to vote, then that makes all the difference. This YouGov data is striking.

The education statistics are also very interesting. It’s in line with the US (for example), but given how far left Labour’s policies are (nationalisation!), has significant implications as to what is possible in terms of policy. It is also a clear indication that factors like income equality, public services, the financial crisis and paying for education are the dominant themes for younger voters. 

 

#GE2017 – Demographics, policy and messaging

Some recent tweets:

  • There is an interesting  and ongoing battle between the Conservative’s rigid messaging on Corbyn and Brexit and wider issues on policies.

  • The message may (pun intended) be getting through but what do voters value?

  • Labour’s performance with younger voters continues to be a source of interest.

And these polls via the Economist added to that.

  • Some poor Labour marketing in terms of presentation.

  • Aside from the UK, Macron’s win also brought up something I’ve written about before:

UK General Election – analysis of content #GE2017

I’ll be posting about this on an ongoing basis, but a few observations to date:

  1.  You’re a flip-flopper! No, you are!!

As I pointed out in a tweet, the Lib Dems and Tories are using very similar graphics to draw attention to flip-flops by each other’s party leader. While this style of an image can be a useful tool, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the onset of a degree of audience fatigue.

2. Graphic designers are expensive!

The re-use of the same graphics across social media networks was obvious and I’m not overly enamoured with this practice. While I appreciate there may be resource constraints in term of developing content (and certainly some content can be duplicated), the peculiarities of each social network should be taken into account. In this example, the graphic may work on Facebook but is too wordy and complex for Twitter. I’d suggest an image of Theresa May’s initial statement about not needing an election would have sufficed, paired with a tweet about her flip-flopping or being untrustworthy.

3. Corbyn may be boring but…

I’ve found the Labour party’s content the most interesting and creative. A quick scroll through their tweets and Facebook page show a focus on their own leaders and policies and fewer attacks on their opponents. When they do attack, content like this is both amusing and effective on social media. Not only does it do a better job of making the same flip-flop point the Lib Dems were striving for, it also frames May as a second-rate Magaret Thatcher.

Fake News & Imagined Realities

Having been away for a week, a fortuitous selection of holiday reading lead me to some insights on the fake news phenomenon and its impact on the recent US election.  Let me list these out, before exploring them in more detail:

  • A unique quality of humans is our ability to create imagined realities.
  • Many things that are fundamental to society are fictional constructs1.
  • Therefore humans were always ripe to be exploited by fake news.
  • It is only the increased ability to propagate fake news and the end of gate-keeping caused by technology that has changed, resulting in the current “crisis”.

 The three books that got me thinking about this are:

The first third (or so) of Sapiens focused on the idea of imagined realities that were composed of stories.

The real difference between us and chimpanzees is the mysterious glue that enables millions of humans to cooperate effectively.

This mysterious glue is made of stories, not genes. We cooperate effectively with strangers because we believe in things like gods, nations, money and human rights. Yet none of these things exists outside the stories that people invent and tell one another. There are no gods in the universe, no nations, no money and no human rights—except in the common imagination of human beings. You can never convince a chimpanzee to give you a banana by promising him that after he dies, he will get limitless bananas in chimpanzee Heaven. Only Sapiens can believe such stories. This is why we rule the world, and chimpanzees are locked up in zoos and research laboratories.

 If this sounds bizarre, just think for a moment about business corporations, like Peugeot or Toyota or Google. What exactly are they? They are not the people working in them, or the managers, or the stockholders, or the buildings. The buildings could be destroyed, the workers fired, the managers replaced, and the stockholders could sell their stocks to somebody else – yet the corporation will continue to exist. Corporations are legal fictions. They are stories invented by lawyers, which have absolutely no existence outside our imagination. Yet these stories are today some of the most powerful forces on earth.

Source 

 Democracy for Realists makes a very persuasive case for the idea that:

 most voters base their political decisions on who they are rather than what they think. Political behaviour reflects our membership of a particular group, an expression of our social identity. Voters choose parties which represent their culture and community, and stay with their political tribe long after they have ceased to serve their interests.

Source

Fake News are stories that construct a political identity

This is the insight I had as a result of my reading. We now have an unprecedented ability to tell stories (about politics) and distribute them widely (for example, through social media). Given the historical openness of humans to imagined realities, it is not surprising that a socio-political identity can be created and propagated as a result of this.

So what? Fake is Fake.

At this point, the concept of Intersubjectivity becomes important. While definitions vary, in this context, I am referring to the ability of humans to share their subjective reality. That is a reality as they perceive it.

If there is a sufficient number of people who believe and share the imagined reality of, for example, Mexican rapists swarming across the US-Mexico border, then this becomes part of their social identity. This social identity is the determining factor in how they vote.

Simply flagging individual articles that appear on social media feeds, will not be sufficient to address this.  The challenging of fake news is not just about questioning the veracity of stories, it is challenging the myths that build and sustain a community.

I’ve left The Mirror’s Truth for the end since it is a work of fantasy fiction. However, I found it amusing in the light of the other two books, as it is set in a world where delusion and insanity manifest as reality and I suspect it was responsible for igniting the line of thought expressed in this blog post.

FT.LK: Media ethics & advertorials in Sri Lanka

Cross-posted on socialmedia.lk

This article on the ft.lk is an example of dubious media ethics in Sri Lanka. I point it out not to nitpick, but because it is indicative of an industry that is crucial to the health of a nation. A robust and trustworthy news industry is a vital component of a healthy society.

The ft.lk newspaper seems to be using technology provided by a company called Emojet to run a poll online. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it is disturbing to see what seems to be an advertorial masquerading as a news article on the home page of the ft.lk website.

This article is shoddy journalism not just because it isn’t clearly marked as an advertorial. Many of the claims contained in it bear more relationship to a press release and do not seems to be substantiated in any way.

Most egregious is the claim:

Digital platforms such as the online paper (www.ft.lk), its FB page (https://www.facebook.com/dailyft/), twitter (@FT_SriLanka) and Whatsapp were all utilized to share the link. In 48 hours a wide array of responses from Sri Lanka and across the globe were received.

This appears to be hugely dubious. The tweet from the FT has only seven retweets and seven likes.

The Facebook post has no likes, shares or comments.

Articles like this undermine the credibility of the ft.lk as both a news source and an advertising platform and ultimately benefit no-one.

Facebook vs. YouTube: battling over music

Two recent analyses highlighted an increasingly heated battle over the dominant player in music video streaming.

Music video is streaming music’s killer app. According to MIDiA’s latest consumer survey, 45% of consumers watch music videos on YouTube or Vevo every month, while 25% of consumers use YouTube for music every week (more than any of the streaming audio services). So what YouTube and Vevo do has real impact.

– Source

The world’s largest social network has redoubled its efforts to reach a broad accord with the industry, according to interviews with negotiators at labels, music publishers and trade associations. A deal would govern user-generated videos that include songs and potentially pave the way for Facebook to obtain more professional videos from the labels themselves.

– Source

Digital Giants Tighten Their Grip on Top Media Owner Ranking

With both companies being increasingly cast a media companies, this is a key confrontation. Music is a key driver for online video and in the case of YouTube, the stats are very telling.

Share of U.S. population who have used YouTube to watch music videos or listen to music

 

 

Gary Hart and why Trump was inevitable.

We’re all going to have to seriously question the system for selecting our national leaders, for it reduces the press of this nation to hunters and Presidential candidates to being hunted.

In an episode of the excellent Axe-Files podcast featuring the equally excellent Matt Bai, the Gary Hary scandal and Bai’s book on it were discussed. Having only a passing familiarity with the incident, I was intrigued by the suggestion that it was a precursor to the age of Trump and by an apparently prescient statement by Hart withdrawing his candidacy.  Looking at a transcript of the statement, there are certainly aspects of it that have resonance today.

Politics in this country – take it from me – is on the verge of becoming another form of athletic competition or sporting match. We all better do something to make this system work or we’re all going to be soon rephrasing Jefferson to say: I tremble for my country when I think we may, in fact, get the kind of leaders we deserve.

I’ve quoted above extracts that immediately seemed significant to me in the Trump era. This next quote seems all too relevant as well and perhaps it was inevitable that once the system was sufficiently distorted, the only person who could emerge triumphantly was someone immune to the worst aspects of it.

I was going to be the issue. Now, I don’t want to be the issue. And I cannot be the issue, because that breaks the link between me and the voters. And that’s what I tried to explain to my children.

If someone’s able to throw up a smokescreen and keep it up there long enough, you can’t get your message across. You can’t raise the money to finance a campaign; there’s too much static, and you can’t communicate.

In the final analysis, the American people decide what qualities are important to govern this country in the national interest. And they haven’t been heard from yet.

 

 

Trump vs. everyone

Originally written for socialmedia.lk

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.

I’ve written before about how political parties have never being more vulnerable to being hijacked or bypassed by insurgent politicians. The potential conflict between Donald Trump and Republican  members of Congress over how Obama care is dealt with, is both an example and extension of this.

As I wrote in the post,

media disintermediation does not just apply to the relationship between politicians and the mainstream media. It also applies to the relationship between politicians and their parties.

When formulating changes to healthcare, Trump seems to be on a different path to his party. He is however, uniquely positioned to get his way, using the same tactics that he used to win the Republican nomination.

Key Concepts: Gatekeeping & Disintermediation

Using social media, Trump can directly speak to those who voted for him (and anyone sympathetic to his views), bypassing not only the mainstream media but also his own party. An interview with a traditional news outlet, such as the one where Trump stated he wants ‘insurance for everybody’ in the Obamacare replacement plan, only serves as an agenda setting tool2.

Subsequent to this, using social media, Trump is able to campaign for his specific plan against all opponents, including those within his own party. He can do this because he is not reliant on the party infrastructure or the media to connect with voters.

For more on this, read: