• Tony Ilbery

SOCIAL MEDIA PREDICTED THE ELECTION RESULT


Pollsters around Australia are still scratching their heads at the election result after getting it so wrong, but it was correctly predicted by Social Media if only their listened.

In the five days before election night, Professor Bela Stantic analysed 2 million social media comments, from more than half a million unique accounts, relating to 50 key terms, and predicted that Scott Morrison would win.

The director of Griffith University's Big Data and Smart Analytics lab has a track record. In 2016, he tipped Donald Trump to take the United States' presidency, and in doing so accurately forecast how all but one state voted. He also foresaw the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union coming that same year.

"I was monitoring social media over the last month and I made many public statements saying that I don't see any grounds that Labor would win, despite the polls saying differently," Professor Stantic said.

"Particularly this last week, I accessed millions of tweets and it was clear to me that apart from Victoria and South Australia, where Labor was ahead, there were no grounds for Labor taking over."

Professor Stantic's accurate prediction comes as polling companies face scrutiny on the results published during the election campaign: despite trailing in every major poll for three years, the Coalition retained power on Saturday night and could yet form majority government.

With polling and betting markets missing the mark, experts are increasingly turning to social media to judge voter sentiment on a larger scale.

The signs were there at this election.

  • Mr Morrison's own Facebook page attracted 25 per cent more interactions - reactions, comments and shares - than Bill Shorten's

  • Liberal Party's central Facebook page had almost double the levels of engagement its parallel Labor account had.

  • One Nation leader Pauline Hanson's Facebook page outperformed Mr Shorten's

  • Far-right senator Fraser Anning's page had slightly fewer interactions than the Labor leader

  • The figures, sourced from social media monitoring software Crowdtangle

Social Media has clearly played a vital role in the campaign

  • Mr Morrison's emphasis on video content spearheaded the social media strategy

  • Mr Morrison's videos attracted more than double the views of Mr Shorten's page

  • Each contender shared a similar number of videos

  • On Instagram, Mr Morrison received 112,000 likes and comments compared with Mr Shorten's 71,000.

  • The Liberals spent quite a lot of money promoting ads on Scott Morrison's page whereas the Labor Party went for a marginal-seat-focused campaign

  • Morrison seemed to be trying to make it almost presidential - hell it worked for Trump

Political communications expert Scott Wright said it was clear the Liberal Party was putting a lot of effort into its online presence. "Looking at the comments - and further systemic analysis is needed - Scott Morrison's Facebook comments look quite heavily moderated; it looks unnatural in its positivity. It's also interesting to see 'Scott Morrison' (his team of social media managers) replying actively in the comments," the Melbourne University associate professor said.

"It reads as a crowd of supporters - and this minimises any potential impact in terms of undecided voters and might inflate the figures here."

"The real question for me is whether or not it's actually made people change their vote, donate or volunteer. Engagement's noise, but it's not actually what matters." says Scott Wright

For Professor Stantic, it mattered. In his eyes, his latest successful prediction is yet more evidence of social media's crucial election role.

"We now live in a virtual world and are better accessed through social media. Public opinion could be better analysed from social media rather than just opinion polls," he said. "People are more honest when they're talking to their friends rather than when they're answering polls."

by Tony Ilbery

Social Pulse's Chief Storyteller

[email protected]

@tonyilbery

To see the full breakdown of all seats click here

Original article from SMH // Images from TheGuardian.com


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