As part of a “social media impact” study, Storyclash analyzed 180 million Facebook reactions from US citizens over the presidential election to predict the outcome of the election. 2,186 articles published on the presidential election were served as a data pool for this study. According to an analysis of all results, Hillary Clinton is currently leading with 53% of all Facebook interactions against Trump’s 47%.

Social Media Impact: What are Facebook interactions?

On Facebook, users can submit reactions to articles in the form of likes (such as “Like”, “Love”, “Haha”, “Wow”, “Sad” or “Angry”), shares or comments. These reactions are summarized as Facebook interactions. Storyclash has gathered and analyzed 2,186 articles on the presidential election from the US media, that were published between March 2015 and November 2016, as a data pool for an in-depth analysis. The analysis showed that 72% of the 2,186 articles drew at least 50,000 interactions and four articles even reached more than one million interactions. Altogether, over 180 million interactions could be associated with the candidates. As a comparison, during the last US presidential election in 2012, a total of about 129 million citizens[1] cast their ballots. Of course, Facebook interactions cannot be seen as individual votes, as politically active Facebook users generally do not express their opinions on only one article. Nevertheless, the large number of Facebook interactions having to do with the US election reveals the high degree of political activity across the broad social strata in social networks. It should be noted, however, that the Storyclash study only compiled the opinions that were expressed on Facebook. On the other hand, with over 153 million active users over the age of 20[2], 65% of all US citizens eligible to vote[1] are registered on Facebook.

Analyzing the number of articles on the presidential election in terms of political parties, a short lead for Donald Trump can be noted. A total of 964 articles (44.1%) can be considered pro-Trump, whereas “just” 945 articles (43.2%) are attributed to Clinton. 277 articles (12.7%) could not be clearly assigned. The articles were manually assigned based on the assumption that readers like or share an article is if they support the statements in the article.

However, the significantly more relevant overall number of Facebook interactions give a completely different image: 95.3 million pro-Clinton interactions (52.8%) oppose to just 85.0 million pro-Trump interactions (47.2%).

Social Media Impact: Election forecast based on “social interactions”:

Towards the end of the election campaign, both candidates presented themselves to the voters in three TV debates. The first debate on September 26 became the most successful TV debate of all time, with approximately 84 million viewers. Clinton emerged in the first debate as the clear winner—not just in the analyses of most political experts but also in terms of interactions on Facebook. The day after the debate, articles on Clinton registered 3.35 million interactions in comparison to articles on Trump with only around 1.14 million interactions. In turn, Trump narrowly won the second debate on Facebook with around 53.4% of all interactions on the next day. The third and final TV debate was received less strongly by both parties, but Clinton enjoyed a clear victory once again in terms of interactions.  

Social Media Impact: Interactions during the period of the TV debates:

Significance for the election campaign

Considering the total number of interactions, multiple trends can be identified over the course of the election campaign. While about 66% of all cumulative interactions could be associated with Clinton at the beginning of April (see the start of the blue line), her lead gradually melted away over the following months. On June 1, both candidates were separated by a mere 4.8%. However, in the first half of June, the Democrats gained a significant number of interactions, with Clinton once again drawing 57.6% of all cumulative interactions on June 12. This supposed trend reversal soon came to a sudden end, as the second half of June and the first weeks of July were clearly in favor of Trump. On July 22, Trump succeeded in reducing Clinton’s lead in cumulative Facebook interactions to 0.85%. However, the neck-and-neck race of the two candidates (difference of less than 2.2%) only lasted 18 days, as Clinton took the lead again in August. Remarkably, from August on, Trump was clearly in second place behind Clinton in most surveys.

 

Cumulated interactions over time. The similarity to other survey barometers shows the relevance of this social media impact analysis:

The results of the social media impact study clearly show the immense significance social networks have in today’s society. It is therefore no surprise that politicians more and more frequently use social platforms such as Facebook as a political stage to reach out to not only thousands, but rather millions of people. This year’s US presidential election and the associated 180 million interactions also clearly show that social networks have long since established themselves as a serious barometer of public opinion. Social media trends on Facebook and other platforms represent the entirety of millions of individuals, reflecting the views of an ever-increasing population group.

 

About Storyclash:
Storyclash is a social media monitoring tool and shows what effects content in social networks has in real-time. The media and companies can observe which posts from their pages or those of competitors are shared, liked and commented on most frequently by users of Facebook and Twitter. In addition, the software recognizes viral posts all over the world within minutes and shows which trends should quickly be responded to. This allows for a maximum coverage of social networks.

Text: Lukas Huber & Manuel Brosch

[1]: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wahlbeteiligung#USA
[2]: https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/370814/umfrage/anzahl-der-monatlich-aktiven-facebook-nutzer-in-den-usa/

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