Grayling Plugged-in Report: Singapore General Election 2011
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Grayling Plugged-in Report: Singapore General Election 2011

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A report into the online penetration of five leading political parties during the Singapore General Election 2011. Conducted by Grayling, the world's second largest independent PR consultancy, the......

A report into the online penetration of five leading political parties during the Singapore General Election 2011. Conducted by Grayling, the world's second largest independent PR consultancy, the report assesses share of voice, sentiment, conversation peaks, popular channels and key influencers.

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  • 1. GraylingPlugged-in ReportSingapore General Election 2011May 2011
  • 2. Why are you reading this?In the Singapore General Election 2011, the national political parties were allowed to campaignusing social media for the first time ever. With approximately 74% of internet users in Singaporeon facebook, close to 1 million tweeting and as many as 7 out of 10 writing blogs, the potentialimpact of digital politics is immense. The engagement levels enjoyed by certain politcians arewell documented, but at Grayling we wanted to drill deeper to measure not just the volume ofnoise, but also who was saying what, where, how and when. Using our unique online monitoringtools we have compiled the following report that assesses the online penetration of five leadingpolitical parties.A word on methodology…This report is a comparative study of conversations taking place outside official party channels,in blogs, forums, microblogs, comments and news sites. No party facebook pages, twitteraccounts or websites are included in the study, though some individual candidate blogsare. In order to return accurate results, all comparisons exclude other parties or events – forinstance, the percentage of votes polled (page 3) is the percentage from total votes polled bythe assessed parties, not the percentage of votes polled in the election as a whole. Similarly, inorder to assess metrics such as sentiment in a like-for-like manner, figures are normalised, ratherthan evaluated as raw figures, as some parties generated significantly more buzz than others.Posts have been analysed by man and machine to ensure their relevancy and to avoid skewedresults. The parties assessed are: the People’s Action Party (PAP), the Workers’ Party (WP),the National Solidarity Party (NSP), the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) and the SingaporePeople’s Party (SPP). The study was conducted for four weeks, from 10 April to 7 May.The interesting stuff… PageExecutive summary 2Share of voice 3Sentiment 4Conversation spikes 5Channels 6Influencers 7 1
  • 3. EXECUTIVE SUMMARYResults of the study show several interesting findings for digital communicators, including how other aspectsof an integrated campaign can influence online conversation. Lots of noise doesn’t mean everyone is listening Firstly, a share of voice does not translate into direct results. All opposition parties enjoyed a higher share of voice than the percentage of either the votes polled or seats awarded. This can partly be explained by the fact that share of voice includes neutral and negative mentions, as well as positive ones, so not every online comment would translate into an advocate or vote. In addition, the share of voice is not geographically defined. It is important to drive conversation in target markets or areas. For instance, based on election results, we can assume that though the NSP had a greater share of voice than the WP (16% v 15%) those people mentioning them (NSP) were spread across Singapore rather than being concentrated in key areas. It is people with a problem who speak up Being an established entity tends to drive mentions, with PAP generating nearly three times as many mentions as its closest competitor, the WP However, this also meant the PAP had the . largest proportion of negative comments – in fact it had more negative mentions than any party (PAP included) had positive mentions. People were more likely to engage with the election in order to criticise rather than support. With regards to sentiment, the percentage of positive mentions more accurately reflects voting patterns. Only the PAP and WP achieved significant proportions of positive mentions. Offline events mean online engagement Spikes in mentions and search do not directly correlate, indicating that an increase in awareness and interest (search) does not automatically result in an increase in engagement (mentions). Spikes appeared on both levels in the days of, or immediately following, the election and major rallies. Engagement was driven by real-life events which provided users with direct reference points and opportunities to post firsthand content. Advocates get involved at crucial times The channel that generated most mentions was microblogs (namely Twitter). Users were more likely to make brief comments or share links than they were to produce lengthy content such as blogs or forum posts. This was particularly relevant during election week and especially as results were announced. Microblog sentiment in election week revealed more positive mentions, indicating that advocates are more likely to post online in the immediate lead-up to an actual event. News outlets start onversations, individuals spread them In terms of which users made most mentions, the online portals of traditional news outlets posted much more frequently than any individual blogger or microblogger. The proportion of total mentions made via news sites, however, was significantly smaller. News sites serve to provide regular and reliable information and start the conversation – it’s social users who take the content and popularise it online. There is a large number of social users who made frequent mentions, many of whom have high followings and influence, which highlights the importance of engaging both traditional and social media. 2
  • 4. SHARE OF VOICE PAP WP NSP SDP SPP Seats won in Votes received in Online share of voice Singapore GE 2011 (%) Singapore GE 2011 Singapore GE 2011 (% of total votes cast for (% of total mentions of five focus parties) five focus parties) 93 65 5 49 13 7 14 2 15 7 13 16Following the General Election 2011, the PAP continues to dominate the Singapore parliament, though theparty received a lower percentage of votes than in previous years. The PAP also enjoyed the largest onlineshare of voice, though as a percentage of total buzz it was significantly smaller than both the percentageof seats and votes won. Although the NSP failed to win a seat in parliament, it enjoyed the second largestonline share of voice.Online share of voice is important, but it doesn’t account for spread over electoral constituencies, thusexplaining why buzz didn’t necessarily translate into votes and seats. In addition the total share of voicedoes not evaluate the manner in which parties were mentioned. 3
  • 5. SENTIMENT Data is normalised with 100 representing the highest level of mentions within the study. Other volumes of mention are divided by the highest level to produce all other points on the chart.Overall Positive Neutral Negative In the four weeks leading up100 to the election the PAP was the party mentioned most frequently online, but it wasn’t80 always good news. While more supportive comments were made about the PAP than any60 other party, the incumbents were actually mentioned negatively more frequently than positively. Netizens felt40 more strongly about voicing their dissatisfaction with the PAP than sharing their support20 or admiration for an opposition party. Conversely, opposition parties were barely referred to 0 negatively at all. PAP WP NSP SDP SPPWeekly Week 1 Week 2The opposition’s share ofvoice peaked in weeks twoand three, fuelled first bya rapid increase in NSPmentions and then a surge inSDP related conversations.Significantly, mentions wereprimarily neutral and did nottranslate into mass positiveconversation. After weekone the WP maintained aconsistent share of voicethough this gradually Week 3 Week 4became more positive, atrend reflected by the PAP .Other opposition parties,on the other hand, werementioned less frequentlyand less positively inelection week than earlier intheir campaigns. 4
  • 6. CONVERSATION SPIKESUnsurprisingly, most WP SPP SDP PAP NSPmentions of each party Buzzcame during the electionweekend. The buzzdwarved other onlineconversation peaks.Search volume, on theother hand, saw partiesachieve more consistentpeaks throughout,while all oppositionparties other than WPactually peaked before Searchelection day. This wouldsuggest that offlineevents like speechesand news frequentlyinfluence search butonly particpatory eventsand gatherings havea strong influence ononline conversation.Party by party Buzz Search PeaksAside from election weekend, the time at which PAPeach party saw the closest correlation betweenonline conversation and search volume was withina day of a major rally. In addition to generating 4 Maynews headlines and awareness, major ralliesresulted in firsthand content from attendees in theform of blogs, comments, photos and videos. WP NSP 29 April 30 April SDP SPP 4 May 2 May 5
  • 7. CHANNELSThroughout the campaign conversation was generated through blogs, news sites, comments, forums andsocial media, but in election week itself the overwhelming majority of online mentions of the contestingparties were made through microblogging, or more specifically Twitter. With the exception of the SDP allparties were mentioned at least three times more frequently in microblogs than regular blog posts. The easyand succinct nature of platforms like Twitter was the choice of an engaged electorate who wished to voicetheir opinions instantly. This was particularly relevant on election day as netizens awaited and then sharedresults from different constituencies.Week 4 conversations by channel (%)1. Microblogs 2. News 3. Blogs 4. Comments 1 74 3 16 1 70 3 12 2 5 4 5 2 6 4 12Microblog sentiment (normalised) 1 59 3 24 1 64 3 18 2 16 4 1 2 18 4 0 Microblog sentiment in election week saw a big upsurge in positive mentions of parties, when compared to total 76 7 online sentiment at any other stage of the campaign. The 1 3 SPP was the exception and was mentioned negatively 2 17 4 0 more frequently than positively, a trend reflected in a drop in votes year-on-year, while the WP was the only party mentioned positively more often than neutrally. Negative mentions of the PAP were only slightly fewer than positive mentions. Microblogging sentiment in election week bears the closest reflection to actual voting patterns, with proportion of positive mentions of opposition parties comparing to actual votes. 6
  • 8. INFLUENCERS The frequency with which a site mentioned a party is demonstrated by the size of it’s name. Sizes are dettermined in relevance to the most frequent poster, or largest name.Sites which mention PAP most frequently In all cases, parties were mentioned most frequently by the online portals of traditional media outlets. Only the two parties who ultimately entered parliament received similarSites which mention WP most frequently levels of conversation outside of news sites, accurately demonstrating their popularity with the masses. The overall majority ofSites which mention NSP most frequently mentions did not come from traditional media sites, rather from regular bloggers and numerous microbloggers. Thus it is illustrated that established news sites are instrumentalSites which mention SDP most frequently in providing frequent and reliable information and ultimately in starting conversations. Non-news site influencersSites which mention SPP most frequently Excluding news sites, there are many blogs, forums and microbloggers which consistently discussed the 2011GE, highlighting the importance of engaging with voters online in futureNon-news sites which most frequently mentioned political parties elections. 7
  • 9. Peter McFeely Senior digital consultant +65 6325 4606peter.mcfeely@grayling.com Grayling Singapore 6 Shenton Way #12-08A DBS Building Tower Two Singapore 068809