The Super Tuesday election results are in and Attensity continues to work with FOX 5 Atlanta and USA Today on the follow up to the primaries. In fact, the FOX 5 Social Media Buzz Tracker, powered by Attensity, was featured prominently in the TV news station’s coverage yesterday tracking sentiment about each of the candidates as the final results continue to update.
So far, social media results seem to be tracking pretty closely to the more traditional polls done prior to the election. According to an analysis of Twitter that Attensity conducted for USA TODAY, the combination of sentiment and share of voice (volume of comments) was strongest for Romney in seven states — Massachusetts, Virginia, Idaho, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Dakota. We predicted that Georgia would go to Gingrich, Alaska to Ron Paul and Vermont to Santorum.
In the final election results, Romney took six states: Virginia, Vermont, Ohio, Alaska, Idaho and Massachusetts. Gingrich wins Georgia, as social media predicted, while Santorum wins North Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma.
As USA Today states in a follow up story, Twitter analysis gets elections half right, “Part of the problem lies in a lack of location-based data about Twitter users’ tweets…A vast pool of location-based tweets would enable analytics experts to better connect tweets to where they come from across the nation. In the case of Super Tuesday, that would mean more localized information on tweets about candidates.”
We began this journey with a strong caution to USA Today that trying to predict the outcome of the election by analyzing Twitter sentiment would provide a limited view at best. Just because someone is posting on Twitter about a candidate, we reasoned, doesn’t mean those same people will go out and vote. The difference in demographics of Twitter users and voters is very different.
We also pointed out that the ability to analyze social media conversations is extremely valuable just for the story the data tells, as our customers know. The fact that news organizations and candidates can get a dynamic, real-time read of customer sentiment, share of voice, key conversation themes and more is useful even without predictions.
For Attensity’s customers, social media analysis provides an important piece of the picture they didn’t have before, and a window into what people are saying, thinking and feeling right now about a particular brand, topic or event. It’s not the whole picture, and needs to be balanced out with other sources of feedback to provide a complete, accurate picture. That’s why we advocate analyzing social media alongside other feedback channels like surveys, emails, reviews and more.
It would have made for a great story if the election results had mirrored Twitter sentiment, but too many factors are at play to draw a direct correlation. That’s okay. We think it made for a pretty great story anyway.