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DA deal makes social media noise

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With the recent DA deal, Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with the public commenting and keeping an eye on the updates as the announcement was made, writes JP KLOPPERS, CEO of BrandsEye.

But what does the freedom of expression provided by these platfoms offer to those in political positions making these decisions, and how can these insights positively impact decisions going forward?

BrandsEye, a leading online monitoring and insights company, closely followed the story as it broke across the web, including social media, and the company has catalogued public sentiment on the seemingly controversial political move.

Most social activity was confined to the realms of Facebook and Twitter with both platforms showing a noted increase in followers and topical conversation. The DA’s Facebook page saw a dramatic increase of 1 670 ‚’likes’, and their Twitter page (@DA_News) also increased by 415 followers. Agang’s pages reflected similar growth with the Facebook page up by 285 ‚’likes’ and their Tweets (@AgangSA) up by 172 members.

JP Kloppers, CEO of BrandsEye says, ‚”As objective observers we noted that these conversations and growth trends revealed that the public wanted to keep up with the latest updates on this announcement. Though Agang, is no longer an independent party, it also indicates the public’s interest in the party’s future.

‚”At the time, our research revealed that of the 7 148 contributors and the 9 973 online mentions relating to the #togetherforchange hashtag, a mix of opinionated responses were generated. Worked out at an average of just 1.4 mentions per person, the story’s broad appeal ensured politically minded South Africans eagerly voiced their concerns and observations online.‚”

Even though the majority of conversation took place on Twitter (69.1%), it was Facebook (26%) which released the in-depth sentiment of those both for and against the merger. Kloppers says, ‚”Simply put, Twitter’s character limit does not allow for greater revelation of emotion and rational responses. Many followers are feeling betrayed by Mamphela Ramphela’s actions while others view the move as a progressive step in the evolution of South Africa’s democracy.

‚”Twitter was not without its showstoppers. Concise and sometimes biting comments such as Gwede Mantashe’s ‚”rent-a-black‚” response to the announcement saw Gavin Davis, the DA’s Communications Director, retweeted 30 times when he retaliated. The report also revealed that race featured as a heated topic, but also showed people’s willingness to thoughtfully address the issue of race and move beyond it as a bone of contention.‚”

Ironically, despite the serious nature of the news, the retweeter of the day went to local and international comedic success, Trevor Noah who tweeted: ‚”And in other news Bafana Bafana join England to help them win the world cup.‚” which was retweeted 506 times.

Kloppers says, ‚”While not particularly significant to South Africa’s political landscape, in just two tweets, Noah the online author with the highest following to speak about the DA and Agang merge, created 730 engagements (reshares and replies), 2 347 906 opportunities-to-see (OTS) and an advert value equivalent (AVE) of R528 294,00. This provides clear insight into the fact that online influencers might not have the most lengthy and prestigious political careers but they do carry heavy clout with everyday people.‚”

The question arising, then, is: with all this insight into the opinions of South Africans, how will this information be used to make decisions going forward for all political parties, and how will the population’s response to this latest announcement correspond to the national elections around the corner? We’ll have to wait and see‚Ķ or listen. Online.

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