2016 is a big year for all of us, especially on a national level. For the Philippines and the US, it’ll mark the welcome arrival of the two new heads of state. As anticipated as the outcomes are, it’s the time that leads to election day (along with the controversies, debates, and stunts) that have kept us buzzing.
Who are you voting for?
On both sides of the globe, our candidate options include at least one bad joke or several. Whether it’s Trump, Binay, Cruz, Roxas, Clinton, or Duterte depends on your political leanings and sense of humor. One thing holds true for both countries, though, the electoral campaigns, their news coverage, and the electorates themselves (even non-registered voters, as in the Philippines) have never been this frenzied.
It’s been a no-holds-barred campaign since day one. Although trading barbs among candidates and among the public is nothing new come election season, the verbal sparring and mud slinging seem to have reached new heights. Blame it on the pervasiveness of social media and the reach of mass media. Journalists, PR teams, the common people, and incumbent government officials have taken to actual and digital streets to voice their choices and opinions.
How are we measuring the election madness?
Attempts to capture such choices before the big day are reflected in the many polls and surveys conducted officially and otherwise (looking at you, 711). The cacophony of messages from all sides can be deafening. Candidates and their PR teams might rejoice in the chaos, especially when it’s bad press for their opponent or good news for them — this could translate into a ratings boost, thus a better chance at getting a seat in government. Polls, surveys, ratings, all work to cut through the campaign noise by quantifying votes.
In the Philippines, the days following May 9 will still be rife with noise. Everyone’s eyes will be on the tally, ready to accept or refute the results. In the US, people have until November 8 for the decision and the airing of public opinion is unlikely to let up once both parties have their official presidential nominees. Regardless of how noisy groups will be, the elections and their cold hard numbers will remain indomitable*.
What can we learn from the election campaigns?
- Don’t just look at the number of people/users talking
A lot. For one thing, people’s online behaviour during election season is a testament to how powerful and pervasive social and mass media can be. The campaigns have managed to hold up a mirror to society — and while that’s noteworthy from a socio cultural anthropological standpoint, for us at Chromedia, it means we are well aware of current events. More importantly, as individuals, we’re engaged and involved.
In fact, there are advocates for certain candidates among us, and much like product development and management, it’s important to keep track of these people. They could be the early adopters or the power users. Aside from checking in on the general sentiments among your product users (similar to how polls work), it’s critical to zero in on specific messages about a feature or a service.
- Be smart about what you’re hearing and who you’re listening to
When we’re working on projects, putting our ears to the ground will prove to be beneficial. And, sure, we have all the communication channels at our disposal to do our listening. This doesn’t mean we should use them, though. More likely than not, it won’t be the best use of our time (or our clients).
So be smart about your information sources — especially when learning about the future leaders of our respective nations. Don’t get distracted by all the data. Look at the right numbers to find out how well a new feature is received or how a website is performing. We need to cut through all the noise, whether it’s coming from industry news items or competitors, news websites or political camps’ Facebook pages.
- So you have the data? Do the right thing for the right reasons
Act accordingly to this feedback, whether it’s changing your vote choice or scrapping a product feature. Remember who we’re building our product for and why we’re building it. Remember who you serve when you do vote and why you’re voting.
*At least until colder harder numbers arrive at the scene to question and shake the validity of such data. How accurately and fairly those numbers were arrived at is another story altogether.