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2016 – Complete disaster or Social Media Revolution?

This blog post has been in a draft state for some time, and the end of the year felt an appropriate time to share it.

I began to make observations earlier in the year following Brexit, when in my mind no matter which way you voted, the seemingly impossible became a reality.

As an ambassador of Social Media for business, I began to wonder about the potential impact it was having on our day to day life and ‘reality’. Then along came Honey-G. Surely, no-one was stupid enough to put her through to anything on the X-Factor, never mind her make the finals and get down to week 8? Again, the reality was (disturbingly) distorted. Then came Donald Trump becoming the American President. I don’t think I need to say any more about where I am going with this.

As a logical girl, I decided to do some research to see if there was any substance behind my concern that Social Media could be affecting the world in 2016.

Let’s start with Brexit. I asked myself, had Social Media helped the ‘out’ vote? The simple answer is absolutely 100% – yes. According to research conducted by The University of Oxford, millions of people were motivated, persuaded and mobilised through the Internet to vote for Brexit. Ironically, back in 2009, David Cameron said of the Internet; “it turns lonely fights into mass campaigns; transforms moans into movements and excited the attention of hundreds, thousands, millions of people and stirs them into action”. Boy, he wasn’t wrong. So why did the Remain camp lose the social fight? The research showed that Brexit supporters delivered a more powerful and emotional message and were simply better at using social media. On Instagram alone, there was twice as many Brexit Supporters, and they were five times more active. On Twitter, Brexit supporters outnumbered Remain supporters by 7 to 1. The top three hashtags in the data found were for the ‘Leave’ camp. Whether we like it or not, social media is accelerating change politically.

So how about Donald Trump. The unlikeliest of candidates who despite the polls and pundits won. It has been said that his use of Social Media was a huge contributor if not the reason for him being elected? OK – so the facts. He was transparent – managing a lot of his activity and he waded through key issues with an iron tongue and brutal honestly. Not only did he kick Hillary’s butt on Twitter with new followers and retweets by millions, but he also outperformed her socially on for an entire 30 day period before the election day. Pro-trump hashtags outnumbered Clinton by 71%, and engagement and reach was phenomenally above the Clinton camp.

The above political stuff is compelling and backs up my view of the power of social media, but, I remain niggled about the Honey G phenomena. She generated traffic. #HoneyG rates at 42.7 on the Hashtag rating system with winner #MattTerry coming in at 28.9. The majority of that traffic was negative towards her, so who created that traffic and why?? #FixFactor rated 32.6 – #justsaying.

There is no questioning that during 2016 we lost some absolute legends of music, TV/film and sport – and for many 2016 will be a bad year for that reason. With my fear of pseudo-reality, I decided to look a little further into the main deaths and to see if there was anything unusual other than there being a cluster of very notable individuals. Of the deaths, the average age was 77, only four years below the expected average. The youngest being Caroline Ahern at 53, and Zsa Zsa Gabor being the oldest at 99. A quarter was female, over half of the deceased were aged over 80 and eight died from Cancer – all of which remains representative of our population.

Are more celebrities dying, or are the events somehow bigger due to Social Media and the Internet? I am still randomly in tears over George Michael, and so while this is a sore subject for me, I will be looking closely at the stats in 2017 to see where this goes. The number of actual celebrity deaths in 2016 remains on par with 2015 – one to watch (and let us hope all the other greats are in hiding till Sunday).

So what’s the lesson in all this? We all know social media results in visibility. And for businesses, there is no questioning that more visibility leads to more customers and more customers mean (usually) more profit. The biggest lesson in here is that extraordinary results can come from effective digital marketing. With the right techniques, you can spend less money, reach more people and achieve the impossible.

If we can help you do something extraordinary with your social media in 2017, contact us