June 2, 2017

3 Ways to Use SAM for the UK General Election

Almar Sheikh by Almar Sheikh

We’re one week away from the next UK General Election and newsrooms are in high gear. With so much going on in the news cycle it’s crucial that news organizations operate with efficiency and prepare their coverage strategies. With elections we have a somewhat set and predictable calendar of events, we find newsrooms are most effective when they anticipate storylines they want to cover and set-up social alert wires to monitor ongoing developments. With this, they are positioned to be the first to break these stories to the public.

Let’s take a look at 3 different scenarios we can anticipate for reporting on the UK general election.

Campaign Promises

It’s no secret that politicians make a lot of promises and often a lot of these promises go unfulfilled. Heck, Theresa May once promised not to go to the polls before 2020. So, we can usually count on this as being a topic of interest during a political cycle — let’s make sure we’re set up for success.

In SAM you can use collections to keep an organized library of social content. This library will remain intact even with rapid decaying nature on social media. In this case, we’ll want to make a collection of the different promises UK politicians have made through social platforms. We won’t know which of these pieces of content will carry value, since we don’t yet know which promises will be broken, so it’s best to cast a wide net and collect as much information as you think could become relevant.

For example, when those championing the Brexit movement needed a promise to rally the public to vote to leave the EU, they very publicly declared that if they could leave the EU they would be able reallocate 350 million pounds to the NHS. Pictures of “battle buses” and billboards with the campaigns promise quickly circulated around social media. However after the election, when those championing the vote to leave had won, this promise was abandoned. In this example, the NHS promise was heavily publicized, but statements like these are made all the time on social media and often fly under the mainstream media radar — if collected and archived they can be valuable assets for reporting in the future.

Local Campaigning and Political Rallies

An additional, but more geo-centric, approach is to anticipate and monitor political rallies and polling station, likely to produce social commentary around political issues. For example, during the lead up to this election Jeremy Corbyn’s rally created both a news story and large amounts of rich social content.

Each political party publicly lists the time and date of their upcoming events. By setting up SAM geo-searches to monitor these locations, you can be the first to report on any noteworthy activity.

Anticipated and Responses

Elections also bring leaked information and with leaked information we can always count on comments from the affected party and from the opposition. Usually these comments are first published on social media, since the parties are trying to reach the largest audience possible as quickly as possible.

For example, when the Labour party’s manifesto was leaked, there was prompt commentary on Twitter and Facebook from Conservative MP’s which was quickly followed by defensive statements from the Labour representatives. We can keep track of all this by creating SAM Lists, composed of MP’s from each party, and monitoring these lists for mentions on specific keywords the become of interest (in this case: manifesto). From here we can quickly pull together a collection of comments made on social media by the Conservative opposition and the Labour party on the defensive.

Another expected event where we can apply a similar approach is the announcement of the winner of the election. As with any competition there has to be a winner and once a winner in named there will be a social reaction. It can be helpful to create a SAM list of a specific group that is likely to respond once a winner has been announced, like the world’s current political leaders, and monitor this list for words like “congrats”, “congratulations”, and “winning”. One the election results are declared, you’ll be in a great position to quickly curate a publish a collection of world leader reactions.

A bit of preparation can go a long way as the momentum of the election picks up. These three scenarios are just a few of the ways you can use SAM prepare and anticipate.

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