The ANC could’ve better foreseen its less-than-desirable performance in the 2016 Municipal Elections, had it paid attention to the dissatisfied voices of South Africans on social media.

This is according to  Cape Town-based journalist and political analyst, Stef Terblanche, who added that the DA and EFF could’ve also gauged where the electorate was least satisfied with them, by also doing the same.

“Perhaps the party could have stemmed the haemorrhage timeously had it heeded the voices on Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms. The major trends were there, plain for all to see,” Terblanche said.

“Not that the political parties did not make use of social media in their campaigns. But instead of mining more effectively into what ordinary voters were thinking and saying, and reacting accordingly to pre-emptively arrest negative trends, political leaders spent more time attacking each other on Twitter and Facebook,” he added.

According to crowd integrated media analytics and insights company BrandsEye, although social media already played a significant role in the 2014 general election, it came of age in South Africa, in these elections.

Accurate predictions

BrandsEye captured positive mentions of political parties in social media, analysed them in the weeks before the election and correctly identified the likely voting trends.

“Right up to the last minute the situation was very fluid, with many voters possibly making up their minds who to vote for only on election day. But in the end it was the things people were talking about on social media that drove the election outcome,” Terblanche said.

“The overall conversation, and the key insights it provided, should have alerted the politicians as to what lay in store. The insights gained by this research before the elections, are now generally supported by the media, analysts and political leaders in their own postmortems of the result,” he added.

Positive vs Negative sentiments for each party

When broken down to each of the most contested metros, Terblanche explained that the positive and negative sentiments expressed towards parties paint and interesting, yet familiar picture.

“In the case of the DA and EFF, positive sentiment towards both in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro hinged on expectations of job creation. This offers the two parties a key opportunity to find common ground if they decide to work together and form a coalition, rather than focusing on their differences,” he said.

“Perhaps it is not too late for the political parties to take serious note of the views expressed by their supporters and their opponents on social media when they now start an uncertain period of negotiations around forming coalition governments. To see what ordinary voters expect from their parties on this score, watch this space…and the social media,” he concluded.

[Image – CC oinonio]