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Elections boon for social media analysts


The upcoming regional elections are a boon for Yose Rizal, director of PoliticaWave, one of the nation’s first social media-monitoring sites.

With more Indonesians going online to talk about politics, political candidates are turning not only to political analysts but also social media analysts to gain insights into the profiles and interests of eligible voters, which are key to devising effective campaign strategies.

In February 2017, voters in 101 regions across the country will elect their regional heads, and the resulting buzz has been reflected on social media.

Yose said that a number of campaign teams had requested them to provide dedicated in-depth analyses from social media outlets.

“We actually provide election analyses on our website, but the campaign teams have asked for more detailed results,” he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

With more people using the internet to access social media sites and politicians now targeting internet users in their campaigns, political conversations on social media could be a predictor of elections.

In 2012, PoliticaWave correctly predicted that Joko “Jokowi” Widodo would win the Jakarta gubernatorial election by a slight margin against then incumbent candidate Fauzi Bowo after analyzing online conversation on the Jakarta election from 900,000 social media accounts.

It found that Jokowi got 55 percent of the buzz from social media users, while Fauzi only got 41 percent. In the election Jokowi won 54 percent of the vote and Fauzi garnered 47 percent.

In 2014, it made another prediction about Jokowi’s chances in the presidential election against Prabowo Subianto, and it was on the mark.

Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Anies Baswedan and his running mate, Sandiaga Uno have hired a data consultant to give them updates on opinion patterns on social media and news outlets.

“The provider will give us daily updates on big data analysis from social media services and mass media,” Anies-Sandiaga campaign chief Mardani Ali said.

He said the team would use the daily analyses to determine direction and strategies to increase Anies-Sandiaga’s electability.

“Facebook represents the opinions of middle and lower-income people, while Instagram reflects the youth voice. On Twitter, we track how important people convey opinions,” he said.

Yose said that big data arrangements generally comprised text analytics from keyword and phrase identification. “For instance, if we want to monitor how many internet users are talking about [Jakarta gubernatorial candidate] Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, we input words related to him on social media services and media outlets, such as his tagline ‘Jakarta untuk rakyat’ [Jakarta for the people].”

“Then we track the big data noises as well as conversations to identify people’s opinions of Agus and create an analysis of that.”

Yose said he was confident that social media analysis could predict the outcome of the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election. “If Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama is the most positively talked-about person on the internet among his rivals, he will win the election.”

Based on a survey conducted by PoliticaWave that observed social media discourse from Sept. 23 to Oct. 3, there were 243,859 conversations related to the gubernatorial election on social media: 146,460 conversations about Ahok-Djarot Saiful Hidayat, 62,584 about Anies-Sandiaga and 34,815 about Agus-Sylviana Murni.

According to the latest survey from the Internet Service Providers Association (APJII), 97 percent of 132.7 million Indonesians with internet connections are known to be avid social media users.

Facebook tops the position of the most accessed social media services, with 71.6 million users or 54 percent of the country’s total internet users. Instagram and YouTube are in second and third with 19.9 million and 14.5 million users, respectively.

According to APJII, big data was among the major sources of income for services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Path.

“The services can sort the recent most popular subjects among their users, and currently the most discussed are those related to the upcoming 2017 regional election,” APJII secretary general Henri Kasyfi Soemartono said.

Twitter Indonesia communication manager Cipluk Carlita said the platform had its big data-dedicated service, GNIP, which is offered at customized prices.

She confirmed that the general election had been the most discussed topic among Twitter users.

“Seventy-seven percent of Indonesian Twitter users are active users, and politics is among the most discussed topic here,” she said.

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