A New Algorithm: Understanding the Difference Between Momentum, Movements & Mishegoss

We are witnessing a new style of media with the ascendancy of President Trump.  The simple way to describe his style of media is to say that he chooses to speak direct to the world via Twitter.  That’s true, but it sells short what is actually happening.

President Trump and his team understand the value of driving a narrative to shape our behaviors, whether it is pro or con.  Inherent in this approach is the ability to reach us emotionally, distract us and motivate us to action, depending on the circumstances.   As a result, it is not just that we have the first president who is using direct media.  We have the first president who will shape our thinking on a daily basis, as he pursues short, mid and long-term objectives.

What we know about ourselves, as individuals, and for communities and groups, overall, is that when our emotions are triggered, we are often thinking of what is short-term … in fact, only what is short-term.   This side-effect of thinking emotionally allows us to be distracted or misdirected by the way a story is told.  It’s a bit like a magician who gets us to concentrate on the wrong thing as they get ready to unveil a card.  You can do this now by going direct to the world via social media in ways never possible before via journalists.

And this is why we are building a new algorithm that provides a four-dimensional view of what is really going on.  Our data science team is using a combo of algorithmic and machine learning knowledge to create an approach that centers on key variables, such as how to analyze Trump’s following (his own, his appointees and his wider team), all members of Congress and key staffers, the media and other important audiences.  We compare this against normative data sets.  In the case of twitter, we’re talking about normative panels that are 1 million people or more and other normative data sets that give us a great insight into what is truly resonating.

The result is an approach that allows us to see what is a distraction vs. what is the Trump team is interested in truly pursuing vs. what is resonating with key target audiences.  As an example, we may now see that key target audiences deeply care about a topic President Trump is discussing, but it is not being pushed or discussed by the majority of his team.  Or his team is clearly pushing a certain message … we can see that federal and state officials are also interested in it, yet the general public is not.   There are many variations that can show us when a topic is truly gaining traction with the people who can either support or stop the momentum of an idea.  In other cases, we’ll be able to see quite quickly what is falling with a thud … not by examining the mainstream media … but by understanding what voters and those with influence to create or support legislation think.   Tracking the right people, knowing exactly who really drives influence and understanding how support is evolving, either way, will become increasingly obvious over time.

Inherent in this model is also a deep understanding of subconscious behavior.  Just looking at what everyone says or retweets is interesting, but insights become powerful when we look at the meaning of silence for certain groups or apathy and withdrawal from a topic.  It is equally important to look at the intensity of protagonism or antagonism to understand what is true passion that may move the needle and what is really just slacktivism or people kind of going through the motions.  Subconscious behavior and looking into psychological changes are keys in the algorithms we now build.

It’s interesting that new models like this will certainly include mainstream media, but they are not at all dependent on them to draw conclusions that will accurately inform companies of what reality is forming for their reputation or brand.  In fact, in many cases in the political arena, they are actually a false positive.  Whether it was this past election or BREXIT or other recent campaigns, this is borne out over and over again.

We’ll be sharing some of our initial work at the Holmes Report’s IN2 Summit in Chicago on Feb 16th.   And for our clients, we’ll be ready to ensure that every tweet or new idea is met with a system to judge its real impact, now or in the future, as it relates to their actual business objectives.

Best, Bob

Bob Pearson
Bob Pearson
Vice Chairman & Chief Innovation Officer

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