In Asia, politics advances onto the Internet with force and politicians know they must maintain their online reputations. With fake news contributing to overall negative sentiment, this can relentlessly cost candidates during elections.

Here at DREP, we have taken a dive into the analysis of Malaysia’s #GE14 battle, tomorrow, between Prime Minister Najib Razak and former PM Mahathir Mohamad. We’ve put together a comparison of the available internet and social media content relating to these political foes.

So, who do you think has a better online reputation?

 

Skeletons in the Closet

NAJIB RAZAK
DREP Score28.22
Weighted Sentiment55.43%
Neutral
Purity Weighted Volume1,450,000 results
Top 3 Positive Articles
Top 3 Negative Articles
Facebook AnalysisActivity

Posts per day: 6.7

Engagement

  • People talking about this: 371,023
  • Engagement rate: 11%
MAHATHIR MOHAMAD
DREP Score21.33
Weighted Sentiment37.78%
Negative
Purity Weighted Volume3,514,286 results
 Top 3 Positive Articles
Top 3 Negative Articles
 

Facebook Analysis

Activity

Posts per day: 2.6

Engagement

  • People talking about this: 177,121
  • Engagement rate: 7%

Overall, Prime Minister Najib certainly has someone helping him to portray a neutral online reputation. For anyone starting to search for PM Najib’s news, there is a high chance that they would be able to get a mixture of positive and neutral impressions of his campaign. However, we saw some posts where PM Najib is seen to repeat the frame of the opposition parties (e.g. Malay tsunami).

On former PM Mahathir, there was less curation in terms of mentions that were trending, therefore contributing towards an overall negative sentiment. We also saw attempts to bring up his past and quotes that were not very favourable to him.

While many politicians still have a long way to go before fully mastering this medium, the importance of online reputation cannot be understated.

Digital Engagement

Political candidates in today’s era don’t have it so easy. Aside from traditional media outlets, candidates have to face unseen foes online – such as websites, blogs, forums and social media comments.

With the help of the internet, anyone with a grudge on a Party, can slander, defame and even destroy a candidate’s reputation, from the anonymity of a remote keyboard. You can spend more time defending your online reputation, rather than nurturing it.

Furthermore, there are some things that the mainstream media simply won’t publish or broadcast, so as to avoid corroborating and substantiating and defamatory claims. Supporters and non-supporters alike might take this unpublished mudslinging as an avenue to channel negative discussions online, at the same time, educating (or miseducating) voters about a candidate’s true persona.

It is clear that safeguarding online reputations of political candidates, to defend their good names, is essential to winning an election in the 21st century. A bad online reputation can significantly set you back.

Fortunately, the Internet has also made it easier to track political candidates. A simple Google search can pull up news that spans from hours to decades ago. Regardless of its substance or truthfulness, search engine queries link all content found in blog posts or articles, with the candidate’s name. Clearly, the power of the Internet can affect political campaign positively or harmfully.

Maintaining Your Reputation

It is essential that political hopefuls engage in proactive online reputation management. Here are a few ways to generate positive sentiment online:

  • Get as much coverage on your involvement in positive events/news

The only way to bash negative news on the Internet is to balance it with positive content. While this may be time-consuming, it can ultimately be the most successful tactic.

  • Register the candidate’s name with an official website

Have a domain name for the official website to be registered using the candidate’s real name. PM Najib has done this well with his own website recording all the positive news that he has generated (https://www.najibrazak.com/en/). This gives credibility and pushes any negative content to the later pages of Google’s search results.

  • Be present on all online platforms

Ensure that the candidate is present on all online accounts – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Google will rank these profile accounts much higher. It also gives your followers a chance to connect with you on every platform.

Eventually, changes in search engine results pages will change people’s impression as they are constantly searching for your information. Think about it. If your first impression is negative, how do you think people will vote when they get to the polls? Effective online reputation management for politicians is becoming a cornerstone of successful campaigning.

Farhana Aziz

Author Farhana Aziz

More posts by Farhana Aziz

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