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Fast facts: What's the social sentiment like as Lawrence Wong becomes PM?

Fast facts: What's the social sentiment like as Lawrence Wong becomes PM?

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Today, Singapore will get a new prime minister after nearly 20 years of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong holding the reigns. In a handover ceremony at 8pm, deputy Prime Minister and minister for finance Mr Lawrence Wong will be sworn in as the new Prime Minister. 

Ahead of the handover ceremony, media intelligence firm Truescope took a look at the social media conversations and sentiments from the day the news was announced, 15 April, to 21 April. Over the course of seven days, the 30 most engaged social media posts across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Forums from each day were analysed to surface common narratives and sentiments from netizens.

Don't miss: DPM Lawrence Wong and brand Singapore: What's the role of social?

This is especially important because of how important social media is when it comes to branding an important politician and country as a while. 

Truescope found that while Facebook has the most amount of conversations about the handover, Instagram's share of voice (SOV) of interactions overshadowed all other platforms combined.

This showcases the immense reach of Instagram, said Truescope. However, it was also observed that chatter on visual-based platforms such as Instagram and TikTok were short lived.

Instagram has the highest ratio of positive narratives among the four platforms. Positive narratives such as expressions of support towards DPM Wong and PM Lee were observed consistently until 19 April.

Comments on Facebook were more nuanced but were still dominated by positive reception towards the handover.

TikTok maintained a relatively balanced ratio of positive to negative comments compared to the other platforms, but surfaced a variety of different topics, said Truescope. 

Instagram

The chatter on Instagram significantly dropped after the initial announcement of the handover on 15 April.

The news continued to gain some traction in the succeeding days with a minimal spike on 20 April. Instagram had the highest ratio of positive narratives among the four platforms, said Truescope. 

Positive narratives such as expressions of support towards DPM Wong and PM Lee were observed consistently until 19 April. However, in the subsequent days, chatter on Instagram were mixed as fringe issues were brought in.

Facebook

Meanwhile, chatter on Facebook gradually decreased with a minimal uptick on 20 April. Comments were nuanced but leaned towards positive reception of the handover. Support for DPM Wong persisted until 19 April, while approval for PM Lee lasted all the way through 21 April. 

While there was a consistent trend of support towards both DPM Wong and
PM Lee, it was balanced by some netizens beginning to express criticism towards the politicians in the middle of the week.

Chatter on forums

Chatter on forums also saw a gradual decline until 18 April from the initial announcement of the handover. However, this issue gained additional traction between 19 to 20 April following Minister K Shanmugam’s criticism of a commentary by The Economist on Singapore’s political leadership handover.

In the article, The Economist said that Mr. Wong will be "only" Singapore's fourth prime minister in its 59-year history and that he was not the 4G leader's first choice. Shanmugam clapped back saying that the publication could not resist looking down on Singapore because of the "unconscious of the British commentariat class."

“They can’t stand that a people they were accustomed to lecturing are now doing better than they are, across the board,” said Shanmugam. Traction tapered back again on 21 April.

What is happening on TikTok?

Although TikTok had one of the least SOV across platforms, it surfaced a vast range of narratives within the week.  The platform maintained a relatively balanced ratio of positive to negative comments compared to Facebook and Instagram. There was no definitive trend in netizens' feedback regarding the handover, as conversations on new TikTok posts were short lived.

Sentiments on TikTok were mixed. Interestingly, negative sentiments were
slightly more prevalent in the immediate term after the handover announcement as netizens raised cost-of-living concerns. Nonetheless, these sentiments faded out quickly in the subsequent days.

The importance of a social media presence 

PM Lee’s Facebook and Instagram pages were among the top social media posts that garnered the highest comments on Facebook and Instagram, respectively. Meanwhile, DPM Wong has built a great following on TikTok and his page topped out TikTok engagement with over 2,000 unique comments, according to Truescope. 

This suggests the importance for public figures to curate a strong presence on social media platforms to ensure visibility and reach and facilitate more direct and intimate connections with the public.

Interestingly, among the local forums, HardwareZone Forum garnered the highest volume of comments by unique source, which underscores its importance in understanding public opinions and discourse around key topics of interest.

Through the study, it found that the affordances of each social media platform spanning content formats, engagement dynamics and information sharing plays an influential role in shaping a user’s preference in utilising a social media platform.

As a result, one can expect that each platform attracts distinct demographic cohorts, leading to nuanced discussions and perspectives.

It is also crucial to acknowledge differences in conversation longevity across platforms. While chatter across all platforms generally tapered after the initial announcement of the leadership handover, data reveals that Facebook and Forums exhibit greater resilience over time compared to TikTok and Instagram, said Truescope. 

Despite an initial drop-off, the volume of comments remains higher on Facebook and Forums in the long term. This insight underscores the importance of sustained monitoring efforts across diverse platforms.

"Each social media platform offers unique affordances which appeals to diverse people. With such varied demographics and user bases, conversations across each platform are expected to be wide-ranging. Organisations should thus cast their nets wide to truly grasp the richness of public discourse," said Ho Wei Yang, head of insights at Truescope. 

The role of social in branding a country

True enough, branding a country is not a simple task and what is communicated – consciously or unconsciously – is as important as the target audiences’ broader perceptions of a country, according to WIPO. As such, with what is imminent for DPM Wong at the moment is how to best craft his reputation and public image, according to Shufen Goh, principal and co-founder of R3. 

When a politician’s credibility is so closely tied to their public image, every choice he makes, whether it’s a speech, a post or a video, will be closely scrutinised.

To do so, Wong has been active on social media platforms to reach the country and the world where they are - online. "The act of using social media seems to indicate an openness and transparency of communication that previous generations of politicians were not expected to embrace," explained Goh.

"Unlike Prime Minister Lee who had to pioneer the use of social media while in office, Wong is considered a digital native so the expectation is that he will be savvier in engaging citizens across the digital spectrum, with less tolerance for any missteps," she said.

Saying that, in his branding on social media, Wong cannot just box his posts to just focus on trends on the more popular channels such as TikTok and Instagram. Which is why he is also now leveraging LinkedIn to disseminate key information. 

"Politicians’ shift to LinkedIn ensures they do not over-index on a young audience, promoting awareness from professionals and business communities on the platform," explained Goh. 

Adding to her point, Paul Soon, CEO of MullenLowe Singapore and Shanghai noted that using a variety of social platforms is the "surest" way to reach a larger audience and establish a greater influence on the narrative the politicians want to shape regardless of the topic.

"Even MNC CEOs want to know more about Singapore's leaders as human beings instead of just more marketing messages. LinkedIn has broader impact beyond the intended use. It’s a great way to mix business with pleasure," he said. 

Photo courtesy of Lawrence Wong (Facebook). 

Join us on 12 June 2024 for an exciting experience as Content360 makes its debut in Malaysia! Brace yourself to join the crème de la crème of the content marketing industry hailing from across the region. Immerse yourself in a dynamic atmosphere, and uncover the latest trends with thought leaders and solution providers from the realm of content.

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