Thursday, October 3, 2013

Passing 100,000 global Facebook Fans today

Over 102,000 global Facebook Fans

After a reconsolidating pause we relaunched Shadow Election today just in time for the Ethiopian Presidential Elections. And the engagement rate has been astonishing: around 3,000 Likes on the Facebook Page only 9 hours after we started a very lightweight ad promotion.

This has put us securely beyond the 100,000 global Facebook Fans milestone.

We have been getting CTR (click through rates) on the Facebook ads of up to 14.5%, which to anyone who knows about these things is almost unheard of.  Our average rates have been 1-3% which is also petty awesome.

And this only works if people are really motivate by the subject matter.  In addition we have been seeing great "organic" growth too.

Shadow Election has always been a big experiment as we try to find ways to help level the political playing fields in national elections and increase democratic participation.

Although many people liked the ability to rate online political videos (and articles), we saw from the analytics it was not the key user motivation.

On a number of occasions, we have had much faster Like rates on the Shadow Election Facebook Pages than we had new users to the actual service – which at first didn't seem to make sense: why would people Like us if they didn't even use the service?

It then started to dawn on us that people seem to really appreciate the party neutral space that Shadow Election provides.  In Shadow Election people are free to "shout out" for their favourite candidates, and make comments on the elections and democracy in general.

But they also like to cast a virtual vote to show their support for a candidate. This growing willingness of people to openly show their voting intentions in social media is something we witnessed developing rapidly in our first tests of Shadow Election (then know as Keskusvaalikone – central election machine)  in the Finnish Parliamentary and Presidential elections in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

Although our Finnish "Facebook" fan base is not so high, for various reasons (mostly being able to – at that time – post voting results directly to the candidates' own Facebook Pages, together with a surprise last minute battle that drew in a lot of social media activity generally) the statistics show we had a potential "impression" exposure to nearly 30% for all Finnish Facebook users.

Shadow Election has been a volunteer effort with some partner cash investments and a small Finnish government grant to cover running costs; so it was proving to be too expensive to pay for the servers and to maintain our own service without additional funding.

Fortunately, however, Juha Mattila and I found out through our day jobs in the social media agency Zipipop Freud, that we could use a the Offerpop service to replicate the popular "live" voting poll.

And it seems to be working very nicely indeed – although if there is one more thing we have learnt is that the reaction in every country is different.  Also the nature of the relationship between the Shadow Election and the real elections results has varied considerably; but, having said that, there has always been significant correlations between the two.

Of course we want to go back to developing something more sophisticated as soon as we can, and here is our current suggestion for the next experiment (based on the thoughts of our passionate CTO Alex Keskitalo – the father of the Shadow Election concept):

Users rate what they think the candidates stand for.

This would have some profound consequences:

  • What people think candidates represent is in many ways more relevant than what the candidates say they stand for.
  • Candidates should be very keen to follow Shadow Election and try to engage with the service when they see their message is not coming through as they thought – or visa verse.
  • It keeps the all important human "face" while also enabling issues to be rated and the data collected for analysis.
  • It would hopefully give another user activity alongside the popular voting.

We would love to know what our community thinks about this approach as the next step forward.

And the more Fans we continue to get the more chances we have of raising funding – so please do help spread the word.

I am really excited by our last minute involvement with the Ethiopian Presidential Election because I lived and worked in Ethiopia for over 3 years.  While there I gathered many fond memories and friends, and would love to help support the democratic development. 

It is important to emphasize that our poll is neither scientific nor representative of the registered voters in Ethiopia – it is, however, a "social object" for people from all over the world to gather around and have a debate about how the real elections and candidates could and should be.

I thank everyone who has so far engaged with Shadow Election Ethiopia, and I wish those living in Ethiopia peaceful and successful elections. 

Richard von Kaufmann, Chair & co-founder

Click here to find out more about the Shadow Election team, and special thanks to our Commander-in-Chief, Juha Mattila, for keeping the dream alive and pushing us on ever upwards. 

NB: The roots of Shadow Election are in Finland where the current Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegnstudied for his Masters degree in Sanitation Engineering.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Calling all Kenyans around the world


Global opinions 

It is part of the long-term aims of Shadow Election to capture global opinions on global issues and to influence politicians to work together to solve them for the benefit of all nations. We are currently far away from being able to implement these lofty ambitions, however, as a step on that journey, we introduced the global voting map for the current Kenyan elections – and would therefore like to encourage the Kenyan diaspora to cast a vote in Shadow Election Kenya

The Central Bank of Kenya says that 1.3 billion USD was sent back in remittances, which, with a GDP of around 41.84 billion, means that about 2.8% of Kenya's GDP is provided by the diaspora. 

Currently there are about 1.5 million Kenyans registered at embassies abroad but only those in the East African Community or able to go to an embassy "in person" will be eligible to vote in the upcoming March 5th elections.  This obviously severely restricts the potential number of diaspora votes. 

For the IEBC (Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission) there are obviously logistical challenges in enabling more diaspora voting; however, one would hope in the next elections a country that is renowned of being able to send large amounts of money by mobile phone will be able to deliver postal or remote e-voting options. 

For the time being, however, the diaspora can with minimal effort cast a virtual vote, and campaign for their preferred candidate via Shadow Election. This vote does not obviously count as a real vote, but if it can help influence the voting of friends and family back in Kenya then it could almost become a proxy vote; and at least some active engagement has been made. 

Global voting

We believe that the world is now so integrated that what happens politically in one country effects us all to a greater or lesser extent – be it through trade, migration, military aggression, remittances, etc Therefore it is not without relevance to see information on how other nationals view our own politicians.  Shadow Election is not alone in this regard as The Economist ran a global poll on who should be the next US President in the 2012 elections, and Obama was the clear international winner. 

We have never claimed to be a scientific poll but social media is increasingly being seen as another tool to gauge public opinion – as can by seen by the use of social media statistics in the Daily Nation's Kenya Elections site. 

So go make your voice heard in Shadow Election Kenya!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Questions to the presidential candidates of Kenya elections 2013

The following questions are proposed openly to all of the candidates running for presidency of Kenya in the elections held on March 2013. We hope that all the candidates would answer them with as concise answers as possible. The more compact the answer, the more comfortable it is for the users to read since they are presented side by side.

The answers of the candidates are published in as soon as we get the first candidate´s answers to the questions. The answers will be rated by the public. 

The questions are sent to the candidates by e-mail and the candidates are asked to return the answers by replying that e-mail. Thank you very much in advance!

1. How would you manage a country with devolved governments? 

2. What policies would you develop to ensure smooth transition to the devolved governments? 

3. How would you ensure the smooth running of the devolved governments?

4. How would your government ensure the judiciary carries out its mandate of ensuring free, fair and expedient justice? 

5. How do you envision the working relationship between the judiciary, the executive and the legislature to be?

6. What policies would you develop to ensure that resources such as oil are managed efficiently with the effect of bringing growth in the entire country? 

7. How do you intend to tackle social issues such as drug abuse and alcoholism? 

8. What is your opinion on gender inequality in Kenya? 

9. How would you handle the issue of prostitution in Kenya?

10. Should the people of same gender be entitled to get married? 

11. How do you intend to manage the national economy as a whole for the next five years? 

12. What sort of fiscal and monetary policies would your government subscribe to stimulate economic growth?  

13. What do you intend to do about runaway inflation?

14. What policies would you come up with to return Kenya to her rightful place as  an agricultural powerhouse, to ensure food security and to improve the balance of payment through agriculture?

15. What would your government's policy position be on income tax, VAT, corporate tax, excise duty, customs duty and fuel levy? 

16. How do you intend to tackle internal and external security threats from terrorist cells, criminal gangs, secessionists groups and external aggressors as in the Migingo island case?

17. What sort of land policies would your government come up with to bring reforms, equality and justice in land distribution?

18. How do you intend to curb the vice of corruption and bring about good governance?

19. What is your commitment level to ensure the new constitution is fully implemented and what time frame do you promise to do this?

20. How do you intend to tackle hard issues such as the integrity issue and gender balance in elective and appointive representation?

21. What is the way forward for universal high-quality healthcare?

22. What is the way forward for universal high-quality pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary education? (Shoul Kenyans expect your government to provide free University education?)
23. What is the way forward for affordable public transport and commuter trains?

24. What is your position on infrastructural development and what role do you think public-private-partnership and foreign direct investment should play in infrastructural and industrial development?

25. How do you intend to tackle the issue of unemployment, especially among the youth and how do you propose to create sustainable employment opportunities?

26. How would your government tackle the ICC issue in case of an eventuality of convictions, 

27. What would you propose to do to bring justice to victims of PEV and at the same time bring about peace, cohesion and reconciliation?

28. What would your government do to ensure that PEV never occurs again?

29. If you were not elected, which other presidential candidate would you support and why?

30. Why should you be elected as the next president of Kenya?