Cultural Trends

It’s not going out on a limb to say that social media played a major role in winning the presidential election for Donald Trump by enabling him to fight hostile coverage and bypass the mainstream media and speak directly to his supporters. It’s been pointed out time and time again, including by Trump himself during an interview that aired on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday night.

“When you give me a bad story or when you give me an inaccurate story… I have a method of fighting back,” said Trump, who will take the oath of office on Jan. 20.

But the social space has been more than just a venue for President-elect Trump to rally supporters, call for corrections or seek vengeance, it’s a place where he can turn negative energy into positive.

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A review of ZEFR data on YouTube trends during the 2016 election cycle shows that Trump-related views didn’t just rise when he said or did something newsworthy. They spiked when the Republican candidate was attacked, and they spiked when the mainstream media was focused on his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

In late February, after Trump won several primaries, comedian John Oliver delivered a scathing monolog on his HBO show “Last Week with John Oliver.” That week, Trump’s YouTube views soared to over 80 million, double what they were just two weeks previous. A large portion of those were for the official clip of Oliver’s rant, which has racked up more than 30 million views to date.

Trump-related YouTube views soared into the 80 million range again during the week of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in late April, where President Obama mocked Trump for not being in attendance, and later in his speech added, “Next year at this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot. And it’s anyone’s guess who she will be.” (Trump was the target of repeated barbs from the president when he attended the correspondents’ dinner in 2011, which many have speculated spurred him to run for president.)

The most dramatic jump in Trump-related views came in the wake of a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Aug 9, where the candidate told the crowd, “If she gets to pick her judges ― nothing you can do, folks. Although, the Second Amendment people, maybe there is,” which suggested to some that he was calling for assassination.

While his true intent may be debatable, the affect on viewer interest was clear – views of Trump-related videos on YouTube rose by some 70 million over the previous week, hitting the 150 million range, an all-time high up to that point in the election cycle. At the same time, the popularity of Clinton-related YouTube videos also spiked, hitting about 80 million weekly views.

Two weeks earlier, Clinton scored a then-high number of weekly views, in the 95 million range, during the Democratic National Convention (DNC). That bested the 80 million-plus views Trump got during the Republican National Convention (RNC), but he outperformed her during the DNC, racking up some 100 million YouTube views, suggesting the attention paid his opponent only drove more interest in him.

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In October, the final full month of the campaign, Clinton briefly pulled ahead of Trump in YouTube views the week of their third presidential debate. But in the last week of the month – when FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to congress stating it could be reopening its probe of Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State – Trump and Clinton were neck and neck, with about 220 million weekly views apiece.

But from election day, Nov. 8, through the following Friday, Trump was back to his winning ways on YouTube, with 176.2 million views, up 34.3% over the previous week, to Clinton’s 106.9 million, which were down 40.7%.

The pollsters and pundits who were picking Clinton to win as election day loomed would’ve benefited from examining ZEFR’s sentiment analysis of the candidates’ YouTube views for October. Clinton’s negative views were 35%, while Trump’s were at 33%. Perhaps more tellingly, only 8% of Clinton’s views were deemed to be positive, while Trump’s positives were at 17%. But it was in overall view count where Trump truly demonstrated his supremacy, averaging 75.2 million views a week since Jan. 4, compared to Clinton’s 54.36 million a week during the same period.

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Ironically, YouTube viewers were less interested in Trump’s win than they were in Clinton’s loss. Trump’s victory speech (12 million-plus views for 229 videos) was edged out by Clinton’s concession speech (13.7 million-plus views for 371 videos).

This suggests two interesting possibilities: It’s not very satisfying to hate watch a victory, and even Trump supporters might be a little less passionate about their choice now that the race is run and the Washington outsider they rooted for is poised to become a Washington insider.

Interviews

Record Store Day was launched in 2007 to remind those of us galloping headlong down a path toward all things digital, that stores and communities and tangible things still mattered. The mission remains the same nearly 8 years later. However, contrary to a common assumption, the idea of Record Store Day is not inherently anti-technology. In fact, Record Store Day has harnessed the power of social media and the digital space in such effective ways, other organizations with similar goals should take heed.

“I’m glad you’ve noticed our social media,” Record Store Day co-founder and manager Carrie Colliton told ZEFR Insights. “We work very hard at it, and take pride in its organic growth. We definitely feel that supporting, and indeed running, a physical store does not preclude anyone from using technology in many ways.”

The Record Store Is Social

Digital, as it turns out, is not the enemy of analog. In fact, both can work together—as the runaway success of Record Store Day can attest—to achieve what might otherwise have been perceived as opposing forces. For the past 8 years, music lovers and vinyl collectors have lined up around street corners to get their hands on that one limited edition piece of music they crave. And many of them not only found out about where to find that desired record via social media, but hurried home to boast of their finds on YouTube to the tune of nearly 7 million views across the platform, resulting in the “haul” and “pickup” trends that have become staples of YouTube culture.

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Record Store Day also has hundreds of thousands of followers across their international Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. High-volume hashtagging is a staple of the day, tipping off fellow record hounds on the hunt to what shops have the most coveted releases in stock and announcing special live events.

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The Ambassador Spreads the Word

This year, everyone’s favorite former drummer of Nirvana, Dave Grohl, was named Record Store Day Ambassador. The honor is a favorite of musicians who get to do things such as making this video where they reminisce about their own relationship to the format while convincing a new generation about the importance of their local record shop.

“We definitely feel that supporting, and indeed running, a physical store does not preclude anyone from using technology in many ways.”

Former Record Store Day Ambassador Jack White (who is no stranger to using social media in interesting ways to generate interest in his music) went a step further, orchestrating and filming the recording of the World’s Fastest Record and posting the result to his label Third Man Records’ official YouTube channel during last year’s RSD.

The Conversation with RSD

Record Store Day is now an international event, occurring annually (along with a special Black Friday edition to entice holiday shoppers to their locally owned record shops, instead of the usual big box retailers) on the third Saturday of April. On the occasion of this year’s RSD, ZEFR Insights spoke with the UK’s Entertainment Retailers Association CEO and Record Store Day administrator Kim Bayley about the near-miraculous (and still growing) vinyl revival occurring in the midst of what is supposed to be the digital revolution.

ZEFR Insights: Was the original idea of Record Store Day simply to help a quickly disappearing cultural meeting place (the local record shop) to survive the sudden and disruptive rise of digital music delivery? Was there a moment you can recall that triggered the notion that an intervention was necessary?

Kim Bailey: In the years leading to the establishment of Record Store Day we had witnessed a gradual decline in the number of independent record shops. RSD was created to celebrate the culture of those left and to introduce a new generation of buyers to the joys of vinyl which they may not have been aware of before. More than 10 years after the introduction of mp3s and digital files, 50 percent of music is still consumed on physical formats.

“We have never considered that music buyers need to be pigeonholed into physical or digital customers.”

ZEFR: A lot of what makes Record Store Day so successful is the use of social media tools. There is a lot of activity on YouTube as well, with vinyl fans boasting about their hauls, or music aficionados offering previews and suggested picks. How do you reconcile this seeming contradiction, or is it a contradiction at all?

KB: We have never considered that music buyers need to be pigeonholed into physical or digital customers. Customers who buy both types of product and enjoy shopping in shops or buying online make use of both mediums. Digital has always served the market well in terms of immediacy and public relations whilst Record Store Day products capitalize on the joys of visiting indie retail, as well the tangibility and physicality of collecting vinyl.

ZEFR: Some in the music industry have responded to the rise in vinyl sales by calling it a “fad.” Is the vinyl revival a fad, or do you think it is saying something more about our culture and its response to the digitalization of all media?

KB: It is definitely saying something about culture. Lots of consumer research demonstrates that customers like the tangibility, physicality, and large format artwork which digital services simply cannot offer. Record Store Day only accounts for around 10 percent of the year’s vinyl sales so one would conclude that this is a bigger trend than just Record Store Day. We also know that young people are coming into the market and that will drive future sales. In 2014, UK sales of vinyl passed the 1 million mark for the first time since the Britpop era [the early to mid-‘90s], so it really doesn’t show any signs of abating.

Record Store Day 2015 is Saturday, April 18th. For more information about participating stores and a list of the day’s limited edition releases, visit: RecordStoreDay.com



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