Having the advantage of the incumbent and tapping a group of social media influencers helped boost the Facebook visibility of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama. Former Cebu City Councilor Margot Osmeña, however, scored high when it came to positive public reaction despite being under-reported in the social media sentiment analytics generated for MyCebu.ph.

The analysis by data scientists Wilson Chua and Roger Do, both of ADDS Sentiment Analysis, covers Facebook data from February 1, 2022 to March 13, 2022. It only covers Rama, Osmeña, and Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, the top candidates for the post. The report processed 188,910 data points, according to the authors.

Chua and Do said the performance of Osmeña is under-reported in their analytics because data from her main Facebook outlet, a page with 55,000 followers, could not be processed due to data privacy regulations. It started out as a personal profile that was converted into a page. This history of the page was confirmed to this writer by Osmeña’s former key aide.

Independent candidate Tumulak, while behind, is doing good in some metrics.

The sentiment analytics report was generated upon the request of MyCebu.ph. Chua and Do were behind the widely reported analysis of Vice President Leni Robredo overtaking Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Facebook.

Rama, according to the report, leads in Social Publicity, which measures the number of Facebook posts discussing the candidates. The higher percentages mean a higher number of posts mentioning the candidate. Rama, as the incumbent mayor, has more opportunities to be in the news and to be mentioned on Facebook because of his frequent news events such as press conferences.

City Hall has also reinvigorated its Public Information Office and its staff regularly posts updates related to projects and events through a blog recently set up and a Facebook page that was newly opened. The Cebu City PIO page under the late Mayor Edgar Labella, according to an official of the current administration, was not turned over to them.

The Rama campaign also tapped a group of social media influencers, a member of that group told this writer. That information was shared before the report was requested and without Chua and Do being informed about it. MyCebu is withholding their names at social media influencers’ request – citing confidentiality of their arrangement.

Rama also led in Content Virality and Social Engagement. Content virality measures total shares of posts on social media. “This index measures the total actual reach of organic sharing, paid distribution, and affiliate networks (organized trolls). We also use the virality of swing fan pages as a benchmark to evaluate friend and opposition fan pages to derive organic sharing indexes to test new messages and policies.”

Social engagement is the key metric, Chua and Do said in their report. “It is of prime importance to measure the public’s total reaction to the candidate’s account in terms of emotive, sharing, and commentary. From our experience with 80+ elections, this variable has the highest correlation to vote generation prediction.”

When it came to social sentiment, however, Osmeña led by a wide margin both Rama and Tumulak when it came to positive reaction. This metric, Chua said, is very important when it comes to vote conversion.

Unlike traditional surveys that tap scientific sampling to get the sentiments of a target population, big data analytics like what Chua and Do did process huge amounts of data made available by technology platforms. When asked about their accuracy compared with traditional polling, Chua told a recent show by Dr. Guido David of OCTA Research that they are ahead of surveys. He said “sentiment predicts future preference.”

Surveys and big data analyses are snapshots in time and with the elections still weeks away, the outcome is far from certain. These data points, however, are used by campaigns to adjust tactics and tweak messaging.

Max Limpag is a journalist, blogger, and developer based in Cebu. He started as a reporter covering Cebu City Hall in 1996. He has written on technology for various print and digital publications since...