"A combined research by Attentio and Hill & Knowlton reveals that buzz on Belgian blogs was more accurate in predicting last months federal elections than most opinion polls. Attentio monitored how many times Belgian politicians and parties were mentioned on Belgian blogs two months ahead of the elections until day of elections, June 10th. By monitoring blogs before the elections the success of Jean-Marie Dedecker, Yves Leterme and Didier Reynders could have been predicted.
The coverage we achieved following the research we did together with Attentio on the impact of blogs on the outcome of the Belgian elections, proves that blogging is a hot issue, also in Belgium. Another conclusion is that still many research is needed in this field. PR agencies can play an important role in bringing blogs closer to clients and vice versa....
Yves Leterme and Didier Reynders beat their direct opponents
During the whole election period Yves Leterme (CD&V / N-VA) received more buzz than former Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt (OpenVLD) and Johan Vande Lanotte (SP.a) hardly came close to the blogger buzz generated by the two others. Jean-Marie Dedecker (LDD) was the biggest surprise. Although his overall buzz was low it increased by a startling 275% between April and the elections in June. In that respect he defeats any other candidate.
The Blogging community on the French speaking side of Belgium wasn’t as active but still gave a strong indication of voters’ intentions. Didier Reynders (MR) was trailing di Rupo (PS) until the end of May and once he overtook his rival, he never looked back. Joëlle Milquet (CdH) was lagging behind until the last week before the elections when she pushed for the line, but came up way short of her other adversaries.
Blogs reveal trends not picked up by opinion polls or classical media
“We monitored blogs in Belgium with one of our agency partners XGM in the run up to the Belgian federal elections on June 10th. Based on the results, trends appeared that were not picked up by the opinion polls and predictions published by many media. Analysing blogs and forums can be very powerful, predictive and explicative as many politicians and businesses are now discovering” says Simon McDermott, CEO of Attentio.
Even though former Prime Minister Verhofstadt scored a higher media buzz than his direct opponent Leterme, the latter beat Verhofstadt when it came to blog buzz. Media buzz is the sum of blog buzz and coverage on news sites. The third Flemish contender in the race for ‘Wetstraat 16’, Johan Vande Lanotte was not able to thrill the Belgian blogging community. Jean-Marie Dedecker, the biggest surprise on Election Day didn’t score extremely well, but he had a 275% increase in blog buzz compared to 218% for Leterme and Verhofstadt, his nearest opponent.
“It is interesting to see that blogs give such an accurate view of the outcome of elections. This is a clear indication that the impact of blogs becomes more significant and tangible,” says Tomas Vivijs, new media specialist with Hill & Knowlton Brussels. “Many of our clients are asking us how to deal with blogs. Our advice is to listen to the blogs first, i.e. know who, what and how they write about you, before engaging the Blogosphere by interacting on existing blogs or starting your own”
Vlaams Belang in the Blogosphere
The other parties and their main candidates, battling for voters were not able to attract as much buzz as the main pretenders. Candidates from Vlaams Belang, the second party in Flanders, barely made a ripple in the sea of blogs. This might lead us to believe that similar to classic media, there is some sort of media silence around the far right party in the Blogosphere."