DURBAN - Social networking site Facebook hired a full-time pollster to monitor the approval ratings for their CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The pollster, Travis McGinn, quit the job six months later after becoming disenchanted with Facebook.
After Facebook was caught in the fallout of the US presidential election 2016 and they admitted that they accepted Russian-linked groups advertising, Zuckerberg went on a national listening tour.
McGinn would have the role of running a continuous poll operation dedicated to tracking the minute changes in the public's view of Zuckerberg.
According to the pollster, it was a very unusual role. He said "It was my job to do surveys and focus groups globally to understand why people like Mark Zuckerberg, whether they think they can trust him, and whether they’ve even heard of him. That’s especially important outside of the United States".
Some of the questions that McGinn tracked in relation to Zuckerberg's public perception included:
1. Do people like Mark’s speeches?
2. Do they like his interviews with the press?
3. Do people like his posts on Facebook?
The social networking site worked on developing a grasp of Zuckerberg's perception beyond the normal thumbs-up and thumbs-down metrics according to McGinn.
McGinn said that it was all about looking at different topics that the Facebook CEO was talking whether it was immigration or equal education and seeing what resonated with the various audiences in the US.
They also did similar research on the company's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. They had surveys that measured that awareness of the COO and whether people liked and trusted her. Also how they felt about her speeches, interviews and Facebook posts.
McGinn also surveyed people about whether they linked Sandberg with Facebook or any of her personal initiatives like Option B and Lean In.
Facebook also measured how the public image's between Zuckerberg and Sandberg compared. The results were then directly shared with both Zuckerberg and Sandberg as well as their teams including their communications teams and external public relations agencies.
According to a spokesperson, the tracking of how people view Zuckerberg began two years ago.
The company did not give any comment on McGinn's role but said that the polling was created to influence Facebook products or policies and no specific changes have been made according to a spokesperson.
McGinn left Facebook and started a new market research firm called Honest Data.
He previously worked for Google where he helped big advertisers improve their marketing campaigns across the company's family of products.
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