Trump vs. Clinton: Who Wins the Social Media Battle?
Donald Trump, the man we are learning to loathe for his lies and hate-filled messaging has proven his mastery social media to generate press. His infamous Twitter tirades have played a key role in generating more than $3B in free media exposure, and of course, they keep his core audience engaged and enraged.
Not surprisingly, Trump’s content is consistent in tone and approach
He attacks others and their failures. He enables his base—often the disenfranchised—by empowering them to blame the government for their problems rather than taking responsibility for their troubles. He may allude to what he, as president, will bring to the office, but there is never any platform. Let’s face it—he’s interested in winning—not in the job of President.
Donald Trump’s style is simple, emotional and unsubstantiated. His ability to engage and rally supporters has significantly helped him throughout the campaign, and it will be remembered for its mastery of social media in drumming up press. Choosing Twitter as the platform of choice was deliberate–it’s a favorite of journalists, PR reps, campaign operatives and political junkies.
Hillary Clinton, a seasoned political veteran who immerses herself in policy
Hillary leverages the data-driven marketing capabilities of social media platforms; she wants to understand the metrics of her reach. Clinton’s Twitter approach is based on short, direct sentences that her audience finds engaging. Her social media campaign was more traditional and included paid Facebook ads that took advantage of the large audience and precision targeting capabilities to reach donors and voters and increase her email subscriber list.
When the Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, was reintroduced during the first presidential debate at the end of September, it exploded and became a social media talking point. Another important strategy for Clinton has been using social media to tell a story—many of these are little case studies or human interest stories that reach people on a very human and emotional level. Clinton been extremely successful sharing compelling stories via YouTube.
Trump’s support remained stable, but stable isn’t where you want to be
A significant difference between the Clinton and Trump social media presences is their support over the course of the campaign. Trump had the larger social media presence, but his trend remained stable. Anyone who works in social media knows that stable is not where you want to be. Clinton’s social presence, on the other hand, trended up and grew over time, and social engagement spiked in response to major campaign events like debates or breaking scandals.
No correlation between social media and winning
Keep in mind that social media, no matter how good it is, doesn’t necessarily correlate with success. Rather, social campaigns are worthwhile when they are able to drive desired action from the audience.
A lesson to be learned from Trump and his campaign
Trump broke all the rules. He kept the race tight without adhering to any of the conventional wisdom about how a campaign is supposed to be run. He exploited PR to transmit his message to a large, global audience. Regardless of how we might feel about the prospect of Donald Trump as President of the United States, he owned the news media in a way that we have never seen before. Many of us hope we never see anything like this again in our lifetimes.