Donald Trump’s Social Ride to the White House

Garth Moore

If the genie wasn’t out of the bottle yet, this election proved that social media holds value for communications, audience building, and brand awareness.

It’s difficult to determine the direct role social media played in sending Donald Trump to the White House. Still, this election has proven that social media continues to play a significant role in this country’s political discourse. Election Day saw record-setting usage, with Twitter claiming that 40 million tweets were election-focused, up from 31 million in 2012. And Pew Internet Research reports that 20% of social media users say they’ve modified their stance on a social or political issue because of material they saw on social media. But, as social media denizens were forecasting a Clinton victory, the electorate had other ideas. As the night stretched on, Trump began winning state after state, often to the dismay and delight of many on social media. So, while social media influencers may be ubiquitous, they didn’t call this election.

From the outset of his campaign, Donald Trump made Twitter a cornerstone of his communications strategy. Before becoming Candidate Trump, he already had millions of followers on Twitter. As he rose in the polls, he continued to solidify his brand throughout the course of the campaign – he now boasts more than 13.6 million followers. His campaign garnered more than 13 million Facebook likes and 3 million Instagram followers, and Trump used Facebook Live whenever possible to inject himself into the news cycle.

And he continued doing all the right things on Twitter:

  • Keeping things short to leave character room
  • Staying within news cycles
  • Replying to tweets directly and publicly to build a dialogue
  • Providing news and updates

While both parties used social media well over the past few months, Trump’s Twitter account invoked his brand, his voice, and proved that Twitter accounts are very durable for posting multiple messages throughout the day. Where Clinton’s campaign seemed to deploy a lot of the same tactics from the Obama playbook focusing on a more traditional fundraising and organizing message, Trump’s brand was direct, clear-cutting, and often controversial. The Donald knew how to entice and excite, although we advise against the impulsive 3AM tweets and added vitriol for your campaign or business.

There is now a transfer of power, from Barack Obama to President-Elect Donald Trump. Along with that comes the password to the White House social media accounts. It will be interesting to watch the White House brand, which changed significantly under Obama, shift direction again under Trump. Trump will most likely retain his own brand and platforms, which is a good reminder to CEOs and company leaders: you can serve your company and your own brand simultaneously.

If the genie wasn’t out of the bottle yet, this election proved that social media holds value for communications, audience building, and brand awareness. Twitter possibly earned back some of its allure as the company heads into unknown waters. And there will be continued social media spikes like these as we move toward the Inauguration and a new Congress. We’re sure President Trump will continue to make social media interesting.

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