It’s now been over a week since the election, the dust has settled, and America is adjusting to the idea that Donald Trump will be their next President. Increasingly Trump’s use of social media has become a focus point.
Although the result appears shocking, the social data on the elections tells a very different story to broadcast media and the polling we traditionally rely on. In the final weeks, it became clear Trump had a more effective and coherent social strategy, ultimately eclipsing Clinton’s in key metrics that mattered: positive interactions, reach, and audience passion. You can disagree with his divisive rhetoric, but you can’t ignore his clever use of media that built him a highly engaged following and impressive reach stats across owned and earned digital channels.
Focusing on the week leading up to the election, we analysed the social media presence of both candidates. Looking at key Twitter metrics, Donald Trump had over 57% of total mentions and, contrary to popular belief, had higher positive sentiment and passion intensity than Hillary Clinton. What does this mean? More people were talking positively about Donald Trump on Twitter than Hillary Clinton, and they were doing it with more enthusiasm in the crucial final week before voting.
Trump’s use of social tech also had him at the forefront of owned media, showing a clear understanding of the power of live streams to engage voters in a unique and interesting way. In the minutes before the third and final presidential debate, he launched a Facebook live stream fronted by campaign surrogates that challenged traditional cable network coverage. It quickly grew to over 200,000 viewers, trailing only the ABC News debate feed on the platform. This was one of several live streams run by the campaign, tapping into a burgeoning media format that’s set to change how we view journalism in an ever-connected world.
By this point, Trump had amassed over 28 million Twitter followers, far ahead of Clinton who had only 21 million. How did he do it? Clear and consistent social messaging that seemed authentic and connected with voters. Trump’s victory is in large part due to his team’s mastery of digital media. His bombastic hands-on use of Twitter earned him highly engaged followers, playing into the idea his output was both raw and authentic. He wrote the tweets himself, a far cry from the Clinton team’s polished content that ultimately failed to connect in a meaningful way with disenfranchised voters. We can see this in social share numbers, with Trump clocking up 2.8 million shares in the final week of the campaign compared to Clinton’s 2.1 million.
Trump understood better than anyone else the quiet demographic shift when it comes to the Internet. Digital is no longer reserved for the wealthy, the highly educated or urban dwellers.
As our world becomes more connected and rural areas find their voice on social, politicians and brands need to adapt their strategies. Come 2020 we may be relying more on social data to predict political outcomes, rather than traditional polls that have failed us so spectacularly (twice) this year.
To quote Trump himself – “I think that social media has more power than the money they spent, and I think maybe to a certain extent, I proved that.”