The 2016 US election is nearly upon us and if it were based on social media alone, the race to the White House would have already been won.
Research indicates that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the main source for consumption of news stories with nearly two-thirds of Americans using social media as a platform for learning about politics. And one candidate, and there are no prizes for guessing who, is tapping into this with great effect.
Donald Trump is the self-proclaimed “king” of social media in the run-up to the election. A day doesn’t seem to pass without some sort of outburst from him. These are not exclusively aimed at his opponent either, with his Twitter rage being aimed at members of his own party in recent days. Trump, though, does seem to be able to always make the conversation about him and his sometimes outlandish policy suggestions, which you could argue is clever as it generates a great deal of media exposure for little or no cost where other campaign channels, such as television advertising slots, cost a vast amount.
On the other side of the fence, Hillary Clinton’s campaign on social media is seemingly much more composed whilst faced with an almost impossible task. The campaign team has to juggle going on the offensive with defending the stream for the opposition whilst broadcasting the “Clinton” message and keeping users’ online attention.
The Trump campaign seems to be, almost exclusively, set within Twitter. Given Trump’s apparent self-management of his account, you can imagine his social media team spend most of their time mopping up after him. On the other hand, the Clinton campaign seems much better focused with Facebook and Instagram pages posting regular content in both English and Spanish to reach the largest possible audience. They have also had success on less conventional platforms such as Quora, Pinterest, and Reddit.
Thankfully the election won’t be decided on tweeting power alone, but it will certainly shape peoples opinions on the candidates and voter turnout in certain key battlegrounds could be fuelled by it.