US Election: How Trump and Clinton embraced Social Media in the race to the White House
After a year of campaigning, Americans finally took to the polling station this week to vote. What came as a shock to many was also a cause of celebration for others, as Donald Trump sealed an unlikely victory to become the 45th President of America.
Although the election may now be over, it’s certainly one we won’t be forgetting any time soon. It’s been one of the most aggressive and expensive elections to date, with the two hopefuls having reportedly spent over $6.5 billion on their campaigns combined. With spending on social media up by 600% compared to the last election, we’re taking a look back at how social media played an integral part of each candidate’s campaigns.
Twitter was centre stage in this election, and with Trump and Clinton having a combined following of over 20 million, this came as no surprise.
From Clinton’s pledge to cut college fees for families earning under $125,000, to Trump’s vow to ‘make America great again’, Twitter was awash with political promises from all sides, in a bid to secure more voters and build campaign momentum.
During live TV debates, Twitter would erupt into discussion. The October 9th debate alone generated 17 million tweets relating to the election, and in the last 6 months, the candidates achieved over 100 million interactions on Twitter, demonstrating online engagement around this election never seen before.
Most popular tweets from the candidates campaigns:
543,949 retweets and 700,708 likes.
121,030 retweets and 249,943 likes.
Over 150 million Americans use Facebook, which made it another valuable platform for the presidential hopefuls. Trump and Clinton made their presence on Facebook clear with daily posts. Hillary made a particular effort to provide her 7.7 million followers with video content, whereas Trump continued to criticise Washington and current laws with the hashtag #draintheswamp.
However the social media site came under scrutiny for its role in this election, with some worrying Facebook was interfering by censoring what people see, in order to persuade them to vote a certain way. But it’s not all bad news, reports suggest that the websites reminder to vote increased online registration significantly.
Most popular posts from the candidates campaigns:
263,290 likes and 71,795 shares.
325,466 likes and 13,458 shares.
Instagram was another key platform for the candidates, especially when it came to gaining support among first-time voters. With both candidates having over 3 million followers each, posts were frequent and delivered powerful messages. On Instagram, Hillary stood by her hashtag #strongertogether, posting a series of photos with high profile supporters, including President Obama and Pharrell Williams. In contrast, Trump posted a series of rally photos and stats from the election so far, to drive support.
Most popular posts from the candidtaes campaigns:
Although YouTube played a lower profile than Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in this election, both candidates made an effort to boost their profiles with video content. Clinton had 135,000 subscribers and made sure she kept her YouTube updated daily with a variety of videos; including speeches and interviews with supporters. Trump was close behind, with 99,982 subscribers; however, he wasn’t quite as active. Despite this, his campaign still made sure videos were posted weekly in order to keep up with his rival.
Most popular videos from the candidates campaigns:
Hillary Clinton- 3.2 million views.
Donald Trump- 4 million views.
As the dust begins to settle and the world prepares for Trump to replace Obama, it will be interesting to see just how Trump’s use of social media changes. If there’s one thing we’re sure of though, Trump being Trump, he won’t be reducing his activity any time soon. After all, he can now add ‘President of the USA’ to his current title of the ‘King of social media’.
Trump has shown that despite being the underdog (albeit a very wealthy one!), his ability to master social media as a tool to engage with and inspire the disaffected and disconnected members of American society, is unrivalled amongst the current political elite.