July 20th 2016:
Although it’s still four months to go it’s already interesting so see how both parties handle social media in their campaigns. It’s now 8 years ago Barack Obama won the elections from John McCain and run a successful web campaign using consumer marketing info to target potential voters based on their predicted interests. At that time social media were new and mostly used by 18- to 29-year-olds and Obama was able to create an online community which could be approached to help with his campaign which was very successful. For the first time online surveys, data analytics, tailored messaging and even an “online call tool” were used: very innovative at that time!
While 8 years ago social media were new and not used by all parties this has changed significant. The most important change is that social media are now used by all and older people are using social media more than young people. And with the Brexit referendum in the UK two weeks ago we saw that older people are more eager to vote and more conservative than young people (nothing new here). The internet has become a primary source of information for a lot of people about what is happening in the world. While 10 years ago you depended on newspapers, advertisements and debates to be informed about what happened during the campaign, now you search Facebook for a summary of the highlights of a debate. Being ‘Online’ you can influence the information you get by managing your own environment and content, when you don’t like it you can block someone or dislike a page managing your own online world.
Another big change is that the internet is now key in both the private and public space. All companies now use online marketing tools and big data techniques and governments are doing the same: a lot of public services are nowadays only available through the internet. This means all political parties now have access to all these tools and don’t have to call or visit the electorate any more but can directly communicate to their potential voters wherever they are online.
What’s will be interesting this campaign is see the difference between the campaign of Hillary Clinton, which probably will be based on the fundaments of the Obama campaign, and the one from Donald Trump who will use his experience from his enterprise background rather than the way the Republican establishment would like him to run his campaign. While Hillary has a big team of 700 people working on her campaign already for more than a year, Donald Trump has no interest in data analysis or a social media strategy and does not want to hire a big staff. Trump’s campaign headquarters at Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue is run by only a dozen paid staffers in the same building where Trump lives and runs his real estate empire. They run his campaign is entirely ad hoc and built on the concepts of mass communication. According to Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime political confidant “The only thing predictable about Donald Trump is that he’s entirely unpredictable.”
At this moment Donald Trump has 10,3 million followers on Twitter while Hillary Clinton with her big staff has only 7,9 million so you can’t say his campaign is not successful. While Hillary Clinton spends a lot of effort in making no mistakes and balancing here strategy to get her target audience satisfied, Donald Trump welcomes mistakes and sees them as opportunities to communicate to his audience and get his message across, he is a master in not answering questions. See for instance his statement at a press conference during the democratic convention where he asked Russia to hack the 30.000 lost emails of Hillary Clinton which got a lot of media attention. The day after he told the press this was a joke and he got away with this.
Another new aspect Trump has brought to the campaign is bringing his family in during the Republican Convention this week. We are getting to know his family during the convention and by this new “Glamour” campaign Trump is positioning his family for a reality soap which can run for as long as he is in the White House and until he appoints his successor (multiple candidates available in the family!). While his audience loves this you can see traditional media like CNN slowly changing their attitude towards Donald Trump, they know they need a good relationship with him and his entourage once he becomes president to get access to him.
It was interesting to see what was trending during the final speeches of both Trump and Clinton during the conventions; while Donald Trump was trending during his speech Hillary Clinton was not even in the top 10 trending for the US, number one was Katy Perry who was singing just before Hillary’s speech and at place 10 was a quote from Hillary ‘I believe in science’ referring to a quote from Donald who has his doubts. While everybody knows what Donald Trump stands for (“Make America great again”) I’m not sure what her strapline is, it changes all the time.
While Donald Trump is doing well on social media the traditional media like ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and MSNBC all are against him and pro Hillary Clinton. Following the news in these media you get the message Trump does not have a chance of winning although the polls show otherwise – after the democratic convention this party is always winning. I would classify the difference the Trump campaign as building up the Trump brand through social media while Hillary Clinton is using social media as a way to communicate with her own community and potential voters. Let’s see how both campaigns will further develop and which one will be the most successful but one thing is sure: the Trump campaign is already the most innovative!
September 13th 2016:
What afterwards probably will be the turning point in this campaign was the illness of Hillary Clinton which came out after her visit to the 9/11 memorial last Sunday. She knew this already for three days and did not communicate this to the outside world: probably her team was still discussing how to bring this news external. Trump did the only thing he could do: not tweet at all on this issue while Hillary’s team was still twittering on other campaign issues if nothing had happened…
September 26th 2016:
First debate between Clinton and Trump and both Hillary as Donald were winners according to the media depending on their background of course. The days after the debate the polls did not changed much although Hillary Clinton was ahead but with a small margin. Looking at the number of mentions on Twitter for the US Donald Trump was the winner with around 1,9 million mentions against 0,9 million for Hillary Clinton: Trump got most of the attention during the debate.
October 6th 2016:
Town hall meeting after the video with the female unfriendly quotes from Donald Trump was publisher two days before the debate. Donald Trump was able to talk about all the issues on his agenda during the debate while Hillary tried to focus on bringing her message across meanwhile being attacked by Trump. Again most tweets for Donald Trump, 2,1 million this time, while Hillary Clinton got only 0,1 million mentions. The first poll from CNN after the debate show that Hillary won with 57% and Trump lost with 34%, this trend was confirmed by other polls that also show a double digit loss for Trump. It looks like Hillary’s strategy is working better than the one from Trump but still one month to go…
Being mentioned on is not a good measure for being popular…