A Lesson in Social Media From the Future POTUS

January 30, 2016by hiebing2021

In 2008, Barack Obama won the presidential election with nearly 70% of the vote among Americans under age 25, a notoriously difficult demographic to reach, especially when it comes to politics. This success is partially attributed to Obama’s innovative use of social media at the time. One of his key strategists was Chris Hughes, a 24-year-old Facebook cofounder, who helped Obama develop a community of online supporters larger than ever before seen. It’s no surprise that the 2008 election came to be known as the “Facebook election.”

Eight years later, the 2016 presidential candidates are working to reach young voters through social media beyond just Facebook. Thanks to Facebook’s algorithm, voices are getting lost in the feed. So the 2016 hopefuls have expanded their digital campaigns to encompass new platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and Pinterest.

If we view the presidential candidates as brands, there’s a lot to learn from their campaigns. Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have smoothly and effectively jumped on the latest social trends, all while keeping in mind the target and voice of their personal brands.

Hillary Clinton

Beyond a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter, Hillary’s social media strategy encompasses niche networks including Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope. Hillary uses these platforms to appeal to women voters, as well as to soften her image after criticism that she comes off as too severe. Hillary and her team have posted a Snapchat of a pup in a (campaign) cup, pinned gift ideas for her granddaughter on Pinterest and Instagrammed old family photos, all tactics to establish her authenticity and humanize her to voters.

The Bottom Line: If you want your brand to be down-to-earth and relatable, appeal to your fans’ interests. Use social to show how you’re just like them.

Donald Trump

Trump has amassed more followers than any other candidate on social media by skillfully sticking to his “entertainer” tactic, appealing to millennials through shock and awe statements, humorous remarks and solid confidence. Trump uses popular platforms among millennials, including Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope. These platforms, known for live and replayable video, are well-suited to Trump’s communications strategy, as he is prone to post pithy videos commenting on his competitors’ flaws.

The Bottom Line: If you want your brand be the center of attention, get people talking by going big. Taking a risk can result in high entertainment value and shareability.

Bernie Sanders

At a time when the general public is clamoring for authenticity, Bernie has secured supporters largely through his sheer earnestness and genuine manner. While Bernie uses the same new social media platforms as other candidates, he doesn’t tend to stray from the issues. Bernie uses his Instagram and Tumblr accounts to post simple photos with quotes and statistics to boil down complex issues for voters. He and his team jumped on the fan-created community and hashtag #HumansforBernie to share photos of real people along with quotes of their reasons for supporting him.

The Bottom Line: If you want your brand to be authentic, let the facts speak for themselves. If your product lives up to its description, your fans will do much of the promoting. After all, user-generated content is the most genuine content your brand can leverage.

Despite the fact that as “brands” the presidential candidates have been around for a relatively short amount of time, they’ve all forged ahead into new territory on social media, building communities on Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and Pinterest. Time will tell as to how their social engagement will feed and foster campaign messaging, fan advocacy and election results.

We’ll be watching.

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