Social Media Marketing Lessons from Election 2016

2016 Election - Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump

It’s over. It’s done. But the world, and Twitter, will never be the same.

The 2016 American Presidential Election is finally over, and while we’re all relieved – on both sides of the isle – when you’re ready, we invite you to look back at the campaigns. Don’t re-watch the debates, and don’t bother analyzing news coverage, there’s no use in that. Instead, take a walk down Social Media’s memory lane, and learn some lessons that you can apply to your own brand about how to capture the attention of Americans in every demographic.

Each candidate did their best to win the public’s affection, but there were three that stood out: Trump, Clinton, and Bernie. There is a veritable treasure trove of material, but everyone’s had their fill of speeches, so we’ll focus on the most important aspects only:

Donald Trump: Control and Lure

Love or hate him, you can’t deny it: Donald Trump is the kind of social media messaging. It can boggle the minds of some, and he’s been criticized as wild and reckless, Donald Trumpbut a good look at his accounts shows he’s anything but that.

Leading up to each appearance, usually early in the morning or late the night before, he would tweet something controversial, almost like clockwork. This gave him the ability to control what the interview would be about, but also increased his ratings, as more people tuned in to his appearances because they knew in advance it would be entertaining. As an added benefit, this behavior also assured media outlets that if they covered his campaign, their ratings would go up – resulting in over $300 million in free television coverage.

Trump’s campaign wasn’t just aided by social media – it was completely reliant on it. As a previous reality television star, we weren’t surprised when we saw how skillfully he commanded public attention, but his social media prowess went well beyond our expectations.

Hillary Clinton: Consistency and Quality Content

Hilary ClintonIt’s hard to believe it, but the first female major party candidate was actually the most conventional choice in this election. With a long history in politics and the public eye, Clinton’s campaign had the task of appealing to younger voters, who were being saturated with Trump content, without sacrificing her reputation as calm, level-headed, professional and qualified.

Clinton succeeded in this endeavor by churning out an incredible amount of high quality content with consistent messaging and tone, while embracing the new media that was being used to broadcast it – by injecting humor while retaining grace.

A great example of this can be found within her merchandise, available through several social media sites, which were served as images for many posts (as well as fundraising fodder). For example, when she was accused of playing the “woman card,” she had actual Woman Card manufactured.

Overall, Clinton’s presence on social media lifted her up and proclaimed her as the “high road” opponent, especially during the last leg of the race.

Bernie Sanders: Tap Into Cool

Bernie sanders is now the official answer for any brand that says they aren’t able to appeal to a younger audience, for any reason. The senior senator captured the hearts of millennials and evenBernie Sanders teenagers around the country by addressing the most popular conflicts in their lives.

The senator was the first to ever hold a virtual rally, which included a streaming speech online. What might be the point of this? To engage “slacktivists” directly, on their own turf. By targeting the
sector of his audience that was uncomfortable, unwilling or unable to attend live rallies, he was able to appeal to a much wider audience than would have been expected. This resulted in an incredible number of new volunteers for his campaign.

Social media is now, for better or for worse, a permanent part of the political process – and the best we can do with this new normal is to learn from it. Whether you’re looking to make a splash, retain a dignified image, or target a specific audience that has historically been difficult to engage, every brand can learn from these three extremely talented public figures.