submit to reddit

By B.L. Ochman @whatsnext

As social media becomes the real-time battleground of the 2016 elections, candidates’ social media use has many lessons for business.

The NY Times called 2008 “The Year of the Political Blogger” But 2004 was the year that political bloggers first had an impact on the Presidential elections. That was the year that political bloggers were first being credentialed to cover the Democratic and Republican conventions

Billions Being Spent on Social Media

Today, social media, including live blogging from the Convention floors by bloggers and mainstream media of all persuasions, is the norm. In 2016, the election is unthinkable without running commentary on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram et al.

Businesses Have Much to Learn From Political Social Media Use

Businesses can learn a lot from the way political candidates use social media tools and tactics. Companies also should note that the campaigns are willing to spend lavishly to create impact.

As Social Times has noted, “If we are to believe the figures estimated by Borrell Associates, politicians will be allocating over 9 percent of media budget towards digital and social media — this comes to an estimated $1 billion.” And I think that estimate is very low.

Marketing Lessons From the Presidential Candidates

  • Don’t avoid controversy. It won’t go away if you ignore it. The Presidential candidates know controversy can sell ideas as well as products. Left alone, controversy can escalate. Best to acknowledge it, and move forward.
  • Monitor social media religiously Hillary and Trump can’t afford to miss a mention, a joke, a controversy, a challenge, a meme, or a compliment that appears about them in social media whether it’s in the middle of the night, or on a weekend. Neither can your businesses. Because online, 15 minutes can be like a dog year.
  • Don’t just tell people what you want them to hear. You’ve got to tell people what they want to know. Donald Trump is obnoxious and patently offensive as well as totally bananas, but he’s telling his fans what they want to know.
  • Business also has to tell people what they want to know. People want facts, but they also want to know how your product or services will make them feel and help them succeed. Candidates play to those wants and needs.

  • Have a sense of humor Unless you’re Trump. He’s humorless. But Hillary has a sense of humor, especially about herself these days. Humor sells. Amusing content is shared by friends and family. Don’t be afraid of humor.
  • Earned Media is worth infinitely more than paid media. Earned media comes from engaging content, provided consistently over time. Speak in a human voice and people will relate. It doesn’t matter whether they agree with you or not, especially if you believe Trump’s theory that “all publicity is good.”

Trumpolini Can’t Stop Tweeting

Donald Trump has no brain-to-fingers boundaries and has earned billions in media coverage with his bellicose and often irrational Tweets. The NY Times estimates that Trumpolini has earned $2 BILLION in free media!

He doesn’t care if he tells the truth or not, and he doesn’t care what you think of him.


His bombastic approach is to belittle, berate and try to beat up his rivals. His often bizarre accusations use the same third-grade level language for which he’s now famous.

He “appears haunted by multiple personality disorders,” conservative David Brooks wrote last week in the New York Times.

Nonetheless, “Trump is absolutely dominating social this election cycle and it’s not even close,” said Brandon Silverman, CrowdTangle chief executive.

“It’s a way to skip the media and go directly to his audience,” he said. Yet dominating the conversation doesn’t necessarily translate into votes.


Hillary Clinton Concentrates on Conversions to Action

Hillary Clinton is no slouch on social media either. Teddy Goff, who was Obama’s 2008 digital mastermind, is at the helm of Clinton’s efforts in this campaign. But, Goff told USA today, succeeding in 2016 is far more challenging.

Clinton is concentrating her content machine on converting her traffic into actions like voter registration and email list building. She’s tried sounding like a cool millennial, while stumping for the young vote that Trump doesn’t appear to care about.

As more Republicans and Democrats alike question Trump’s ability to govern, and wonder about his mental health, Hillary is apt to keep gaining those conversions she seeks.