Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Newest Election Battlefield

Tyler Prich

The Digital Election

The 2016 Presidential Election is taking the race to an different battlefield - social media. While 2012 saw the emergence of presidential candidates onto social media, it didn't have quite the impact it has had on this election. According to a Pew Research Center study, more people have been receiving their election news from social media than ever before - around 44% of adults got their news from social media, greater than local and national newspapers. Therefore, these candidates must battle it out in the digital realm or risk losing the support of young adults.

The battle is fought minute-by-minute in front of the whole world. When Donald Trump tweets something outrageous, the whole world stops to check and wait for Hillary's response. Even while writing this blog, The Hillary Clinton account tweeted nine times reacting to and attacking Trump, following his visit to Mexico.

Utilizing the Newest Campaign Toolbox

Both candidates have very different approaches to utilizing social media. They now have access to a whole new range of tools to reach people- Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Periscope, the list goes on. While republican nominee Donald Trump tends to be sporadic with his social media posts, ranging from policy to personal threats, Hillary Clinton tends to approach it much more tactically. An quick look of her twitter will show that her team has very good handle on her brand and the campaign.

Image result for hillary clinton on phone
Clinton on her cell phone | Source:
Clinton's biography alone gives the impression of someone who understands social from a PR standpoint: "Wife, mom, grandma, women+kids advocate, FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, pantsuit afficonado, 2016 presidential candidate. Tweets from Hillary signed - H." It's concise, and makes use out of every character. It even acknowledges the fact that not all the tweets are from the nominee herself, but from her team. Clinton's tweets that have her signature tend to be more personal and have a more casual tone, but they are few and far between.

Hillary's account posts once or more per hour and often retweets content from outside sources, often about her policy. But a good portion of her content comes from controlled media from the Hillary campaign, which is a generally good strategy, as any social media professional will tell you. But as we've gotten closer to November, much of the content has shifted towards attacking her Republican opponent. This is to be expected in any presidential race, let alone one so heated. Hillary's timeline has become riddled with Trump attack ads, almost to the point that you have to sift through the clutter to read anything about the issues.

Attack, attack, attack

What could've been a warm-hearted medium to discuss issues, turned into a veritable flame war between two teams of tactical campaign experts who seek to constantly discredit the other. Social media has become the candidates platform of choice to make the other seem unfit for the job. Both sides must be ready to respond to news and jump on the opposition as fast as possible. Is this attack-first mentality the optimal strategy for Hillary? Maybe, maybe not. We know Trump will not hold back, his candidness and attack-first attitude on social makes him very popular on the internet. Hillary may just be a victim of the circumstances.

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