Social media is playing a transformative role in this presidential election. Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton are heavily utilizing social media platforms to connect with voters.
And it’s working.
Millions of people follow Trump and Clinton on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the numbers are growing every day. Via these platforms, people are tuning in to see what the candidates have to say, whether Clinton and Trump’s platforms align with their views. People are invested in the Clinton and Trump brands.
After rising to the top of the political social sphere, it’s safe to say Trump and Clinton can teach us a few things about using social media to boost our own personal branding.
Here are five social media takeaways from Clinton and Trump’s social media campaigning.
1. Be Authentic With Your Audience
Social media provides a platform to showcase your authentic self (e.g. brand). Love him or hate him, it’s no secret Trump is a master of authenticity on social. In fact, the team of Hootsuite gave Trump a social media score of 81.
With every tweet (and Facebook post), you know that Trump was the one who did it, not an intern or staff member lurking behind a screen or smartphone. It’s always the real deal, straight from Trump’s fingertips.
It’s not uncommon for Trump to start firing off unfiltered real-time tweets, especially if provoked on his own turf. Here, Clinton went after Trump, and he didn’t let the ball drop, firing back a cutting tweet shortly thereafter.
Make sure your audience can tell it’s really you behind the brand, not some bot or intern doing all the talking. In turn, you’ll gain their trust.
2. Choose The Right Platform
He dominates his rivals by using tweets to hammer away at his critics. Trump doesn’t mince words, and Twitter allows him to deliver his “stingers” in less than 140 characters.
For an audience with a short attention span, this is perfect. They don’t have to parse through long essays to get the message. They can scan Twitter and see that Trump is denouncing terrorists. Message quickly delivered (and often retweeted).
Clinton also does well on Twitter (more than 7 million followers); however, she’s not as impulsive as Trump. Her posts are calculated, even when they appear not to be.
While the Chapter 11 tweet may seem spur of the moment, it’s highly likely she’s had that in her back pocket just waiting for the prime opportunity to tweet. Clinton is old school, but she’s adapting and making Twitter work for her. After all, this type of post wouldn’t fly on any other platform (e.g. LinkedIn).
3. Engage With Your Followers
Clinton and Trump frequently engage with their audiences on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. By using these tools, they’re building a real-time connection with voters. You can do the same with your audience, creating a connection to your brand.
For instance, Clinton uses Facebook chat to discuss topical subjects such as the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Reporters and followers like having the option to engage one-on-one with Clinton, even if it isn’t face-to-face.
Followers also appreciate seeing the human side of politicians. From time to time Trump also tweets non-political stuff, too, like congratulating the Penguins on their Stanley Cup win.
Penguins fans who are Trump supporters appreciate the shout out, while Trumping is building another layer of engagement.
Interestingly enough though, Trump steers clear of LinkedIn. Normally that would be odd, given his business background. But considering his political strategy is based on the spontaneity of social media, it makes sense.
Don’t feel you need to use every social platform out there to engage with your audience. Only use the ones that make sense. In Clinton’s case, she does use LinkedIn because her target audience uses it. And LinkedIn allows her to connect with voters on a deeper level, discussing issues in-depth.
Depending on the level of engagement you want to achieve, consider using Twitter, Snapchat, and even Facebook for more superficial, quick interaction. And then for a deeper introspective, steer followers to LinkedIn and/or your website where they can dig into meatier content.
4. Tap Into What’s Trending
Depending on its relevancy, don’t be afraid to use social media to tap into what’s relevant. If there’s a huge snowstorm approaching, and you’re a home goods company, tweet a link to your blog post on “5 Ways to Winterize Your Home.”
Clinton and Trump are experts at tapping into what’s trending, no matter if it’s good news or bad. As social media exploded with support following the tragic Orlando Shootings, naturally Trump and Clinton weighed in on social.
Food for thought: Trump’s supportive message to gay Americans on June 14 resulted in 40,000 “likes” and almost 4,000 shares in just 38 minutes.
5. Control Your Image
Social media is a great way to cultivate your brand’s image. In Clinton’s various accounts, you’ll notice she has variations of the same running bio:
- LinkedIn: ”Wife, mother, grandmother, women and kids advocate, FLOTUS, FLOAR, Senator, Secretary of State, dog person, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, 2016 presidential candidate.”
- Facebook: “Wife, mom, grandma, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, 2016 presidential candidate.”
- Twitter: “Wife, mom, grandma, women + kids advocate, FLOTUS, Senator, SecState, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, 2016 presidential candidate. Tweets from Hillary signed - H.”
In contrast, Trump keeps his brief and practical:
- Facebook: “This is the official Facebook page for Donald J. Trump.”
- Twitter: “#MakeAmericaGreatAgain #Trump2016.”
Ultimately, your brand bio can be anything you want it to be so long as it’s consistent. To maintain your image, be sure to address any issues and do damage control. Via social, Trump frequently calls out anything he deems inaccurate.
And Clinton does the same. In fact, a pro-Clinton PAC run by Media Matters founder David Brock pledged $1 million to push back against users spreading incorrect information on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram.
Remember, your brand is your baby. Social media is a fickle beast, so stay on top of your online reputation. It would be ashame to invest time, energy, and money only to be skewered by a tweet saying you’re the Zodiac Killer (ahem Ted Cruz).