How Donald Trump Used Social Media to Become the 45th President of the U.S.
Twitter: 24 million followers
Facebook: 20.4 million followers
Instagram: 5.6 million followers
That’s the social media follower count for Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States of America, and his social media strategy was a key component of his victory.
Yes, that is how important social media is today. Even a Presidential election leverages the power and reach of social media to get results. If the President understands the competitive advantage gained by creating an active and engaging following, don’t you think your business should become social media experts? The answer is YES!
Now, Trump stopped running his social media just before the actual election, but he was back in control of them after winning. Trump claimed he was going to dial back his usage of Twitter and Facebook when he became president, saying, “I’m going to be very restrained, if I use it at all,” but we know that hasn’t been the case at all. He has created such a fuss over Tweets and posts made that take jabs at people that don’t see eye-to-eye with his views or style.
There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Trump will continue to use social media to get his message out there, the same, if not more than he used it in the past. He understands that his stage is much bigger using social media, and can get to the younger demographic almost instantly.
Remember years ago what would need to take place if the President wanted to make an announcement to the world? They would broadcast it over the radio or interrupt TV and broadcast into every household that had their television turned on.
Well, social media has a much more powerful reach than any other media channel. The entire world is glued to their phones around the clock. If we are awake and breathing, then there is a smart phone in hand or within reach at all times. Someone like Trump can grab his phone, take 10 seconds to compose a Tweet and instantly have millions of people see it and share it. His message is amplified so much because of the power of social media.
Let’s look at some of the ways Trump used the power of social media to win this past U.S. Presidential election.
Donald Trump Understood the Power of Social Media Before Running for President
Donald Trump has multiple successful businesses. He built a billion dollar empire, so he knew social media was powerful leverage long before deciding to enter into politics. He was part of the ultra successful TV show Celebrity Apprentice, and he would get very vocal on social media during the broadcasts.
He was a businessman, but also a performer. He knew that social media was the one place he could get instant reactions. Even now, he uses it to get his name out there. Trump can Tweet, and within minutes every major media outlet is talking about him. He used this strategy to keep his name out there. You couldn’t open a website or watch the news on TV without seeing a Donald Trump story.
Arnold Schwarzenegger took over the hosting duties for Celebrity Apprentice, and the ratings were not the best. In fact, they were the lowest they have been, so Trump immediately took to social media to get in a jab. Did he really care about the show? Well, yes, to a degree, but he knew for a fact that a simple Tweet would get everyone talking about him. He played the game perfectly during the election to make sure his name was in front of every possible voter.
Trump Was Much Better at Social Media Than Hillary Clinton Was
Trump’s social media crew consistently outperformed Clinton’s team throughout the entire presidential campaign, leading up to the election. Just do a Google search if you really want to read case studies, but there were numerous reports issued by social media software trying to get some free press simply because of the topic.
Was Trump better in the debates than Hillary was? She was much more polished, but he crushed her when it came to social media, and that is where all of the attention is. Hillary could have released double the amount of TV campaign commercials, and it still wouldn’t matter. People watch Netflix and Hulu and fast forward commercials. But they are glued to social media, and Trump got his message out throughout his own personal social media and also received nonstop press from every major media outlet imaginable.
Being “Real” Works. Being a “Robot” Doesn’t.
One of Hillary Clinton’s downfalls was the fact that she was a robot. She never let her true personality shine, and do you know why? Because she is a polished politician. She is programmed to always say the right things, regardless of how she really feels.
Trump isn’t a politician. He never was and he is honestly the farthest thing from a politician there could be. He is a businessman first and foremost, and that was a huge advantage. He knew that perfectly timed social media posts would grab national attention and keep the American public talking.
Clinton had a social media presence but it was dry and boring, and certainly handled by a staffer, and not herself. Trump was in control of his social media at all times. He had advisors and consultants of course, but if he wanted to post something on social he was going to do it from the phone in his pocket. He wasn’t passing a message onto a staffer and having them take his words to create a politically correct version. Look at his Tweets. They are full of grammatical errors and misspellings. He is always real. There is no political correctness BS with him, and the public ate it up, constantly wanting more.
You Must be Willing to Defend Your Opinions
Clinton never had to defend her words on social media because everything she posted was politically correct and written by experts. It was designed to be non-confrontational on purpose. Trump, on the other hand didn’t give a flying F*ck about who approved and disapproved of his public opinions on social media.
He was quick to bark back, defending what he said. He even used social media as a platform to connect with his audience after the debates. He would crush his competition and then emphasize the points of his that received a lot of applause from his backers. Those same backers would then Re-Tweet and share his posts, which helped further his reach without any extra work.
It was impossible to open your social media accounts and scroll for 30 seconds without seeing a Donald Trump related post. He commanded that much attention on social media. If you think this election was heavily social favored, wait until the next one. After seeing how Trump leveraged it to win, it’s going to change the way further campaigns are run. He is a pioneer.
You Simply Can’t Beat Large Followings
Trump had several million more followers than Hillary, and that proved to be a huge advantage, but that shouldn’t shock you. Take two local flower shops for instance. If one has 50,000 social media followers and the other has 500, who is going to generate more revenue?
Neither, if they aren’t going to put the effort in, but if the shop with 50,000 followers learns how to properly leverage social media to attract attention and get their followers to share and engage with their content, then it’s going to help put their business in front of a much larger audience.
Trump’s massive following was key, but if he didn’t know how to get them to engage it wouldn’t have been as effective. So, while a large following essentially can’t be beat, you must know how to take full advantage of that audience to see results.
Also, large followings must participate. This is why buying fake followers does nothing. If anything, it turns people off. Imagine if Trump had millions of followers but his posts only received a few engagements? Don’t buy a fake social presence.
Put the work in to build it up organically and then take advantage of it. If Trump can win an election by using social media, don’t you think you can increase your revenue using it? It’s very powerful and gives you access to unlimited growth potential.
The Media (and Public) Can’t Resist Controversy
Turn on the news and what do you see?
Controversy. Disasters. Drama.
Do you ever see a news segment with back to back feel-good stories about good deeds? Nope, because the media feeds off negativity. People eat it up and Trump knew this from day one.
When the debates first started, he was going to war with the other candidates. He would verbally abuse them and treat them with zero respect. He would also discuss outrageous plans; ones he isn’t even going to implement now that he is President.
Trump played the whole “build a wall” angle and “eliminate Obamacare” angle because he knew it would fire up his core supporters and also get the media to give him the majority of the coverage. Think about it: there is only so much airtime and space, both online and in print. The boring candidates receives little to no coverage, no matter what they discussed. Trump sucked up all their attention because he would fire off controversial social media posts both pre and post debate.
Even when there were several candidates technically still in the race, it was a Clinton vs. Trump race, because nobody wanted to cover the other hopefuls. Go ahead and look at Trump’s Twitter feed right now and you will understand how powerful his 140-characters are.
Social Media Contributes to Online Branding
Overall, online interest in candidate Trump was three times higher than Clinton, according to Google trends analysis. Trump was the most Googled candidate, and also most mentioned on Twitter and Facebook.
Trump is a great example of how social media plays an important role in your online marketing. When you do it right, all of the social engagement you receive can help your SEO, which then helps your branding. The more signals that Google receives that show them you exist, the higher you are going to rank.
While links are always going to be the number one goal for solid SERP positions, things like social signals and knowledge graph data definitely plays a role.
Trump already had a name and brand before the election, but he knows what attributed to his popularity, and that was social media. So, he went all-in and rode the social media wave to a victory. He sure made a lot of enemies and pissed a lot of people off, but he also fed the supporters. He knew what they wanted to hear and he wasn’t afraid to say it.
Trump’s businesses were always great at branding. They are all considered to be billion dollar successes, even when they are in financial trouble and bankrupt. His branding was so good that he never lost that billion dollar image. All of that contributed to his Presidential victory, with social media leading the way.
Don’t be Afraid to Re-Write the Rules
Did Obama win the last two elections because he was a social media wiz? Did he cause controversy and get the media talking because of Tweets and Facebook posts? Nope.
Trump was the first to use this approach and he didn’t just ease into it. He went 100 mph from the beginning and never slowed down until he won. Because he wasn’t a traditional politician, he wasn’t afraid to try something new. You need to have the same fearless approach when it comes to building your business.
If he didn’t use social media like he did, do you think he would have won. I highly doubt it. In fact, I think if he played the campaign like a traditional politician and everything that came out of his mouth was politically correct I believe he would have lost.
This post has nothing about political views. Love him or hate him you have to respect how he used social media to win the election. He did it better than his competition and got the outcome he wanted.
The same applies to local mom and pop shops or large Fortune 500 companies. You have to master social media and understand how your users interact with it; not what other demographics or prospects. There is so much data available that can help you further optimize your social media effort to really increase your business.
I have seen plenty of clients’ scale quickly once they mastered social media. You can never put all of your eggs in one basket, but social media is one piece of your marketing campaign that you must include. I can promise you that Trump would not have won the election without social media. It has that much impact on the world, so get accustomed to it and start using it to grow your own business.
Have any social media related questions? Not sure how to combine social with SEO to get ahead of your competition? Leave your questions in the comments section below and I will do my best to answer them all.
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