Social media has become an integral part of our lives. We use it communicate, share and even make decisions. It’s a powerful tool for individuals, businesses and politicians.
Social media can be a double-edged sword when it comes to politicians. It provides an amazing opportunity to connect with supporters and share information. It truly breaks down barriers! This isn’t always a good thing for the candidates. Traditionally, politicians have carefully curated their image. The breaking of those barriers means politicians may show a side of them they don’t want the public to see. Social media also provides a platform for their critics share their feelings and they don’t hold back. Donald Trump in particular seems to be in the news daily for his controversial Twitter activities.
How are our current lot of presidential hopefuls doing on the social media front? Is the number of followers on social media an indicator of how they are doing in the polls? I examined the contenders that are still in the race at the time of this writing.
Before I get into the raw numbers, here are a few things that surprised me while I was doing this research:
- Nearly all the candidates, with the exception of Gary Johnson and Vernin Supreme, are using Snapchat. Definitely a great way to court the youth vote!
- Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders don’t have LinkedIn accounts, at least none that I could find.
- Many of the candidates that DID have a LinkedIn account didn’t link to them from their campaign site. Is it because people might be hesitant to follow them with their professional accounts?
Hillary Clinton has HUGE social reach, which isn’t surprising. The #ImWithHer hashtag caught on quickly early on in the campaign. She’s appealing to young voters by integrating Instagram and Snapchat into her campaign, though I did have to search for her Snapchat account. It’s not mentioned on her campaign site and neither is her LinkedIn profile. She is tagged as an Influencer and is making regular contributions to LinkedIn Pulse, which appear to be very popular.
- Snapchat (not linked from campaign page)
- LinkedIn (influencer, not linked on campaign page)
If social media numbers accurately reflect election outcomes Donald Trump would easily trounce Ted Cruz in the primary! Ted Cruz is using a number of hashtags with his campaign. #TrusTed and #CruzCrew to name just a couple. According to Hashtagify, niether of these is as popular as other candidates hashtags.
My initial thought was that Gary Johnson, a Libertarian candidate, may have stretched his social reach a bit too thin by trying to be everywhere. However, he appears to be active on all social accounts linked from his website, so he is doing it right, even if his numbers aren’t as impressive as his fellow candidates. His LinkedIn presence could stand some improvement though. He’s not tagged as an Influencer on LinkedIn. Since he just has a regular account, I can’t view the exact number of connections he has. He also hasn’t published anything on LinkedIn Pulse in over a year.
John Kasich’s social media showing seems to be in line with his numbers in the recent primaries. Nowhere near his Republican competitors. He could probably use a clever hashtag!
Much like the polls and primaries we have seen, Bernie sanders and Hillary Clinton have close numbers on social. However, Bernie Sanders has an edge in that his supporters are doing a lot of the “heavy lifting” when it comes to his social presence. As any social media user can attest, his supporters flood Facebook and Twitter feeds with pro-Bernie articles and memes. Many of them are even creating their own Bernie content! The #FeeltheBern hashtag has a slightly higher popularity rating than Hillary Clinton’s #ImwithHer hashtag according to Hashtagify.
The boot-wearing, pony-promising candidate makes a small, but still impressive showing on social media. there’s something to be said for humor!
With his tweets constantly making the news, it’s really no surprise that Donald Trump is “winning” at Twitter. He has over a million more followers than Hillary Clinton. He also wins at Facebook, with over 3 million more likes than Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Are these actual fans or are people following Donald Trump purely for entertainment purposes? In looking at his interactions on social, he appears to have as many critics as he does supporters, but then again he is winning many states in the GOP Primary.
Perhaps the most curious aspect of his social presence is the seeming lack of a LinkedIn profile. Surely, America’s most famous Business Man would have one, but I couldn’t find it. Please contact me if you find a profile associated with Donald Trump because I am truly floored that he doesn’t have one.
Social and Real Life
It’s interesting that the social media numbers seem to be somewhat in line with the popularity of the candidates at the time of this writing. We have to keep in mind that political junkies such as myself, will follow social accounts of politicians that they don’t support in order to stay informed. A like or a follow isn’t necessarily an endorsement.
How important do you think a solid social media following is to political hopefuls? Is there a particular candidate that utilizes social media better than the others? Leave a comment and let us know!
*Numbers as of April, 26th, 2016