How Clinton is turning the social media tide against Trump
Social media has been Donald Trump’s stomping ground since he was first nominated as the Republican candidate for the election.
With a loyal, vocal band of social media followers and clear, simple messages Trump has dominated the social media conversation.
But over recent weeks - particularly since the start of the debates - the scales have begun to even out in Clinton's favor.
We’ve been tracking all the social media data surrounding the 2016 US election using our live social media election tracker and a closer look at the numbers shows that Clinton is actually outperforming her Republican rival in several key areas.
*Note: As the 2016 election has now been completed our election tracker is no longer live. Please visit our live social media insights page to discover more real-time data about global brands/industries and other live events.
Trump is center of attention but Clinton’s driving the discussion
There is little doubt that Trump is still dominating the overall conversation when it comes to social media. He is mentioned around 4 times more than Clinton, not only during debates but day to day. Overall, hashtags in support of Trump are used more than hashtags in support of Clinton and he is more active on social networks.
But when it comes to the actual nature of these discussions – particularly during the last two debates – Clinton has had much more success.
Consider the main topics of social media conversation from the last two debates:
In both case, the main topics are things that Trump most likely wants the public to forget: his tax returns and his comments about women.
Trump has the volume but Clinton getting more bang for her buck
On their official social media accounts, Trump and Clinton have very different strategies. Trump talks to his audience like he’s having a conversation with them with few links or pictures to distract from his words. By and large, this has helped him during the campaign with Trump’s Twitter usage in particular capturing the attention of many.
Wow, @CNN got caught fixing their "focus group" in order to make Crooked Hillary look better. Really pathetic and totally dishonest!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2016
Clinton by contrast uses social media in a more “traditional” way, crafting campaign sound bites, adding links and inserting images.
We counted all the times Donald Trump lied in last night’s debate so you didn’t have to. https://t.co/kHkzkVkfmv— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 11, 2016
And while Trump is still getting more engagement overall on most social media channels, looking at interactions on a per post basis, Clinton more than holds her own.
Although Trump has a big lead on Facebook, by this measure Clinton is actually outperforming Trump on Twitter and Instagram.
Trump has the social media masses but Clinton dominates “Super Influencers”
As shown earlier, as a general rule, Trump receives more support on social media than Clinton, despite spikes in Clinton’s favour during debates. The one area where this isn’t the case is among what we call “super influencers”.
These are people on Twitter and with over 1 million followers and although such people don’t tweet often, their posts have substantial impact. Clinton’s 10 most influential advocates have only tweeted their support for her 69 times but overall their posts have generated over 350,000 retweets and likes. By contrast, Trump's top 10 advocates have only managed to generate around 42k interactions in total.
Clinton top supporters include celebrities like Ariana Grande and Katy Perry, and with both having social audiences that dwarf either Trump or Clinton, the impact of these super influencers should not be underestimated.
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) September 27, 2016
Examples of tweets from the super influencers of Clinton and Trump
So what does it all mean?
Determining the preferences or attitudes of the voting public from social media data is always going to be imperfect. But the data does give us a few points to consider going forward that may help us determine which way the tide is turning.
1) Can Clinton continue to direct the discussion?
There’s a good chance that Clinton will never be able to overcome the general social media dominance of Trump. His supporters are just too active and too vocal. But as we’ve seen from the last two debates, if Clinton can continue to keep the focus on topics unfavorable to Trump that should be a good sign for Clinton. If Trump can turn the conversation towards for example, Clinton’s emails, this could be a good sign for Trump.
2) Can Trump keep up the impact of his own social media posts?
Thus far, although Clinton is getting more engagement on each of her social media posts, overall Trump’s level of activity is ensuring that his accounts remain a dominant force. But if Clinton can be a little more active she may be able to overturn Trump’s advantage in this area as she is already getting higher levels of interactions on her posts. By contrast, if Trump can ramp up his activity further, he may be able to drown out Clinton on the social airwaves.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2016
Top tweets for Trump and Clinton's between Sep. 12 and Oct. 11
3) Can Trump attract more “super influencers”?
This is the area where Clinton currently has a clear lead with a legion of actors, athletes and other media celebrities at her beck and call. Perhaps Trump can play on this by saying that Clinton is just a friend to elites but with Clinton’s top supporters coming from a variety of backgrounds, this may not hold water. If Trump can encourage a few more super influencers to vocalize their support for him that should be a good sign for his campaign.
As the campaign enters its last month, the level of discussion on social networks, blogs and forums will only rise. Social media is becoming a key battelground for the candidates and we can surely expect more fireworks as November 8th draws near.