political blog 1

Ever since the presidential election of 2008, social media opened the door to further narrowing the gap between powerful politicians and the average American citizen. Many candidates both presidential and congressional attempted to connect directly with American voters via online social networking sites. It has even been called the “Facebook election.” While a few candidates took a stab at it, Obama was the pacesetter in using to social media to connect with the public. Just like John F. Kennedy brought in the television presidency, Obama echoed his use of a new medium to forever change politics by leveraging The Web.

From using podcasts and electoral messaging to mobile devices to stealing the show on YouTube with his “Yes We Can” viral video clip, an effective digital campaign gave Obama solid electoral credibility in Middle America.

Jump to 2016, campaign-driven sharing over social networks is the norm. It’s not just about raising money. Voters have massively shifted toward the Internet for social interaction, political participation, and use it as a main source of news. No candidates today are missing out on that type of social media action. They’re rushing to establish an online presence and connect with voters on the ground. The question who is who doing it right?

The Good

  • CHILLary Clinton – Hillary Clinton is constantly finding way to relate to her followers or potential supporters (most of which are Millennials) on social media. Her first ever photo on Instagram was a rolling rack showcasing her affection for pantsuits along with the caption “Hard choices.” It was a clever nod to promote the name of her book without being pushy while also showing some humor to the contention of her pantsuits that been causing attention since forever. She uses trending hashtags like #tbt, takes selfies, and she has let social influencers like Katy Perry take over her account for a day. And also features user generated “H” logos on her Instagram to build a community, because who doesn’t love some scrambled eggs and bacon?

  • Unapologetic Trump – Donald Trump doesn’t care if you love him or despise him. He’s playing to a very select crowd of voters who believe in his message and who want to support him. As the most polarizing man of 2015, his political campaign has played out more like a page out of TMZ. But it works. There’s something about Trump’s tough-talking attitude that appeals to Republican primary voters in 2016. He’s not afraid of what anyone thinks about him, and it shows. In the same way, your brand doesn’t have to appeal to “everyone.” Know your target market and speak to their concerns in a relevant way.
  • Bernie Sanders: The Everyday Persona – While most politicians’ personalities and lifestyles can seem way out of reach for us “normal” folk, Bernie is always pushing the image that he’s one of us. As an advocate for the middle-class and working class, everything he says ties into this larger core message of challenging economic inequality. Despite his age, Bernie and his campaign team have already used social media in a brilliantly organic way. To keep younger Americans engaged from now until it’s time to vote, the campaign has built a large community to discuss the election on Reddit that has over 145,000 subscribers. This is powerful because influencers are explaining and promoting his policies to anyone who’s willing to listen. Plus, the “Grassroots for Sanders” campaign organized around the online message board has raised over $1 million for Bernie Sanders. For businesses, it means that their social media campaigns need to align with specific needs/pain points that can connect more easily with audiences.

The Bad

  • #NotMyAbuela – The Clinton campaign, hasty in its joy to spread the news of Mrs. Clinton’s expected second grandchild, hoped to use the moment to connect with Hispanic voters. The campaign shared a list, “7 Things Hillary Clinton Has in Common With Your Abuela,” using the Spanish word for “grandmother.” Her critics were not impressed. Soon, the hashtag #NotMyAbuela was circulating as a critique of what some saw as a tone-deaf move to pander to a powerful but marginalized bloc of voters.


  • In an effort to show that a majority of governors supported Ben Carson’s position on Syrian refugees, his campaign tweeted a map highlighting those governors’ states. However, the campaign’s cartographer got a little interpretive with the Northeast. The map misplaces several states, moving Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine further up, and giving Vermont and New York newly expansive beachfronts. The really ironic part? As the Washington Post pointed out, that week happened to be Geography Awareness Week.

The Ugly

  • Trump Tweet Insults – I know I just mentioned that Donald Trump’s “no holds barred” way of speaking is a good social media lesson of being consistent and authentic to your brand, but sometimes even the id of Mr. Trump, can go a step too far. A scroll through his Twitter account shows he’s a master of the manual retweet, often firing them off in rapid-fire succession. And that has often resulted in him getting burned, in which sometimes he blames a “young intern” for not reading or comprehending before retweeting. In the midst of daring to be different, Trump has also said some pretty unforgiving, harsh, and just plain disrespectful insults towards Muslims, Latinos, women…the list goes on. The lesson we can all learn here is simply to stay classy America, even when you want to be polarizing.