5 lessons we've learnt about social media from Donald Trump's election campaign

With a third of 18-29-year-olds naming social networking sites as their most helpful source for learning about the election, it’s no surprise that the US presidential candidates are using social media as an important part of their campaigns. One in particular who has used social media to gain significant traction for the race is Donald Trump.

Social media tirades, bold statements and offensive insults - could anything good actually come out of the Republican candidate’s social media use? Really?

I know what you’re thinking, but in fact, surprisingly, there’s quite a lot we can learn from Trump’s online social presence, that we can apply to our own channels.

1. What you put on the internet will come back to haunt you

Remember when Donald Trump claimed that ‘global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S manufacturing non-competitive’?

No? Well, it was four years ago.

donald-trump

Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton’s team did (or, more likely, they didn’t and just undertook a lengthy period of social stalking to uncover it – who can blame them?). Anyway. Yes, after reputing climate change on social media, Clinton asked Trump, and he denied ever doing so. Can you guess what happened next? Tens of thousands of Twitter users favourited, commented and retweeted his original tweet to highlight the contradiction. Of course they did.

And there it was: a post he wrote four years ago coming back to haunt him. A school boy error? No, not at all – even they know the importance of deleting certain online material!

2. You shouldn’t underestimate the power of 15-second Instagram clips

Sometimes, content in small doses is the best form of video advertising. And with Trump, this has rung true. With £2.9bn expected to be spent on television campaigns by US presidential candidates this year, it’s clear that advertising on the little screen has continued as be a key advertising platform for those aiming to become the USA’s head of state.

Nevertheless, it’s been reported that Trump has spent just 1% of what Jeb Bush (who? I hear you ask) spent on TV ads, and yet, Trump seems to be everywhere? How has he managed this? And seriously, who is Jeb?

By using Vimeo, YouTube and Instagram shorts, Trump has supplied newsrooms around the world with video content – without paying for anything. No TV crew. No fancy lighting. No editing; just a man with a phone filming a shouting man. It’s pretty ingenious actually. That’s how he’s managed to get TV coverage - without paying the big bucks.

3. You don’t have to be liked to have a big social media following

Ever wondered why some celebrities have so many followers? Like HOW has Piers Morgan gained over 5 million followers, and Simon Cowell has 12.7m? Like, what? Simon Cowell’s Twitter feed is full of him congratulating his protégés (seriously, check it out – even James Arthur – which says it all). How have they amassed such a following?

It’s simple: because they’re entertaining; they know celebrities; they have online spats; they know Kimmy K. Now, I’m not suggesting you insult A-listers or tweet your favourite Corrie star, but an entertaining Twitter feed is the key to more followers, not likeability.

His YouTube channel has almost 20 million views, FYI.

Ever wondered why some celebrities have so many followers? Like HOW has Piers Morgan gained over 5 million followers, and Simon Cowell has 12.7m? Like, what? Simon Cowell’s Twitter feed is full of him congratulating his protégés (seriously, check it out – even James Arthur – which says it all). How have they amassed such a following?

It’s simple: because they’re entertaining; they know celebrities; they have online spats; they know Kimmy K. Now, I’m not suggesting you insult A-listers or tweet your favourite Corrie star, but an entertaining Twitter feed is the key to more followers, not likeability.

Trump has over 12m Twitter followers. My point is made.

4. Amplification is a successful online strategy

You’ve probably heard and even acknowledged the benefits of recommendations and reviews. Sites like TripAdvisor are based on our need to go with what other people think. Perhaps it’s a fear of the unknown that has made us so reliant on choosing a company, a brand or a product that has been recommended to us: somehow, it appears so much more trustworthy?

It’s this idea - of recommendations - that Trump has adopted on his social media channels. He has amplified the voices of his audience by retweeting ‘ordinary people’ that just happen to think the same as him. By magnifying their voices, he’s somewhat distancing himself - all the while reinforcing his beliefs.

To build on this idea, as a brand you’ll probably have more success retweeting a good customer recommendation about fast delivery than tweeting ‘we provide fast delivery’. It comes with more authority. It’ll work even better if it’s from someone your target audience can relate to.

In May, 78% of Trump’s retweets were from members of the public.

5. Sometimes, you have to adapt

Trump, at a campaign stop in South Carolina, admitted that his ‘Twitter tirades’ will have to end if he’s elected in November. This outlines a key message, that sometimes, your content strategy may have to adapt to foreseeable changes. It’s as simple as that. You need to stay current, while adjusting to brand and industry changes.

Although we can’t predict the outcome of the U.S election, one thing’s for certain; we’ve learnt a few lessons from Trumps’ social media use – but he (probably) hasn’t.

And the tirades continue.

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