Who won the debate? Social media

This year’s primary race has gained some serious attention and it’s showing in the polls. Many primaries are experiencing record voter turnouts, especially young voters. It’s no surprise, therefore, that social media is playing an extremely pivotal role in this year’s election.

Regardless of our opinions about candidates, as practicing PR professionals, it’s our job to be able to observe social media and its trends and uses in an objective and unbiased manner. Bearing this in mind it’s easy to say that each candidate is using social media to their advantage.

Here are three ways that the 2016 primary candidates are utilizing social media for the purpose of their campaign.

  1. Live Tweeting

According to Fortune Magazine, the 2008 election was coined the “Facebook election”. If that’s the case, than 2016 is certainly the “Twitter election”. Candidates are flocking to twitter like never before and they’re doing some pretty interesting things with it. Live tweeting is nothing new, however, it is new to politicians. The master of live tweeting, Bernie Sanders, has managed to steal the spotlight in almost every Republican debate. Social media is the content you control and, in a brilliant PR move, Bernie has perfected the art of getting people to talk about him when he isn’t even being mentioned or taking part.

  1. Self Management

For this next one, the prime examples are Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Two completely opposite candidates in terms of ideals, however, their self-run style of social media is extremely similar. Traditionally, celebrity or politician accounts were never run by the person named in the account, however, candidates are now flipping the script. Trump had made a name for himself by being very outspoken on social media, the fact that he posts and has free reign of his own account is a very new idea and could change the way politicians approach social media well into the future.

  1. Direct Interaction

This has always been a function of social media; companies and figures have the ability to interact with customers, consumers and followers through their social media. What’s changing, however, is the number of outlets that candidates have at their disposal. New on this front is Snapchat, who’s ever advancing Live stories give people a chance to ask questions of candidates in a much more informal manner than that of a town hall or a rally. Snapchat’s limited video length becomes the verbal version of Twitter, forcing candidates to word their answers in extremely concise and simple terms.

Not only is social media important for gaining the attention of the younger vote, it can also be used to reach every demographic depending on the channel. Facebook’s largest population is no longer teenagers but middle-aged men and women. Other channels such as Snapchat and Vine can be used to reach teens who cannot vote yet, but whose interaction is also vital. Point being, social media is here to stay and candidates are definitely using it their advantage. Four years from now the social media landscape will have changed dramatically and politicians will, like this year, be forced to adapt in order to be successful.

This guest blog post was written by PRowl account executive Hannah Litchfield. 


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