In 1789 the first United States presidential election took place. Imagine how those candidates reached a national audience of constituents in comparison with today. With F.D.R. labeled ‘the President of radio’, J.F.K. ‘the President of television’, and Obama ‘the President of Internet’, we will have to wait and see who takes the ‘President of social media’ title.
Obama was the first to use social media to his advantage. In fact, he was deemed “The White House’s First Social Media Ninja” with how effectively he used social media as a major campaign strategy in both 2008 and 2012. Whether he truly started the trend or not, we have since seen other candidates jumping on the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter bandwagons.
2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump may be a frontrunner for the title. Early on in the election cycle, Trump was accused of using social media to stir up the race and cause controversy. Regardless of his intentions, the increased presence has certainly been successful in gaining voters’ attention. With more than 9.5 million Twitter followers, 8.6 million Facebook followers, and 1.9 million Instagram followers, he is blowing every other presidential candidate out of the water in terms of the size of his audience.
Trump’s not alone. With 73% of Americans now on social media, candidates are relying more heavily on witty tweets and catchy Instagram captions to gain attention than on the TV debates, posters, and leaflets that once circulated amongst voters.
From Hillary Clinton announcing her presidential campaign online (you have to give her props for trying to replicate Beyoncé’s unexpected album drop) to Donald Trump being labeled the “Dictator of Social Media” due to his immense online presence (whether good or bad), candidates are delivering their platforms straight to social media and straight to the public.
With the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention right around the corner, we are sure to see less friendly Facebook pokes between candidates and instead an increase of Twitter wars. It’s starting to seem as if every tweet counts just as much as every vote. Tell us – on which platforms are you following presidential candidates?