Top 3 Social Media Takeaways for Brands from the Presidential Election

While it’s still very early in the election season, the race to the presidential candidacy has been vigorously played out in social media.

While it’s still very early in the election season, the race to the presidential candidacy has been vigorously played out in social media. Candidates are bypassing traditional media to speak directly to potential voters. They are showing up in unexpected new channels. They are hoping to rely less and less on being “on the news” and are rather hoping to be “the news.”

They are paying to influence hearts and minds in every digital way they can. And the major social media companies are loving the political business.

Twitter provides candidates a list of Twitter handles that it wants to target based on their values and influence. Facebook allows campaigns to gather a list of voter files, and then the company will provide the Facebook accounts matching those records. Snapchat hired a lead exec from Google’s political ad sales efforts who was once a member of the White House communications team under President George W. Bush.

So, the race is on.

But as we watch on the sidelines, what can we learn from all of this?

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Does follower count matter now?

While Barack Obama’s embracing of social media may have helped his campaign (Obama spent 10x more on social media than his opponents), social media dominance doesn’t exactly translate to votes (or sales, or customers). And your number of social media followers doesn’t always translate into social media impact.

We often use engagement as a key metric; which means that someone is commenting, liking or sharing what you posted. That being said, which candidate is winning at engagement?

Bernie Sanders currently has the highest level of engagement on his individual Facebook posts. His hashtag, #FeelTheBern, has been tweeted at least 100x more times than some of his rivals, including Hillary Clinton. He’s even grown a, shall we say, “niche” community on Instagram called #babesforbernie, where women are tagging themselves in support for his candidacy.

We also looked at the type of engagement that each candidate is getting. You can’t do an analysis like this without looking hard at Donald Trump, who has one of the fastest growing social media accounts (more on that later), with a lot of engagement. Like Spam and the Kardashians, he’s built an American brand that is getting attention.

But what type of attention? The ratio of negative sentiment is higher for Trump than it is for any other candidate. Here is a word cloud of the top keywords that are being mentioned in connection with Trump.

!election

Many of his retweets and responses and mentions are, without surprise, quite infuriated (including the many, many who have posted variations of “wanting to build a wall around Trump”).

!election2

And, a quick analysis of Hillary’s general sentiment seems positive on the surface – but when you dig into the actual content, her recent mentions aren’t dominated by positives about her or her policies but rather include a lot of positive mentions about her opponent, Bernie Sanders, and the challenge he’s giving her.

The lesson? Retweets do not exactly imply endorsement. 

The Snapchat Election

As we write this, almost every candidate is live with a Snapchat account, the country’s current fastest growing messaging app.

Clinton jokingly referred to her email scandal when she said that she launched Snapchat because “those messages disappear all by themselves.”

Jeb Bush announced his candidacy via an exclusive Snapchat partnership, marking the first time a candidate used the tool to gain full access to all of their active users and having struck a partnership of this kind.

Why is everyone flocking to Snapchat?

The most obvious reason is its dominance among the allusive 18 to 25 age group target.