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The Role of Social Media in the 2016 Election

This article originally appeared on M&I in 1/17

Regardless of how you felt about Trump clinching the presidential election this past November, it's clear this polarizing figure was largely underestimated by the majority of pollsters across the country. In the weeks since the results were announced, as the dust has cleared we've been able to get a better look at how exactly he managed it, and as Forbes reported in December, 2016, a huge part of the puzzle was Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his strategic use of social media. 

With very little resources, Kushner utilized micro-targeting through Facebook, tailored the messaging towards potential supporters, and created several videos of Trump talking directly into the camera. These low-tech videos, which cost essentially nothing to produce, were distributed through Facebook and Twitter. The strategy Kushner employed throughout the campaign was a simple one; they found their target audience, tailored the messaging towards them, and adapted quickly as the metrics rolled in. As Kushner explained to Forbes, "We weren't afraid to make changes. We weren't afraid to fail. We tried to do things very cheaply, very quickly. And if it wasn't working, we would kill it quickly." 

This strategy of tailoring messages to a clearly defined audience of potential consumers (or in Trump’s case, donors), was the resounding thesis of our first Digital Marketing Workshop last month. As platforms like Facebook and YouTube continue to shift and grow, it’s become clear that participating on social media in order to market your business is a trend that isn’t going anywhere.

Identifying goals, then leveraging available platforms to best achieve them is the cornerstone of our Digital Marketing services, and with only a cursory glance at Trump’s controversial but massively successful campaign, it’s clear to see why. As Kushner explained to Forbes, “We played Moneyball, asking ourselves, which states will get the best ROI for the electoral vote. I asked, how can we get Trump’s message to that consumer for the least amount of cost?” When FEC filings rolled in and showed that the Trump campaign had spent approximately half the amount of the Clinton campaign, it became clear that Kushner’s lack of experience in traditional fundraising techniques had been an advantage.

As we move forward into the new year, we urge all our clients, both current and prospective, to step back and reevaluate the relationship between your company and your social media presence. As various platforms continue to expand their offerings for looking at the metrics generated by participation, it’s more important now than it’s ever been, to ensure you have a strong digital marketing strategy in place. Interested in learning about how an assessment can help you look critically at your web content? Get in touch with us today.

Arielle Mullen