blog header image

2016 Presidential Election: The Social Media Campaign


July 2, 2015

By: Melissa Gibson, Summer 2015 Social Media Intern

Social media has been a considerable factor in presidential campaigns since 2008, but the upcoming 2016 election may be the first that is influenced so heavily by multiple social platforms. Although the 2008 election is often hailed as the “Facebook election”, in 2016 we will see many other networking sites become valuable campaign tools.

Even though the election isn’t until later next year, social media has already come into play. Many candidates such as Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton have used social media to announce their bid for presidency. Others have used social media sites to establish their platforms and interact with voters. These actions are highly indicative of the future impact social media will have on this election.

Here are eight reasons the 2016 election will be different due to social media:

  1. Social media is an important and free tool.

In the past, presidential candidates had to raise large sums of money solely for marketing purposes. It is pricey to record and launch a TV spot or radio commercial during a prime timeslot. Although candidates still have to consider these mediums, many have realized the impact of social media and have adapted to current social trends by utilizing free platforms like Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.  Paid campaign ads can be promoted via these social media sites, and most candidates also have personal accounts on these outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, where social media teams manage the messages they send out to the public.

  1. Social media usage has increased by large amounts since 2008, and it only continues to grow.

The growth of social media is indicative of the impact it can have on broad audiences. In 2008, Obama’s tweet announcing his victory was re-tweeted only 157 times, but in 2012, his victory tweet was retweeted nearly 800,000 times. It is the third most retweeted tweet in history. This may be due in part to the President having more followers after his first presidential term, but it also shows the major increase in activity on Twitter.

  1. More and more people are using social media to get their news.

According to an AdWeek article, most people are clicking on news stories that appear in their social media feeds. Most news site hits are from social media referrals, because people tend to read an article that pops up on their news feed rather than going directly to a news website and searching for ones that interest them. In this day and age, promoting articles via social media sites has never been more important.

  1. There is a wealth of information to be found in social media.

With the use of analytics programs, it is easier than ever to get data and numbers concerning social media impact and usage. Using these programs, the candidates’ marketing teams can find out who is looking at their blog posts and how many people are interacting with them on social media. They can also gather information on these people, such as their location or which website referred them. In addition, their teams can sift through comments and replies to see the public’s reaction to their posts or actions. Many people like to share their opinions about issues via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

  1. Instagram and Snapchat have much larger impacts than in the past.

Instagram and Snapchat are relatively new social media outlets used by mostly younger generations. However, the 2016 presidential race has already seen usage of Snapchat by some of the candidates. Snapchat “stories”, or a compiled stream of photos and videos relating to a subject or event, are already popular for promotional use.  And because Snapchat is a mobile app that doesn’t support links or donations, its purpose is solely to be seen.  This increases social media exposure in a more subtle way.  Instagram is also a key social media outlet during this election season. It is the fastest growing social media site, especially with younger generations.  However, to get unsponsored advertisement on someone’s feed, they must be following you first.

  1. The new generation of voters have a heavy presence online.

While older adults are just starting to embrace Facebook, the youngest generation of voters are expanding to other platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. Most teens use more than one social media site on a daily basis. However, Facebook should not be disregarded. According to, 71% of online adults use Facebook. However, in terms of all social media platforms, over 90% of people online aged 18-29 use social media.  I know that I personally use 5-6 social media websites daily and a lot of the news I see comes from these social media sites. Creating content for social media sites can only help promotion.

  1. Utilization of Social Media has become more widespread and essential for marketing.

Business experts have concluded that social media is essential for 21st century marketing. reports that “by getting a brand’s name out there and accentuating the positive aspects, internet marketing can improve consumer sentiment and increase profits.”  Having a strong online presence cements a brand in consumers’ minds and creates a platform for customers to interact with the brand. In addition, when an organization uses social media to make announcements, consumers are reassured that these words come straight from the source.

  1. Social media is in the spotlight.

Occurrences on social media are now hot topics.  When a celebrity or politician tweets something noteworthy, news outlets include these tweets in their articles or use them as quotes.  In this way, people can use social media to make official announcements or press releases. For example, after the Supreme Court decision to make same-sex marriage legal on June 26, 2015, many politicians took to social media to share their opinions.  The resulting tweets and Facebook posts were then incorporated into many news articles, both online and print.

These are some of the reasons why social media will impact the presidential race of 2016. Of course, one of the keys to utilizing social media is being able to gauge public reaction to your activity and evaluating the data analytics to boost your online presence and garner positive reactions.This skill is priceless in the game of marketing.

And as a voter, remember to maintain a level head about everything! You can’t trust every single thing you read on the internet, and keep in mind that everything released from these politicians’ is carefully selected and worded in order to gain voters.

By: Melissa Gibson, Summer 2015 Social Media Intern