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Social Media + Politics

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June 15, 2016 – Joshua Harlow, Senior Vice President

Recently, President Obama endorsed presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in a web video. Donald Trump fired back with the following tweet, and Clinton responded within minutes.



Social media has dramatically impacted campaigns and the way Americans interact with elected officials. Here are three reasons social media is changing our political landscape:

·      Rapid response: Social media is now the best mechanism for reaching constituents. 63 percent of Twitter and Facebook users say the social media platforms serve as their primary news source, according to PEW Research Center. Additionally, 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney used social media to stay connected to voters during his campaign, revamping his communications team from 14 to 120 staffers. Romney's digital director, Zac Moffatt, who was in charge of all social media initiatives put it this way: "There is a higher level of expectation for speed than in past elections for getting information out, and the campaigns have to be that much faster. The internet is a powerful thing, and not everyone is watching TV spots anymore, so we're trying to use the web to our advantage the best way we can."


·      Changing Narrative: This rapid nature has allowed any candidate to change their narrative at any point in their campaign. Take, for example, Trump’s love for Hispanics in his Cinco de Mayo tweet:



Trump put out this tweet and entirely changed the narrative of the presidential race. What the Trump campaign probably thought to be good outreach to the Hispanic community turned out to take a huge hit to his credibility as a serious candidate. The narrative got out of the Trump campaign’s control, resulting in thousands of negative Facebook and Twitter responses about his lack of authenticity. This changing narrative has other downfalls for candidates. Just as quickly as they boost themselves up on social media, they can hurt themselves as we saw with David Cameron and George Osborne, who were excessively mocked for their “staged selfies.” Twitter burst with parodies of the staged shot, and Osborne was criticized as a poser.


·      Running a campaign Candidates are now running full-length digital campaigns. Ted Cruz excelled in fundraising through an app for his bid for the Republican candidacy. The app rewarded users for liking social media posts and generating interest. His approach was a huge success, garnering $26.6 million – the second largest amount a Republican has ever raised. Bernie Sanders – the favorite among young Democrats – also gained traction through his digital campaign using #FeelTheBern.   

Josh Harlow is the Vice President of Public Affairs & Consumer Marketing at Jones PR.

Jones PR was formed in 2001 and has grown into a leading national integrated communications and public affairs agency with international partners through PROI Worldwide proi.org, ranked the 6th largest public relations holding group. Jones PR leads a digital trend in Oklahoma with its new domain – www.jones.pr. The agency provides a full range of services in traditional, digital and social media for national corporations and associations.


Sources: Mashable, Fox News Latino

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