The Social Campaigns That Defined the US Election

The Social Campaigns That Defined the US Election

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The fallout and furore surrounding Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election shows no signs of slowing down and will undoubtedly dominate news headlines for many weeks to come.

While the American population rejoice-slash-despair and political commentators continue to analyse the situation to death, we’ve been looking at the key social campaigns and movements that defined the race to the White House – at least online.

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“Delete your account”

Before Clinton and Trump went head to head, they first had to be chosen as nominee for their respective parties.

While several high-profile Republicans weren’t exactly happy with Trump, Clinton received a formal endorsement from the man that mattered most – President Obama.

In his typical Trumpy fashion, Trump responded on Twitter, calling Clinton “crooked.”

Seemingly riding the crest of a wave after being given the backing of one of the most admired presidents in recent history, Clinton replied with style and swagger, simply tweeting “Delete your account.”

These three words are commonplace on Twitter, used as a pithy retort to hate and trolls. Clinton’s attitude and awareness struck a chord with the entire Internet and several reaction gifs followed.

By the end of the June 2016, it became the most retweeted tweet of all time and surpassed some 1,000,000 interactions.

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‘The_Donald’ Reddit sub-forum

Reddit has a reputation for being somewhat unhinged, where anything goes within its many sub-forums. One of which, entitled ‘The_Donald’, has remained a hive of activity throughout the US election and is consistently ranked in the top three most active sub-forums on the entire site.

Inspired by Trump’s heedless attitude, an army of users shared links, photos and videos in support of their favoured candidate. This relentless campaigning meant Reddit’s homepage featured endless pro-Trump material, eventually forcing the site to change its algorithm.

Because the Trump campaign didn’t have a large online operation, it relied heavily on social media. Even Trump admitted that Facebook and Twitter won him the election, with his digital director Brad Parscale saying the bulk of the campaign’s $250 million came from online fundraising.

To say thanks to Reddit and keep campaigners motivated, Trump participated in an Ask Me Anything campaign, which broke the site-wide record for most awards of “Reddit Gold” at 113, beating the previous record of 95.

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#WomenWhoVoteTrump

On the face of it, you’d be forgiven for assuming that women would have voted heavily in favour of Clinton. Along with the fact that she had the potential to be the first female president of the United States, Trump courted huge controversy for lewd comments about using his fame for sexual advances in a secret 2005 recording.

Women who supported Trump were encouraged to take to social media with the hashtag #WomenWhoVoteTrump by Jennifer Arangio, national director for the group National Women for Trump.

“The time is now to show your support for Donald J. Trump! Help us spread the word that millions of women are supporting Trump,” Arangio wrote.

It has actually been suggested that the 53 per cent of white women who voted Trump pushed him over the Electoral College line. There is therefore a strong chance that this particular hashtag helped ‘shy’ voters feel better about their decision.

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Clinton’s digital hotline

The fact that only 58 per cent of the US population took part on Election Day reveals how difficult voting in America can be. A number of polling places reported extremely long lines and there were numerous instances of voting machines on the blink.

To try and weather the storm, the Clinton campaign launched a ‘digital hotline’ where voters could ask questions on Twitter, Facebook and via text. A glance at social media shows that it was a clever initiative (if not quite clever enough as many people took to the digital world to complain about long lines and ballot issues.

While we can’t say for certain whether Clinton’s digital hotline actually helped supporters cast their vote, the 50 staffers and volunteers that answered questions might not have been enough for the 130 million Americans that still went to the polls.

Social media is expected to play an even bigger role in helping the voting public in future elections with things like Twitter’s new Direct Message feature, featured in our digital content gift ideas for Christmas blog, potentially coming into play.

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‘Fake News’

Perhaps the biggest social story that has come to light since the US election is the influential role of ’fake news’ articles, which took advantage of user reliance on sites like Facebook and Twitter for information about world events.

Hundreds of invented articles and hoax stories came to light in the run-up to polling day, including Pope Francis endorsing Trump, claims Bill Clinton had a secret son, and speculation that Hillary was dying.

Fake news outperformed real news on Facebook in the final months of the US election, with some suggesting that this swung the result in Trump’s favour. Obama had previously told his advisory team that Trump understood a “new ecosystem, in which facts and truth don’t matter’, but it was all too late for his protégé Clinton.

Both Facebook and Google have promised to rid their sites of fake news articles, but the open and extensive nature of the Internet means that charlatan content creators won’t need to look far for other opportunities.

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#GrabYourWallet

Most Americans that are unhappy with the election result will be nervously wondering what Trump might actually do when he is in charge. But for those that don’t want to wait and see, a new movement is gaining traction, which could hit Trump where it hurts the most.

#GrabYourWallet is encouraging people to boycott Trump-affiliated brands and retailers – a count of almost 50 companies. Along with targeting shops that stock products sold by the family business, it is also shunning companies headed by Trump supporters, such as Yuengling Brewery.

“College-educated women in particular are well aware of the epic consumer power they wield, and they’re flexing that power,” said Shannon Coulter, marketing specialist and one of the movement’s founders.

So far, it has convinced Shoes.com to remove Ivanka Trump’s shoes from its website. Next up on #GrabYourWallet’s hit list are Nordstrom, Amazon, and Macy’s among others.

 

So there you have it. All of this happened with social campaigns online and for better or worse the unbelievable happened. Only time will tell what America will look like with Trump at the helm.