What Makes Trump’s Social Media Strategy So Effective?

In the course of United States history, only three presidents have been impeached. The first came when Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 and we didn’t see it again until Bill Clinton 130 years later. Then, Donald Trump made history when he became the third president to be impeached, and the first president to be impeached twice.

It seemed that so many things went wrong during the Trump presidency, but he was still able to keep almost all of his loyal following. So much so, in fact, that his contingency was willing to believe that his reelection bid was stolen from him and advanced on the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. So how did someone known for real estate, reality television and no prior political history develop such a strong following? The marketing, of course. More specifically, Trump knew how to play the social media game.

Before Trump came along, most politicians would be very selective with the words they used on social media, with many simply having a social media management team to post for them. Not Trump, though. Trump would let loose any thought that came to his head and let people know how he felt on any and every subject from the economy to sports. 

This helped to establish Trump as someone who was not part of the establishment. He was sending out tweets on an almost hourly basis in the same way that your average Twitter user would do. This made him more accessible to people on the internet and relatable. Although you might not agree with what he was saying, nobody has been able to establish the kind of presence that Trump did leading up to his Twitter ban in 2021.

It wasn’t just Twitter that saw a massive uptick in Trump interest, as Facebook users (who tend to skew older these days than when it was first introduced) were able to garner him a lot of monetary support. His social media manager, Brad Parscale, said that advertising on Facebook made it so that Trump wasn’t spending all of his own money on his campaign. This was able to bring in nearly $300 million in funds. “Facebook allowed us to do that in alarming numbers,” Parscale said. He added that the Facebook campaign got the other social media platforms interested in having Trump related coverage to bring in more money.

Nobody purchased more advertising in their 2016 campaign than Jeb Bush at $82 million, while Trump spent just $10 million, which placed him eighth overall for any candidate. Trump’s grassroots campaign and social media coverage spread like wildfire, though, generating an estimated $1.9 billion in free advertising. Hillary Clinton was second on that list…at $746 million.

Trump followed what was known as ‘big seed’ marketing in the fact that he already had a lot of followers, and many of them shared the same opinions as him. Because of this, there was no such thing as “bad press.” All Trump had to do was tweet, and he would be talked about ad nauseum for what he said rather than any specific policies. This is what caused the saturation of Donald Trump, and led to him being the most visible candidate and won him an election. 

“I really believe that fact that I have such power in terms of numbers with (social media), I think it helped me win all of these races where others spent much more money than I spent,” Trump said. “I think that social media has more power than the money others spent…I proved that.”

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