NZ Politicians can learn from Trump's Twitter strategy

17 May 2017

It’s clear that social media campaigning will have a huge influence over the outcome of September’s General Election. To maximise their success, politicians should learn a few secrets from Donald Trump.


What did Trump do so well?

He was very careful with the language he used. He didn’t just make points, he made them in ways that were not only understood by potential voters, but remembered. He did this by using the same language that savvy media interview experts use to get their points across.

Clearly he used conflict the most. For example, see the following tweet about Barack Obama.

Obama is, without question, the WORST EVER president. I predict he will now do something really bad and totally stupid to show manhood!

New Zealand politicians may not want to use conflict as much to get points across, although it is one option. But notice another element he used in this tweet that he used as much as conflict during the campaign. That’s ABSOLUTE LANGUAGE. He doesn’t leave any doubt in people’s minds what he thinks of Obama. “Without question, the worst ever leader” is pretty absolute.

That’s far better and clearer than what most politicians would say. They are more likely to say something like, “Obama has not done enough as President.” How boring and unmemorable.

Trump also used analogies well. People remember these because they make a point by relating it to something they already understand. Look at the following example.

The media is spending more time doing a forensic analysis of Melania's speech than the FBI spent on Hillary's emails.

How much more memorable is that than just saying that the media is spending too much time on Melania’s speech?


What other benefits are there to this?

I bet you became aware of many famous Trump tweets through traditional media sources. That’s because the language he uses is exactly what the news media want for quotes in their news stories. That gave Trump a double whammy and was one reason why he got something like five times more traditional media coverage than Hillary Clinton.

So while New Zealand politicians might not want to be as outrageous as Trump, by dressing up their social media posts with interesting language, they can make their points stick with voters and maximise their reach.

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Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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