Trump's social media credibility

Posted November 3, 2016

The two leading US presidential candidates are using social media in totally different ways and Donald Trump’s strategy is far more credible than Hillary Clinton’s.

In a Pew Research study of Facebook posts by the two candidates for the month of May, 78 percent of Trump’s posts linked to traditional news media stories. In contrast, 80 percent of Clinton’s took visitors back to her campaign page where the vast majority of stories were produced in-house. The same trend emerged on Twitter.

Why was Trump’s more credible?

Obviously there are positives and negatives to each strategy, but the reason Trump’s posts were more credible is that he backed them up by linking to a third party. Everyone knows that media stories are not produced by the candidates themselves, so are more credible. Trump (or whoever was managing his posts) would have been highly selective about what stories to link to. But it’s a very effective way to get a point across without beating your own drum.

With Clinton’s strategy, she gets to control every word that her followers read. That’s more effective in staying completely on message, but lacks the credibility that media stories offer.

This strategy may have changed to some extent since May. If it hasn’t, I’d imagine the Clinton camp will change now with the recent drama of the email saga. She clearly needs potential voters to hear her side of the argument. But it would be far more effective if they hear other credible sources putting her case, rather than her alone.

This Trump strategy of sharing traditional news media stories through social media channels is not taken advantage of by many businesses. Anyone can post on Twitter and Facebook these days, but the added third party endorsement that traditional media offers allows those who take advantage of it to stand apart from their competitors.

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