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What Hillary Clinton - and brands - can learn from Donald Trump's Twitter

By Lyndon Morant | Head of Strategy

September 28, 2016 | 7 min read

As the dust settles on the first Presidential Debate of the 2016 campaign, pollsters and media outlets are attempting to guide the public through their interpretation of who won, when, and why. Conclusions vary wildly. Trump received 62% of the Twitter volume. Clinton, according to CNN/ORC’s poll, received 62% of the votes. What is it about Trump that has Twitter so… aflutter?

Presidential Debate

Presidential Debate

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Across all platforms, Donald Trump posts an average of 25 pieces of content per day with 17 on Twitter alone. 90% of his Tweets are direct, with only 10% being retweets and almost no @replies; whereas, 1 in 4 of Hillary’s tweets will be a retweet and she’s much more like to @reply. Over the past 12 months, his prolific tweeting has yielded twice as many interactions as Clinton.

Trump tweets personally from his Android phone and his campaign tweets from an iPhone. 56% of his tweets come from Android and contain words like “badly”, “crazy”, and “weak” – Trump favourites – whereas the iPhone will use more mundane language and #tags, including #makeamericagreatagain and #Trump2016. 16% of his Tweets come from iPhone – taking his mobile total to 71% – with a further 25% sent from a Twitter web client. It’s fair to say, then, that at least 56% of Donald Trump’s tweets are sent by him directly.

Kristina Schake, Deputy Comms Director for Hillary for America, recently noted that the Hillary for America creative team is nearly 500 people strong, with 150 people dedicated to digital content and distribution, and a further 70 people in the digital analytics team. Fewer than 5% of Hillary’s tweets come from mobile devices and 64% come from Tweetdeck. Given around 80% of tweets are sent from mobiles, and given how much time Hillary Clinton spends out of the office, this suggests that social media communication from Hillary is much more likely to be sent by a staffer than sent by her. The checks and processes that Hillary’s team has put in place to stop her campaign from saying something inappropriate have stemied her ability to be authentic.

When seen in the realm of the newsfeed, Clinton’s posts would look more like they come from a brand or promotion whereas Trump’s look like they come from a person.

Politicians are people, too

Trump’s lead over Clinton in the interaction stakes would have been even higher were it not for one particular post that catapulted Hillary Clinton’s total engagement. The “Delete your account” tweet was the single most-engaged post of either’s campaign to-date with over 1.1MM interactions. No well-produced videos or policy talk, just raw, unfiltered straight-talking – very much in Trump’s style. Trump’s reply was the second-most engaged post, though with less than half the interactions of Hillary’s original.

While it may seem un-Presidential, what’s evident here is that people want to see politicians as people, not policy. Being his unfiltered self, while exposing his imperfections, makes Trump appear to be more transparent than any other politician.

It’s not what he says. It’s how he says it.

Like Nixon and Kennedy before them, Hillary and Trump are judged separately by those valuing appearance and those valuing substance. It is easy to imagine that the more Hillary focuses on policy, the less trustworthy she will seem to Trump’s supporters, and the more Trump avoids detailed policy discussions, or refutes the value of policy altogether, the more authentic he becomes. Trump’s mastery of the newsfeed has created a straight-talking antithesis to the polished politician.

Here’s 3 lessons that Hillary Clinton, and brands alike, can learn from Donald Trump:

1. The appearance of authenticity matters more than accuracy.

Hillary needs to be seen as more than a politician – she needs to show sides to her personality and her credibility beyond being a life-long political figure; people are tired of hearing the same political statements and sentiments. To be seen as more than a politician, Hillary needs to be more responsive, witty, and unpredictable in social media. This sense of anticipation – what will she say next? – is something Trump does really well – and what all brilliant brands do, too. The reason the McWhopper campaign was so ingenious, and why the ‘delete your account’ exchange was so well-received, is that it pulled people in to wonder ‘what’s going to happen next?’ and demanded a response.

2. Conquest marketing is good for her and its good for us.

Hillary should work her paid media to target Trump’s supporters and fight him at his own game, calling out his crap in real-time. She started doing this during the debate when she asked audiences to visit as her team were checking facts live. Hillary needs to run with this strategy herself, from her own voice, not just through her team. Paid media can be a potent tool for laser targeting her content and her points of view to micro interest groups. Hillary needs to move from 1-to-many to 1-1 marketing, retargeting, lookalike targeting, and conversation targeting – all building off her earned media reach. Her message – ‘Stronger Together’ – needs to be contextualized so that it’s relevant for every American, especially Trump’s supporters.

3. Embrace the debate, don’t dismiss it.

Not every policy from Donald Trump is false or invalid. Imagine the clicks, and the respect, Hillary could drive with a Buzzfeed article entitled, ‘10 Trump policies I actually agree with’. Admitting that you could be – or could do – better is the purest form of authenticity. When brands open themselves up for feedback and customer collaboration, the results are nearly always positive. Hillary should embrace this. Donald Trump isn’t the enemy – Washington gridlock is the enemy.

Lyndon Morant is Mindshare's head of strategy in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. He tweets @SociableSport

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