Social Media's Impact on the 2016 Presidential Election

Social media's
Social media's

On November 8, 2016, Americans will elect the 45th president of the United States. As campaign strategies continue to become digitally focused, it will be interesting to see what kind of impact social media makes for each candidate.

According to ad spending trackers Borell Associates, 2016 will mark a record-high $11.4 billion being spent on political advertising. That's a 20 percent jump from 2012 numbers. Of that massive bill, about $1 billion will be spent digitally, targeting social media sites and platforms. These totals forecast future digital political ad spending shown in this chart. 

Borell Associates
Borell Associates

The Candidates  As with any digital campaign, followers aren't everything. Bridgette Majewski, research directer at Forrester told CNBC, "Just because you have a follower doesn't mean you have a vote. It just means that you have caught their ear. ... It's a good signal, but at the end of the day, a signal is not a vote."

Most-Followed-Candidates-680x408
Most-Followed-Candidates-680x408

Between the most popular candidates to win the election, the amount of followers each of them has at their disposal is significant. 

 The question is, does social media popularity correlate to winning an election?

With the amount of "Millennial's" using social media as their source for news, it would wise for these campaigns to provoke engagement through these outlets.

Social Media Wars It's apparent that digital political advertising can both help and hurt a candidates chances. With all sorts of propaganda floating across the social media world, it's important for these campaigns to market their candidates justly, albeit misinformed notions. Take this tweet by Donald Trump as an example of promoting while demoting.

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 11.58.27 AM
Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 11.58.27 AM

Trump isn't the only one using social media to get his message across audiences. Recently, Hillary Clinton fired a few shots through her Twitter account at Donald Trump.

#GOPdebatepic.twitter.com/aAE5q0IBYN

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 11, 2016

Not all political social media engagements have to be at each others disposal. Sen. Bernie Sanders has his followers to thank for a successful social media campaign. His Twitter hashtag #FeeltheBern was created by his followers to capture viral moments of his political campaign. The hashtag, according to bernrate.com, has been mentioned up 200,000 times in one day in the month of March. This quote from CNBC explains the hashtag:

"The slogan is an indication of the real grassroots energy that is behind our campaign, that you can't find behind any other campaign," said Kenneth Pennington, digital director for Sander's campaign. "The slogan represents the energy that you are seeing, especially among millennial voters and younger social media supporters behind Sen. Sanders."

twitterfeelthebern
twitterfeelthebern

And The Winner Is.. To answer the question on the correlation of social media and a winning candidacy, a presence on social media for these campaigns is a MUST. Whether or not their message is politically correct, it causes a media frenzy for engagement. People are on social media just for the 'digital wars' between candidates that they won't find on television. These social bashings are purposely meant to shame an opponent and can potentially sway voters that aren't tied into one political angle.

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