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US elections on social media: Trump still going strong

by Tilo Kmieckowiak on September 26, 2016

Both presidential candidates had their ups and downs during the 2016 campaign. Donald Trump went through another rough patch in the beginning of August. His negative statements regarding a crying baby at one of his rallies and those against the muslim background of a fallen soldier’s parents were followed by a decline in his polls. However, he has been able to recover and gain some ground on Hillary Clinton, whose good health has recently been questioned after her abrupt exit from the 9/11 memorial ceremony. As election day is coming closer and closer, both candidates are very active on social media. Do we also see ups and downs here or is the case rather clear about who is succeeding on Facebook and Twitter?

Who has the largest fan base?

The fan or follower count is one of the most basic but yet central social media KPIs. Looking at the two pie charts below, it is easy to identify that Donald Trump is leading over Hillary Clinton in terms of followers. The republican accumulated 56.7% percent of their total follower base on Twitter, while he can he managed to gather around 65.7% percent of the fans on Facebook in July 2016.

Trump has lost 1.2% of his fans in relation to their combined total fans on Facebook compared to June. Until the end of August, he has lost another percent to Hillary Clinton. On Twitter, there has been no change from June to July, and just a slight increase of 0.1% for the republican from July to August. According to these findings, Hillary Clinton has again been able to slightly gain ground on Facebook. Nonetheless, the gap between the candidates is still large.

us elections on social media

Who can win more people over?

Both candidates could gain many new followers in July, especially around the national conventions. For example, both Clinton and Trump were able to acquire more than 175k additional followers on one day in July. However, after the conventions, the numbers look different for August. Within the first week, Clinton has been able to reach more fans on Facebook than Donald Trump, who never gained above 30k on one day within the last month. When looking at Twitter, Clinton could only reach more people than Trump on August 23rd.

US elections on social media

Who achieves the most interactions?

In the age of social media, the times of one directional campaigns are over. Voters can easily react to what the presidential candidates put out there and have a say on Facebook or Twitter. The politicians, however, don’t fear this dialogue with the electorate. They are much more focused on creating content that is stirring up engagement among the social network users.

The term interactions describes the total number of comments, likes and shares on Facebook and the sum of all retweets, likes and replies on Twitter. Comparing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the republican is far ahead of his rival on both networks. On Facebook, Clinton reached around 4.2 million interactions, while Trump reached more than 18.5 million. While numbers are lower for both on Twitter, Trump still achieved a higher number of interactions than Clinton. The former first lady reached roughly 1.6 million interactions there, while Trump got around 7.6 million.

Hillary Clinton posted 233 times on Facebook and 375 times on Twitter in August 2016. Her republican rival posted 247 times on the former and 267 on the latter. Accordingly, Trump was less active on Twitter than Clinton , while it is the other way around on Facebook.In conclusion, he achieved more interactions in both networks.

Most successful FB post in terms of interactions

Most successful tweet in terms of interactions


us elections on social media

What are the most successful hashtags on Twitter?

Setting up a hashtag on Twitter for political slogans and candidates has become an almost natural act. The same holds true for events like conventions or debates. The hashtag of the republican national convention was clearly leading in July 2016. #RNCinCLE received almost one million interactions. Trump’s campaign is again very successful in August 2016. The top 5 hashtags in regard to the received interactions all come from Trump. (Note: #MAGA is an abbreviation for Make America Great Again.)

us elections on social media

Who is relying on sponsored content?

Facebook’s advertising revenue is soaring and besides companies, parties and politicians also use this service to promote their agenda. This is why we have launched a state of the art machine learning process that helps detect sponsored content with an accuracy of 96%. According to our sponsored post detection, it seems like Hillary Clinton is now promoting almost all of her posts on Facebook. She is continuing to rely more on paid content as she has already increased her share by 15% from May to June 2016 . Nevertheless, the same holds true for Donald Trump. While he used less than 20% of sponsored content in May, his share has increased to more than 50% in July. Most recent data from August 2016 shows that he is now using almost 80% paid content. Hillary Clinton is keeping her high share of sponsored posts in August. Accordingly, it is clearly visible that both candidates have been significantly ramping up their Facebook advertising as election day is drawing closer and closer.

us elections on social media

Facebook vs. Twitter: Which is the voter’s choice for dialogue?

To allocate financial resources efficiently in a campaign, it is important to always think of which is the most preferred network among the audience and which also suits your purpose. As shown below, the interaction rate for the combined data of both nominees is consistently higher on Facebook than on Twitter. Facebook might thus be the better choice in case you want to create more of a dialogue through interactions. This has not changed in the course of the last months and is probably also largely due to how these networks function in different ways. However, when comparing the data from August with July, it becomes visible that the interaction rates on Facebook are now lower than in the previous month.

US elections social media

Election day is coming closer...

Election day is now less than one and a half months away. Concerning his numbers, Donald Trump is most probably going to be the winner of the social media campaigns. However, while the gap is more narrow than last month, Hillary Clinton has been able to maintain her lead in the polls as presented by RealClearPolitics. If one thing is sure at this point of time: the race for the White House is going to stay exciting, especially with the TV debates coming up. To witness live fan growth during these events, head on over to our presidential elections page.

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