On Sunday, Hillary Rodham Clinton released a video featuring the stories of a diverse group of Americans embarking on different, new stages in their lives. She also happened to announce that she will be running for president.
The video was about as viral as a clip can get: Less than 24 hours after the video launched and she revealed her new Facebook page, Clinton had racked up more than 600,000 page likes and 2 million video views. Those big numbers only serve to underscore the massive impact that social media is expected to play in the upcoming 2016 presidential race. (It is also a rare opportunity for a do-over in which Clinton can correct a few of her missteps from her previous presidential bid, and control some of messaging around the recent scandal over her use of personal email.)
“Social data drove the 2008 presidential elections and big data drove the 2012 election,” according to a piece in Wired. “In 2016 it will be the marriage of the two that will determine the next President of the United States.” And in a race where the millennial vote may be the determining factor, social media has never been more crucial for the candidates.
So how does Clinton measure up? We ran down her presence on the major platforms and compared them with her potential Republican opponents, then asked brand experts what they thought.
Twitter: 3.3 million followers
Twitter is Clinton’s milieu. She wins the follower race — potential opponents Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio only have 599,000 and 722,000 followers, respectively. The @HillaryClinton account got a major facelift after Clinton announced her presidential bid Sunday. She’s been on it the longest out of all her platforms, and chose to announce her candidacy on the platform. Half a million tweets mentioned her presidential bid in the first 24 hours after she announced.
The new logo — which has been blasted for being ugly and simple — is front and center. But Clinton’s Twitter isn’t afraid to dig right in. It even acknowledged the logo controversy, tweeting about the “Hillvetica Bold” font a fan created.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 14, 2015
But Twitter is also where the opposition is. The hashtag #WhyImNotVotingForHillary trended in many places around the U.S. Sunday, according to data from Spredfast, with almost 100,000 total uses in the first 24 hours. #Hillary2016, in comparison, was only used 13,000 times.
— AndiO (@AndiOhal) April 12, 2015
Facebook: 700,000 likes
Clinton didn’t have a Facebook presence until Sunday, and in the last four days has racked up over 700,000 likes — about the same number of likes that Texas Republican Ted Cruz currently enjoys. That’s also about the same number as Rubio, who is just shy of 800,000 likes, but behind Paul, who has almost 2 million. She has also diversified quickly, making “Hillary for Iowa” and “Hillary for New Hampshire” pages.
Michelle Barna-Stern, exec director of content and campaigns at Blue State Digital, said Hillary’s social media team does a great job of harnessing the power of Twitter and Facebook. “In a very short period of time, we’ve already seen the ability for a campaign to build a narrative,” she said. “The creation of the ‘Iowa’ accounts aligned with Hillary’s trip to Iowa and show they’re ready to provide targeted content at the state level from week one.”
Sam Becker, creative director at branding consultancy Brand Union, said he is a fan of Clinton’s “simple and iconic” logo, which he said works really well on social. “As far as her social content goes, it’s a mix of the expected messages and imagery with the occasional honest moment,” he said. “Hillary’s selfies with voters do feel genuine and she gets extra points for her custom designed campaign graphics like the ‘90%’ policy piece [below]. It’s simple, clear and on brand. The typography and colors are used consistently and memorably.”
Clinton doesn’t have her own Instagram account — the @hillaryclinton handle is owned by someone different. But the “Ready for Hillary” PAC has one, which is currently kept private. Becker said it’s better to keep accounts private than empty but advised Clinton to bring her own Instagram into the fold. Considering her selfie-loving persona, he said it might work well.
Barna-Stern said she recommends Clinton check out some of these newer platforms, especially the live-streaming ones. “These are channels to watch as they can potentially be instrumental at providing a real-time opportunity to engage with supporters and share behind-the-scenes content,” she said.
Becker said Pinterest has more specific rules of engagement — it’s primarily used for inspiration. Figuring out what that means for a presidential candidate is tough, especially as Clinton tries to move the conversation away from her wardrobe and hairstyles and onto her policies. Barna-Stern said, “Pinterest could offer an opportunity to speak with a predominantly female demographic in a visually engaging way,” if done right — maybe to display merchandise and old family photos.
Clinton’s presidential campaign doesn’t have an official Snapchat presence, but the candidate has already dipped her toe into the world of disappearing messages — and we’re not talking about those emails. On International Women’s Day, Clinton sent a Snapchat for the “Not There” campaign, created by the Clinton Foundation. The campaign showed women erasing avatars online and disappearing from media to show how pervasive gender inequality still is.
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