Arguably, communication is, in its deepest essence, the backbone of all campaigns. And while every vying politician takes the time to strategize the best tactics to use when communicating, and keeping in touch with the public, the 2016 presidential candidates, Hilary Clinton and President Donald Trump were not any exceptional. Unlike a majority of the past general elections, the 2016 United States general election was primarily characterized by its extensive use of new media; which mainly consists of digital technologies that are often interactive, manipulated, compressible, and networkable, to communicate and debate on national issues (Dezelan & Vobic, 2016). This being said, this paper seeks to evaluate and discuss the most effective media used by the two candidates for putting across their intended messages to their voters.
With the extensive use of new media today, it is evident that traditional media continues to fragment. This, in essence, forced the 2016 election candidates to look for new and novel ways to directly pass their messages to the voters. In all likelihood, social media became the most extensively used media during the 2016 election campaigns (Whang, 2016). Based on the fact that within each social media platform there is a broad range of audiences to target, to a larger extent, both Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton diversified their social media use, to accommodate the diverse functions and audiences that they intended to reach to. Thus, in this regard, the two candidates considered their goals for using each social media platform as a filter of the messages they passed to their audiences.
In a 2016 electoral cycle that was, arguably, anything but ordinary, social media, played the most effective and outsized roles. Precisely, Facebook and Twitter, the two social media giants became the most extensively used social media by both the candidates. Additionally, for a better part of the campaigning period, social media platforms were leveraged to communicate to the targeted audience and to debate various national issues. For instance, as the most-followed presidential candidate during the 2016 campaigns, President Donald Trump, was known to extensively use social media as a platform where he got the chance to influence and provoke masses that followed him along. At more than 8 million followers across three major social media channels, Trump managed to effectively communicate his ideologies and his election strategies to his intended audience. According to numerous media reports during the campaigning period, Donald Trump had premised his campaign on his tweeting adept abilities and being able to dominate social media. This, in essence, gave Trump control over his audience.
On the other hand, through her social media accounts, Hilary Clinton and her campaigns virtually pulled off strategic campaigning stunts, which primarily connected her to her supporters. In a majority of her social media accounts, her campaign strategies garnered a vast range of interactions from the voters. Ranging from the number of comments to the shares and the retweets on her Twitter account, Clinton penned a tweet that became the most re-tweeted tweet in the entire election campaigns period. Practically, in the presidential debate context, Clinton got over 100,000 re-tweets in a tweet that had a direct link to Donald Trumps 2012 tweet stating that global warming was a Chinese trick. Both as a critique and an informative message, this tweet, ironically got more than 98,000 retweets, becoming Trumps third most retweeted posts. In a nutshell, the tweets and the retweets for both the candidates became the center of debates, discussions and the interaction of the candidates with their voters. Additionally, the candidates gave their potential voters a platform to share their views and ideas in relation to the election strategies (Green, 2016).
In a similar regard, the candidates banked on social media as an easy and effective means where they not only shared messages with their intended audience but also critiqued and responded to each others contentions. For instance, one of the most popular campaign situation when President Trump extensively used his social media platforms to go after President Obama for backing Clinton in her presidential race. In a rather outrageous statement, Trump posted on social media that President Obama just endorsed Crooked Hillary. Citing that President Obama support for Clinton would mean another four more years of Obama, Trumps tweet immediately fired a classic retort and debate that allowed both the voters and the candidates to air their opinions. More so, the tweet was endorsed by various political figures and representatives, among them, Jenna Lowenstein, the digital director for Clintons campaign. Lowenstein stated that the mass responses that were received from that tweet were a reflection of the talent and the adept abilities of a candidate and her team to cultivate a voice on the internet (Patel, 2016).
Additionally, the internet as a whole is a type of new media that was extensively and more efficiently used by the 2016 presidential candidates in their campaigns. The efficient use of the internet and various internet sources as the essence of communication allowed both Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump to relay their messages, as well as rally support from their supporters. Other than various social media platforms, the candidates, like President Obama, hosted campaign websites where they were able to bring across their campaign promises and ideas to their intended audience and voters. For example, Hillary, alongside her campaigning team launched the 4President.Us website where she channeled all her campaign efforts to garner the support needed for her to win the elections. In this regard, Hilary had adopted President Obamas website strategy a current media medium that supplied her with the efficient and the effective mass communication. That aside, Hilary effectively made use of the internet and its resources by ensuring that she routinely posted on all her social media accounts. For instance, she made use of both her Facebook and Twitter accounts, alongside other new media mediums such as Instagram, Snapchat and her campaign website. This being said, her extensive use of these Medias essentially ensured that she remained relevant in the overall online political discourse (PewResearch, 2016).
In conclusion, with the modern day technological advancements, new media mediums have increasingly become readily available for the presidential and various other kinds of campaigns. With reference to the 2016 US election campaigns, both the internet and social media platforms became the most effectively and extensively used new media mediums. Additionally, the effectiveness of the utilization of the new media was portrayed in the fact that the two most primary candidates, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump, in their campaigns eliminated the intermediary role of the traditional news and paper media. This, in essence, saw them taking advantage, of the latest technological advances to bring across messages and to directly communicate with the public, without the worry of having filtered by the press.
Dezelan, T., & Vobic, I. (2016). Revolutionizing Political Communication through Social Media. IGI Globa.
Green, R. K. (2016, November 16). The Game Changer: Social Media and the 2016 Presidential Election | The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/r-kay-green/the-game-changer-social-m_b_8568432.html
Patel, S. (2016, March 28). Breaking Down the Tactics and Tools the Presidential Candidates Are Using. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/272521
PewResearch. (2016, July 18). 2016 presidential candidates differ in their use of social media to connect with the public | Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2016/07/18/candidates-differ-in-their-use-of-social-media-to-connect-with-the-public/
Whang, A. S. (2016). Social Media and the Future of U.S. Presidential Campaigning (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Claremont McKenna College.
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