Did Trump Have the Upper Hand?


In general, the internet has allowed our world to grow in terms of global communication tremendously.  Of all the social media platforms available today, Twitter is one of the most popular, especially amongst political candidates.  “In 2016, 44% of U.S. adults reported having learned about the 2016 presidential election in the past week from social media, outpacing both local and national print newspapers” (Pew Research Center, 2016).  In comparison to previous election years, this is a pretty significant change in the way our world is choosing to receive its information. For most “people, especially in the United States, social media is the easiest and most convenient way to receive news.  Social media seems to be a means of connecting in the hopes of receiving real information.  While this is not to indicate that all tweets and posts are inaccurate, the growth of social media is beginning to treat users more like an ‘audience’ instead of an inclusive group with opinions that are being addressed appropriately.  According to Shirky,  “growth in group size alone is enough to turn a community into an audience, social software, no matter what its design, will never be able to create a group that is both large and densely interconnected” (Shirky, 2002, p. 1).  We see this playing out in the world of Twitter.  So many people turn to this particular platform to receive any and all information, making it a very powerful source to users. Unfortunately, the more popular these types of social media sites become, the less personal they will feel to its users.  

Hamby addresses the issue of the lack of experience that political reporters now possess. It seems that more and more political candidates are turning to social media to make their mark on the public.  “More and more, the mainstream political press is being cut out of the election process, raising questions about the value of being a reporter” (Hamby, 2013, p. 5).  Interestingly enough, we saw this to be true in the most recent election.  While Clinton, Sanders, and Trump all had active social media accounts, Trumps were the most successful with the public.  While both Clinton and Sanders focused more on linking their followers back to their campaign pages, Trump focused moreso on connecting his followers to the news media online.  Essentially, he relied less on reporters and his campaign team and strived to direct his followers to material that was already floating around in the media that was available to him.  In the end, this gave Trump the upper hand in terms of retweets, comments, follows, and Facebook reactions. Could it be that the way Trump utilized social media was one of the main reasons he won the election?

Lastly, I want to address the way Trump handled the public in terms of social media. McGonigal states that “The economy of engagement is also an economy of feelings, in which positive emotions—pride, curiosity, love, and feeling smart—are the ultimate reward for participation” (2008, p. 16).  Trump played on these “feelings” as McGonigal states.  Over time, our world has been brainwashed to believe that money is the root of all motivation.  Of all people for this statement to fall on, it would be Donald Trump.  However, he proved us wrong in terms of the election. Of all the candidates, he was the one to engage with the public most.  He took the time (or maybe people he hired took the time, which would be ironic) to answer the public and post what they were saying.  He cared more about the people following him than his campaign.  Do you feel like his engagement with the public was sincere?  Did you notice that Trump seemed to be the most prominent presidential candidate on Twitter during election season?  


Candidates differ in their use of social media to connect with the public. (2016, July 18th). Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2016/07/18/candidates-differ-in-their-use-of-social-media-to-connect-with-the-public/


4 thoughts on “Did Trump Have the Upper Hand?

  1. Regardless of the sincerity of his actions, or as you pointed out if it was Trumps own doing or that of his staff, a part of his campaign made those connections with voters. Trumps use of technology, specifically Twitter, bridged the gap transforming his audience into a community of loyal supporters. Trump has over 16 million more followers than his leading competition, Hillary Clinton. His voice, opinions, views, etc. were broadcasted literally to voters hand held devices and personal computers.
    Before and after election behavior of candidates frequently changes. His “lack of activity” may be due to other unforeseen responsibilities of his position. I think history has shown candidates tend to make pledges and promises while trying to outshine their opponent. Throughout United States history, broken promises are nearly as common as kept.
    These new elements may play a larger role in future elections, allowing for more intimate communication between candidates and voters, as well as holding candidates accountable with their promises and statements.



  2. Trump’s Twitter usage (addiction) is one that may have, at first, been just a personal habit that carried over from his life as a television personality, but as the election was narrowed down to himself and Clinton, it became a tool. Now this tool may not have been very useful (in fact it was more harmful at times) to those that were on Twitter, but it did create an endless supply of coverage and buzz around Trump’s name. Any time he would tweet, it became a story, sometimes not a very good one but a story nonetheless. Because of the unique narrative used by Trump, and his very odd way of communicating via Twitter, his tweets became stories within themselves. I do believe that is was only a matter of time before we had presidents and presidential candidates that would be saturated in online mediums. It is just weird that it happened so quickly considering we have so many young politicians coming up and the guy that broke the tradition is a 70 year old man.


  3. I’m a huge advocate for taking our social media platforms from common hobbies to reputable sources. Above the nonsense that is passed around from retweet to retweet, social media has provided outlook and perspective on live in lives and current events in ways we’ve never imagined, yet we’re limited by our ability to connect beyond those of our shared ideals, illustrated like you said, with people handling conflicting views in less than graceful manor, our president being one of the main perpetrators of this social media sin. Do you think we can evolve past this, continuing to use social media as a political tool, but in a more peaceful measure? Loved your post!



  4. I believe that Trump;s Twitter usage was an obsession rather than a strategy, and he accidentally stumbled onto the effectiveness of social media with the help of his team. However, once they found the formula, they ran with it, and his ability to engage with the public led to his success. What I can appreciate about Twitter is that it allows individuals to get there own messages out without someone else filtering or beefing them up. Funny thing for Trump was that Clinton actually helped him get elected by using his name so often on Twitter.

    I currently use the internet and social media for the majority of the news I receive. Television continues to be relevant, but social media and the internet in general are the quickest ways of share information.

    Reporters continue to be relevant, but the way that news is gathered and reported will need to evolve with the technology and the community’s ‘appetite’.


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