5 Lessons We Can Learn From Donald Trump's Social Media Presence

Preeya Grewal
August 16, 2016

I’d like to make it clear that our office is a Trump-Free zone...most of the time.

What I mean is that a good part of our daily office banter is usually directed towards making fun of Trump’s latest tweet or inflammatory rhetoric. It's perfect 'watercooler' talk.

Although we’re terrified at the thought of him becoming President of the United States, there’s one department in which I have to hand it to the guy—his social media game is on point (with some exceptions)!

Before we continue, I should mention that we do not condone Donald Trump's scapegoating, race-baiting remarks over the course of the last few years. This post solely looks at how he's been utilizing social media.

In taking a gander through some of his latest tweets and social media tactics, I’ve come up with an (albeit embarrassing) list of lessons that we can learn from Donald Trump’s social media accounts.

I've even got some tips for you on how to be better at social, learning from what The Donald has done.

1. Authenticity ‘Trumps’ All

While it’s been reported that Donald Trump has had a few Digital Strategy advisors and social media employees, word is that HE is the sole person behind most of his own tweets (why am I not surprised?).

His lead Digital Strategist Justin McConney says Trump usually exercises his Twitter fingers in the evening, when most of his staff has left for the day. He knows his followers want pure, unadulterated Donald—and that’s what he gives them.

Consider this eye-opening detail spotted by Todd Vaziri:

You can tell who is tweeting based on trends of the device used! Trump's hyperbolic tweets come from The Donald via his Android. His more 'PC' tweets come from his staff via an iPhone. This is an incredible trend to pick up on.

Authenticity is great for brands on social media. How one is perceived is a huge motivating factor for the public. Many people now base their buying decision on their relationship with the brand, rather than their need for a specific product.

Let's Dissect Trump's Content

Even from within his tweets, you can see the true authenticity of Trump. He LOVES using exclamation marks. In the 10 tweets prior to August 16, 2016, 6 of them concluded with an exclamation mark. That actually reminded the ElementIQ team of this:

He loves ending his tweets with a one-word adjective like "Sad".

Sometimes he concludes his tweets with a multiple word reaction of what he says prior to it. Here's an example using 'Very dangerous!':

That said, even the most authentic and big brands should be consulting with experts to make sure their messaging is strategic and well thought-out. While Trump’s after-hours rants make for great headline-news stories the next day, heated Twitter rants likely won’t get you the type of publicity you’ll want.

In this regard, Trump is in a league of his own. Anything he does makes headlines thus getting him media coverage for free. Some would argue that this is a good thing for him, whether the headlines are positive or not.

2. Know Your Buyer Persona – Enraged Conservative Republicans

A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. In order to get the most out of your marketing dollars, you’ll want to know figure out who that customer base is and what they want.

In marketing, we talk about these buyer personas all the time. They form the basis of who you want to target with your strategy. For his presidential run, Donald Trump's henchmen did the same.

Trump’s advisors reported listening to thousands of hours of conservative talk radio to learn about the kinds of issues conservative voters were most worried about.

Trump has since been using this information about his buyer personas to inform his presidential campaign strategy. He capitalizes on their fears, aspirations and pain points by speaking directly to them. He amplifies the ‘dire consequences’ of these issues not being solved or dealt with.

Here is an example:

Having this kind of intel on your target market can be a tremendous benefit to your brand if you use the information the right way. In Trump’s case, we like how he acknowledges pain points such as fear of terrorism and his solutions (“I would hit them so hard...”)

Here’s the thing, though. If you’re going to be making promises you should make sure that you’re able to deliver or else you’re in for a big public relations nightmare.

For the sake of our southern neighbours, we hope we never have to find out if Trump is able to deliver all the things he’s promised so far during his presidential campaign.

3. Make Use Of A Variety Of Social Media Networks

Trump already had an online following before he joined the presidential election and is relatively popular on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. With his presidential campaign now in full-swing, you can now see Trump on Instagram, Vine, and Periscope—he used the latter to announce his candidacy for president!

Pushing his content out on so many different platforms not only reaps tremendous engagement, but it helps with brand recognition.

Here's his popular, yet controversial Facebook post on Cinco De Mayo:

Certain social media profiles resonate better with specific demographic groups. Okay, maybe not with Latino and Latina-Americans! Yet, Trump is not only hitting specific demographics within the conservative base but hitting them all at the right time. He's doing this by experimenting with a wide range of social networks during real-time events.

Here’s where he falls short though—he doesn’t stay active on all of these platforms.

Being active and posting relevant content on a variety of social media platforms generally result in better rankings, brand awareness, and more website traffic.

Now, Trump’s celebrity and the fact that he’s the Republican nominee for President will ensure that he achieves these things anyways.

However, for the up-and-coming marketer or entrepreneur, allowing your social pages to go stale after your initial update definitely won’t do you any favors.

4. Keep A Pulse On What's Trending

Donald Trump has admitted that he is not a politician...as if we needed any convincing! Now that he is playing the role of one, however, part of his social strategy has been to comment and live-tweet events.

Trump doesn’t just live-tweet political events like President Obama’s State of the Union speech, as you can see from above. He also shares his minute-by-minute thoughts on awards shows and television events like the Oscars, Celebrity Apprentice and an episode of Saturday Night Live that he was featured in.

We acknowledge Trump’s enthusiasm in being involved in these public events. While he certainly “shows up”, his commentary is often void of real facts. It's riddled with crass and hatred-filled rhetoric and this is definitely not an ideal or useful tactic for regular people.

So, we say go ahead and participate in public conversations about world events. It gives you a chance to reach many people at once. In some cases, it can make you become a thought leader on trending conversations.

Just remember to keep your comments factual! Plus, avoid being a bigoted, racist bully and you should be fine!

5. Eye On The Competition – 'Crooked Hillary' And 'Lyin' Ted'

‘The Donald’ is in the loop with what his political opponents are doing and he uses this information to hit them where it hurts.

He gives them unappealing nicknames based on their personalities, media stories and political agendas.

“Crooked” Hillary Clinton got her moniker as a result of the FBI probe into her emails and questions about donors to her foundation.

Trump bestowed the nickname “Little” Marco Rubio upon Rubio in an attempt to, obviously, belittle him and Ted Cruz was given the name “Lyin” Ted Cruz during an argument at the Republican debate because Ted Cruz was allegedly untruthful.

While having competition intelligence can do you wonders for your own brand, we don’t condone bullying or mocking your competitors.

Recently, Michelle Obama delivered a very powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention in which she said:
"The issues a president faces are not black and white, and cannot be boiled down into 140 characters.”

While Obama never mentions his name, we know that this is a criticism of Donald Trump and his use of social media, specifically his habit of tweeting his opinions about complex and delicate subject matter.

Given her eloquent and clever verbiage, we are able to determine exactly who and what it is she’s talking about without the use of any insults or low blows on her part.

What this took:

  • A good copywriter (or speechwriter)
  • Some creativity
  • A thorough review of your competition and the strategies they employ

This can help you identify and display your own opportunities. You can then share your unique selling points (USPs) without explicitly exploiting your competition’s weaknesses.

The Numbers Don’t Lie – Donald Trump Is Making An Impact, Good Or Bad

Trump’s social media follower count:

And while we don’t mind giving this presidential hopeful some props, we wouldn’t advise anyone to mimic his actions completely!

Tempestuous tweets and outbursts work for “The Donald”, but like we said earlier, he’s a special case.

For the average marketer, a social media campaign’s end goal should not just be just the amount of social shares and press you garner.

If you execute your social campaign based on truthfulness and authenticity, you'll connect well with the audience you desire to.

With a thorough analysis of the buyer persona you're targeting, as Trump did so well, you'll discover the social channels that evoke trust and resonate with the people who you’ve set out to engage with.

Thanks for reading. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below! What's your take on Donald Trump's use of social media marketing?

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