Donald Trump has a lengthy and diverse business background. He started at his families’ real estate company where he lead his first successful building transformation. Post college he continued in the building and real estate business. He bought old run down hotels and apartment complexes to renovate then sell. With his success growing so too did his financial gambles on projects. The 1988 purchase of the Taj Mahal Casino would lead him to filing business bankruptcy in 1991. He quickly negotiated his way out of the red and by the end of the 1990’s was back to building in the black (bio.com). In 2001 his famous Trump World Tower was built which demonstrated his climb back to the top. Trump built onto his real estate success to branching into more streams of revenue including restaurants, traveling website, magazines, home furniture, games and vodka to name a few. Trump has broadened out into a very diverse business plan. With this move he has gained even more brand recognition. In 1996 he even took over the beauty pageant world by becoming part owner of Miss Universe and Miss USA (bio.com). Donald Trump has become a household name. When his show The Apprentice went on air it was a smashing success. NBC has paid him over 200 million dollars for the 14 seasons. Trump even filed to trade mark “You’re Fired” as his catch phrase. In February of 2015 NBC wanted to sign for a 15th season but Trump turned them down due to the possibility of him running for president at the time (bio.com). From his famed hair style to his personal life, nothing about Trump does not gain attention.
Trump has a long history of donating to political parties and being public about his political opinions. His first attempt at a political seat was in 2000 as a presidential candidate for the Reform Party. Many speculated that this was a publicity attempt due to his outlandish remarks, such as when he mentioned having Oprah Winfrey be his running mate for Vice President. In February 2000 Trump announced that he was dropping out of the race and bashed the political system on his way out (Chaggaris and Condon). Trump gained a larger political voice during Obama’s 2008 election and 2011 re-election. Trump questioned the legitimacy of Obama every step of the way and was proud when Obama had to defend himself. He has proved to be an effective political heckler. Other political issues he chose to heckle were climate change and if vaccinations cause autism. For a businessman he certainly made waves in the political world with his public heckling of anything he sets his sights on.
The ultimate goal for Trump would be to win the presidential election. His social media goals would culminate into this big win for him. In the short term he needs to win the Republican party nomination. To achieve these political party goals he must accomplish social media goals. Throughout his channels he seems to have three large social media goals. The first is to come off as authentic to gain rapport with his followers. The second goal is to push his platforms to educate possible voters on his is strength. The third and most notable goal is to poke fun at his opponents and while doing so bring more media attention to his social media (SM) campaign.
While Trump is active on many social media channels the one is he most famed for is Twitter. Since 2013 he has been tweeting twice a day or more (Schreckinger). “Today, Trump, who functions as his own communications strategist, is an avid user of Twitter. He takes occasional tweet suggestions from those around him but composes most himself…” (Schreckinger). This platform has allowed him to post the sort of witty remarks he became famous for on the Apprentice. Fans tweet at him in hopes of being selected by Trump to get retweeted. Below is a strength, weakness, opportunities and threat (SWOT) Analysis of Trump’s Twitter account:
Campaign Roll Out
Instagram has been used to help with all three of Trump’s SM goals on Instagram. He is able to post behind the scene pictures at events. These are often used to help show a more human side of him, for example when he posts a throw back Thursday picture from when he was a child. Although the picture was meant to show his open side, some of the comments were a bit aggressive. They saw the weakness in his more natural post and started name calling. In SM trolls are just part of the game and Trump has years of experience dealing with them. Most often on Instagram he ignores the troll like comments on his pictures. McConney, the man behind Trump’s SM, had suggested the use of Instagram videos for political messages. Trump has taken that idea to heart and you can find lots of videos on his page where he is sitting at his desk speaking about an issue. He is using these short and direct videos to push his running platforms. The videos have also been used to poke fun at his competitors. Trump has made Jeb Bush the subject of many short videos focusing on why he is not the right choice for president. With 503 thousand followers on his channel these videos get a lot of views. He increases his coverage by linking to hashtags so users outside of his followers can view them. Trump has realized the affordance of this channel and has utilized it to help push his goals along: short and funny videos to poke fun at others, behind the scene photos to be authentic, and images and videos to display his platforms are all important to his account.
Trump’s Facebook account has over four million likes; creating a massive channel to reach out to supporters. Many of his quick status updates and media are viewable on Twitter or Instagram. His profile picture is the exact same across all the mediums. This is helpful for fans trying to find his account among the myriad of fake profiles. Recently on Facebook (FB) Trump has started to push the sales of his book Crippled America. Facebook is a great medium to publicize such a product. FB provides a medium that users can interact with more. Followers can tag friends in the comments to let them know about the post. They can share it with friends or they themselves can comment about the book coming out. His main post about the book got over twenty-six hundred comments and eighteen hundred shares. Of these comments many seem positive and upbeat. In contrast Instagram’s comments on the book release were very inappropriate.
It took quite a bit of effort to find an example of comments that did not include horrible language or vulgar descriptions of acts. This could be part of the Instagram medium as it has less control on what people comment. FB on the other hand as an affordance allows viewers to more easily report and remove such trashy comments.
Youtube is still a relevant medium that Trump uses but in the past four months it has seen a reduced rate of content uploaded. The newest video is five months old and is about Trump Golf Links opening. Two year old famed “From The Desk of Donald Trump” videos can be found there. McConney is said to be the brains behind these short clips (Schreckinger). Many of the videos are about or starring Ivanka Trump. This switch in star of the videos is unclear. It could be extrapolated that this change is what has lead to his account being at a small thirty-eight thousand followers. One of the many affordances of Youtube is the ability to upload tons of content. Trump has not used this mass storage
Trump’s Twitter account might as well be its own social media company. It has a life of its own that might even give the real Trump a run for his money. He has 4.78 million followers on his account and 29.1 thousand tweets. Shockingly, he only follows forty seven users. These include all his Trump businesses, politicians, Shawn Johnson the Olympian, Steven Tyler and members of his family to name a few. The followers he has built up are warriors for him on the SM front. They help push content for him and aid in each one of his tweets going further than what other politicians tweets can.
“On Twitter, Mr. Trump has assembled an online SWAT team of devoted (some say rabid) supporters who spring into action with stunning speed. In a pattern that has played out over and over, he makes a provocative remark, like one about Mrs. Fiorina’s face — “Would anybody vote for that?’’ — and hundreds of thousands of strangers defend him, spread his message and engage in emotional debates with his critics, all the while ensuring he remains the subject of a constant conversation.” (Barbaro)
Twitter has a very social network of individuals and this has been a strength for Trump. He rewards such behavior by retweeting certain posts and tweeting at others. His following is that of a celebrity and not just a candidate. Other candidates have a SM team working for them. Trump has not only McConney but a volunteer army on Twitter.
In the SWOT analysis it was brought up that a weakness is that nothing can truly be deleted. Trump has grown famous for using this medium’s lack of true delete to gain more fame. “On deleting tweets: ‘One of the things I do find is that when you delete it, it becomes a bigger story than having it” (Barbaro). He has taken a weakness and turned it into a strength in many situations. Celebrities often have the famous mindset that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Even after Trump retweeted a fans picture that had Jeb Bush and a Nazi flag, he seemed unscathed. The tweet got deleted but not before many media outlets had grabbed a screen shot to post about. Due to it being deleted, people had to now search for it. This led to Trump taking over Google for a short time as a hit item to search for. Trump took a negative affordance of the medium and turned it into a positive affordance.
During the democratic debate Twitter lit up with tweets from Trump. He live tweeted the whole event much to the joy of his followers.
He used this as a chance to push his platform and of course ridicule his opponents. In Trump fashion, he retweeted some of his favorite tweets from fans. This sort of engagement with followers is a key trait in his SM plan. Scrolling through his Twitter account it is clear to see that he does not skimp on the number of retweets. By doing this he makes his fans feel heard, appreciated and builds a relationship with them. Trump is by all accounts a famous person and to have him retweet your post is a big deal to many. He understands this powerful tool and uses it to his advantage without exposing himself when they are inflammatory.
He at one point decided to use a hashtag to create more engagement with the Twitter world. This plan though was very quickly taken over by trolls. “More than 50,000 tweets with #AskTrump hashtag appeared within six hours. While some of those were about U.S. politics and the upcoming elections, most were sarcastic takes on Trump’s personality.” (Mukhopadhyay). Troll posts or not fifty thousand tweets is an astonishing number for Twitter engagement in a matter of hours. One of Twitters big affordances is the use of hashtags in a post. Trump saw the value in starting a hashtag campaign and for better or worse it worked out. It got eyeballs to see the hashtag and some of the posts.
Within the Republican party Trump is leading the field in all Twitter analytics. Dmscott created a chart based. Twitter statistics of how the party members stack up with each other. If you take the Twitter chart and compare it to the results of a recent political poll chart there are some similarities. Trump for all his fame on Twitter is getting real life poll votes. Carson is only in the top four on Twitter but polling relatively close to Trump. While it is impossible to know if Twitter analytics can predict the outcome of an election, currently they are close to polling numbers.
Comparing social media teams is interesting. It has been mentioned that Trump likes posting his own tweets and is only advised by his team that McConney heads up. Bernie Sanders for example has hired a top notch social media team to help him. Four of its members helped Obama’s 2008 campaign revolutionize political social media campaigns. These member are “Scott Goodstein, who ran Obama’s social media efforts; Shauna Daly, who was deputy research director for the campaign; Arun Chaudhary, who ultimately became the first official White House videographer; and Walker Hamilton, the site architect for Obama’s campaign” (Topaz and Glueck). Trump is fighting the battle without as much expert guidance as his competition. This is reflected in the messages posted. Comparing their twitter feeds from around the same time, there is a clear difference. Trump wants to promote his new book. Bernie on the other hand is promoting his platform. Trump retweeted many positive tweets from his fans. As mentioned this is a social media strategy but it gives an almost spam feel to his feed. Followers have to scroll past all the retweets to find original content. Bernie may not have as much engagement by retweeting but his feed is easier to understand from the perspective of finding his platform. Trump has a more organic feel to his content because it is often spur of the moment thoughts or insults. The other candidates have a more controlled feel to their messages. None of Bernie’s recent tweets were made up of insults or shallow comments. The sheer volume of likes on Trump’s mean posts are meaningful. His fan base maybe driven by different motives than other political party leaders but they are highly driven nonetheless.
Measurement of Success:
The end goal of this campaign is still yet to be proven successful. To measure the success of the micro goals the DATA (define, assess, track and adjust) must first be examined. His three main social media goals, the micro goals, were to be authentic, push his platform and to poke fun at his challengers. These three define what his campaign is about. Within defining there is motivating, influencing and accomplishing. His ultimate goal would be to motivate his followers to vote for him. Trump’s immediate goals would rely around getting followers, having followers share his content and creating hype around his brand. He influences his followers to take these actions by retweeting them and posting popular fodder. His followers respond to the mean jokes and very conservative comments. Trump in response provides his followers with more of the same content that they respond well towards.
The next three steps in the DATA analysis are assess, track and adjust. Social media is free but paying a team to keep it up is not. It is not published what Trump spends on social media marketing. The charts, below, will go over the tracked popularity of Trump’s Twitter account.
His continue gain in followers shows that his posts are still proving to be effective. Over the course of this assignment no large scale adjustments have been made to his Twitter account. The reason for the focus of analytics on his Twitter is due to it being his preferred form of communication with his fans. His content from other SM accounts is either from Twitter or a tweet with a link to another SM account. This centralizes his posts to Twitter and makes it easy for followers to get all his media on one medium.
Forbes released an article in August that showed statistics on Trump’s Twitter followers. They found out that less than 40% of his followers can vote for him in the election (Tracy). His demographic on Twitter is made up youths, under eighteen, and individuals that reside outside of the United States. This statistic does not infringe upon his micro goal but it does effect his macro goal of using followers to build a voter population to help him win the election. Due to this demographic being unable to get him his macro goal, it could be extrapolated that the campaign has not been successful thus far. He has until next November to rally his followers and get the voter turn out. Unless he adjusts his plan, it does not look likely that he can add a significant number of voting eligible followers.
Social Mention shows that he has an average of sixteen seconds between mentions and a 80% strength. Even if his demographics on Twitter are not heavy with voters, his campaign is still reaching the masses. This means that his micro SM goals are still being met. Trump’s hashtag #Trump2016 from Social Mention demonstrates a 93% strength. On Instagram the hashtag has over thirty-five thousand posts to it. Trump himself uses the hashtag on all his SM sites. This aids him in getting users to rally behind one hashtag. Tracking the number of users using the hashtag is a way to keep tabs on the engagement of his campaign. Trump also uses different hashtags, for example #demdebates, for certain events. These would be prime hashtags to also collect statistics off of for engagement.
Trump has built an empire in the business world and is now building a SM empire. His posts are as close to chaos as one can get. Even with McConney heading his SM it often seems Trump sticks to no plan. Other candidates use social media to come off as wise political choices for voters to pick. Trump often seems more like the Kim Kardashian of the political world. His posts are written to cause drama and get noticed for reasons outside of politics. Trump’s Twitter population may be made up of users who can note vote him into office but that has not slowed his SM campaign’s pace. Regardless of if he wins in 2016, Trump has built up his social media empire to be one of great dedication and volume.