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Donald Trump v. Hillary Clinton: Which Presidential Candidate Had the Stronger Social Media Strategy on Election Day?

By Jackie Homan, Marlena Ahearn, Erica Halverson, Lauren Witonsky, Jessica Mendelson, and Yuqi Zhang

In a time when nearly the entire nation is on social media in some way or another, especially millennials, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s social media presences likely made a difference in the 2016 Election. We took a look at both candidates’ social media channels on Election Day and assessed their platform strategy, content strategy, tone and voice, and the resonance of the campaign hashtags. At the end, we declare who really came out on top based on the best practices we’ve learned throughout the semester in COMM 400 social media class.



Trump’s wording seems powerful but less professional, using all caps, which comes across as shouting. He started Election Day morning by tweeting his classic slogan, “TODAY WE MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Thus, his message via Twitter seemed to be about getting his supporters riled up and excited.


Most of Clinton’s tweets from the day were to encouraging and informing people about voting, from encouraging people to sign up for volunteer shifts to talk to people, to finding their voting poll location site through her website. The wording in all of her tweets remained professional and encouraging while making people feel valued with wording like “It’s going to be close, and we need you on this team.”

Winner: Clinton

We find Hillary’s Twitter strategy to be stronger, because rather than just getting people riled up, she is doing more to make sure they actually know everything they need to know to vote. She communicated professionally to draw people in and make them feel connected and valued. She also retweeted endorsements from important political and famous figures, rather than just her own family (which we saw from Trump). This shows that more credible people are on her side and encourages voters to be on her side as well.



Trump’s strategy definitely appeals to a conservative audience, and seemed to be his hub for Election Day. Every time he won a state, he shared a graphic (sponsored by Fox Business News) thanking the state, a strong real-time content tactic. He also posted a lot of video captioned with “TODAY WE MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.”


Clinton’s strategy seemed to appeal to a millennial demographic, with a strong push for people to vote. She has been encouraging people to vote all day, with graphics that are visually appealing if shared. Even her profile picture is a GIF overlaid with timely copy, “Vote Today!” Many of her posts have a call to action, calling on people to vote or even volunteer to make calls on her behalf.

Winner: Clinton

Trump shared more across Facebook, whether that’s due to his greater following on the platform, or simply his candid statements. With the changing media landscape, content should be tailored to the platform, rather than being dumped there. After reviewing both party’s pages, it seems that Clinton has a much better understanding of how people are using Facebook. Her content is “shareable,” her posts are interactive, and her tone is approachable and appropriate for a social media site.



Up until 5 p.m. on Election Night, Donald Trump’s Instagram did not have any new posts, unlike Hillary’s strategy which began as soon as election day began. But at 5 p.m., six photos were posted —half of them reposts from his children’s own Instagram accounts. the others being election day propaganda.


Hillary’s strategy for Instagram was short and sweet: four posts throughout the span of the day with smart and simple pictures and captions were simple. We found this social media strategy struck all the right tones.

Winner: Clinton

Both candidates took the “less is more” approach. They both stuck to their core slogans and strategies. The urged the country to vote and made one last plug about what they stand for, being Stronger Together or making America Great Again. However, Hillary’s team seemed to have a stronger cadence and strategy, while  Trump’s posts made it seem like a content plan was an afterthought,so they just posted in a blitz last ditch effort to get content up there.



Trump tweeted more than Clinton and kept giving juicy speeches. He utilized his unique style full of negative words, which provoked follower emotion. He likes to talk about himself and give criticisms. Since people like to watch fights and hear mean words during the fight, Trump grabbed a lot of attention. He acts more like a film star rather than a presidential candidate, so his fans are more like idolaters.


For Clinton, she is pretty rigid and inflexible. She is like a professor assigning homework when doing social media. Her words in social media are educational and plain, so she is not as attractive as Trump’s performance. The way she encouraged people to vote is like a mother telling you to run the dishwasher. However, she is good at traditional media and has controlled it very well.

Winner: Trump



Trump’s most used hashtag to further is campaign is #VoteTrump. It’s clear and direct, including his name and a call to action. While direct and simple, it doesn’t have the same engagement nor reach that Clinton’s #ImWithHer does.


Across all social media, #ImWithHer is saturating timelines because both regular users and influencer/celebrities are sharing it.The hashtag is so strong because it is short but poignant — you’re either with her, or without her. Arguably, with another female candidate — Jill Stein — running for president, it had the potential to be confusing, but, because of the hashtag being intimately tied to Clinton’s campaign in it’s entirety, there is no guessing who the hashtag is for.

Winner: Clinton


Based off the above analysis of social media and the reach and usage of each candidate’s hashtags, Clinton clearly has a better grasp on engaging followers. She encourages sharing of her videos/tweets/etc and replies or interacts with followers. Her hashtag is very widely used and understood. The volume of posts with her hashtag announcing that they have voted for her is incredible, especially when comparing that to her Republican opponent Donald Trump’s social media engagement and community management online.

Winner: Clinton

FINAL ASSESSMENT who really won

Based off of the initial assessments of each social media platform, it is clear that Clinton would be the winner.  She has a clear brand message that stays consistent across various platforms. This is visible in the use of the hashtag #ImWithHer, which acted as the thread that bound her social media identity together. If we were to stop here, Clinton would be the winner.

However, after evaluating the content strategy of both candidates, Trump assumes victory.  Trump may have been inconsistent when it comes to cadence, the content itself, or even his reposting strategy, but he did stay consistent in his brand message of “Make America Great Again.” After going through the commentary on each social channel, certain phrases were highlighted from each candidate that stood out.  While Hillary’s overall takeaway message varied from #ImWithHer to “get out there and vote,” Trump almost always resulted with the message: Make America Great Again. This is what is comes down to in a world full of reality TV and unruly social media content: you’ve got to stand out with a solid POV and unique identity to truly be noticed. Trump stayed true to Trump.

Winner: Trump

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