Each time the leading candidates for America’s next presidency spoke during a presidential debate, political fans and energized voters were quick to share their vast opinions (and insults) on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. In fact, ever since the Obama election win, much of today’s political discourse starts on social media. This time around, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump used their social media platforms to their advantage by speaking and engaging with the public. However, it was most often their supporters and large social media influencers who shaped the perceptions of the public.
Newspapers, media outlets, and politicians can capture online election conversations with social media analytics in order to tailor content to the issues that matter the most to social media users. They can also dive into conversations to analyze who is participating in these conversations and rank the most influential users, a vital tool preceding an election. Never before has a “like,” hashtag, Instagram photo, retweet or any other online social media activity been so influential in shaping the outcome of an election. In fact, the Clinton and Trump campaigns expanded on the power of social media Obama’s team showcased eight years ago, by going beyond the people who regularly use social media and influencing traditional media by reacting to, or creating, newsworthy social content that made the top news.
While Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, dismissed the notion that Facebook had any influence over Tuesday’s outcome, post-election we aren’t convinced that the numerous posts made about Donald Trump or how Hillary Clinton spoke of her supporters in “secret Facebook groups” did not influence the election. From the first presidential debate in September until the hour President Trump was sworn into office, a staggering billion-plus election-related posts raced across various social media networks.
While Retweets help Twitter users increase potential impressions, determining a person’s influence on the conversation requires more complex analysis. For this reason, New Politico provides statistics on the Most Influential Twitter Authors by conducting an analysis to rank Twitter authors by assigning them a value from 1 to 100 by measuring Twitter users’ social media networks, content, and interaction with other users. Within the election conversation the top influencers include newspapers like The New York Times. These insights are especially useful when building a campaign, whether it be for a brand or a midterm election. Knowing who is influencing the conversation puts you one step closer to determining how to influence the conversation.