The Importance of Being Earnest: Social Media as a Window rather than a Reflection

The Hillary Clinton for President Campaign had a clear and defined new media approach across several social media platforms. Much like the candidate, the approach was organized, polished, well run, and ultimately, unsuccessful.

The Facebook and Twitter accounts for the candidate both followed a predictable and reliable pattern of one Pro-Hillary positive post followed by an Anti-Trump negative post. Even as posts increased on her Facebook account, they still adhered to the one to one ratio.


Passion on the Clinton side was lacking in comparison to that of Barack Obama in 2012, and especially in 2008. Passion for their candidate was an advantage Trump pridefully exulted repeatedly. The passion for Trump however, was not as strong as the hatred of Hillary. This hatred has been documented in these blog posts, but all someone has to do is google “Hillary Clinton” and go to the comment section of any post on any medium or site and will immediately encounter this hatred.

President Elect Donald Trump’s campaign  also reflected the Candidate in the sense that its use of new media was erratic and primarily negative, especially on Twitter. This unpredictability lead to reports that Donald Trump’s Twitter account was taken away from him by campaign staff in the days leading up to election. This seemed confirmed when the world was blissfully free of Trumpian 3AM Twitter rants for a few days. However, this unpredictability and coarseness is what many of his supporters cited as reasons they supported him: it felt real. It was not disqualifying that he couldn’t be trusted to tweet responsibly, it was an asset that made his supporters comfortable endowing Trump with the nation’s largest megaphone, the Bully Pulpit, truly redefining its meaning.


There may be more to this than just bitter glibness. The main knock on Hillary Clinton is that she’s fake. She’s fake about her stances on issues, fake about her motives, and fake in her demeanor. For all the talk that Donald Trump will run the country as a business, Hillary Clinton was the one who ran her social media in the vein of a company with a good PR firm. Donald Trump tweeted random thoughts about anything:


and anyone:


at anytime:

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regardless of domestic or international repercussions:


and seemingly with little thought or consideration of emotions:


but that lead people to feel at least his online presence was “real.”

Message discipline has long been a cornerstone of successful political campaigns, but this campaign season may shown that while that may still remain true for old media, it is no longer the case in new media. It is difficult to believe Secretary Clinton’s personal accounts were at any point operated or updated by the candidate herself whereas there is little suspicion Donald Trump’s tweets came from staffers and not the man himself (so much so that it is difficult to discern fake “joke” tweets created online from the actual ones).


It is hard to fault a political candidate for organization, discipline, and consideration of the weight and ramifications of their words. However, the same communications strategy applied evenly across all social media platforms reinforced the negative caricature of Hillary Clinton as produced and disingenuous.

In hindsight, had Secretary Clinton ran her own Twitter account herself, even if her tweets were as asinine as “Corgis are the cutest!” or as rude as “Ted Cruz looks like a Batman Villain,” it would have used the medium powerfully by providing an insight into her personality. Despite decades in the public eye, many voters were still left wondering who she was. The old adage of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” can arguably be adjusted to “there’s no such thing as bad tweets,” in so far as the tweet inspires likability to some, humanization of the candidate over all, and accessibility to the actual person, seeming regardless to if that person is terrible.


One thought on “The Importance of Being Earnest: Social Media as a Window rather than a Reflection

  1. […] Clearly, the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign was a primary affecter of the social media conversation concerning her candidacy (#ImWithHer, #StrongerTogether), as was certainly the Trump Campaign (#LockHerUp, #Killary, #Benghazi, #HillaryForPrison, etc). Surprisingly, unlike in past elections (2004 and Swift Vets and POWs for Truth) 527s and SuperPACs did not seem to do much to engage in the conversation. Unless, of course, some of these SuperPACs spent their money employing internet trolls to leave comments on Clinton social media. […]


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