Social Media and the 2016 Election

Did you know that last Monday evening’s presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump wasthe most tweeted debate ever,” according to Twitter?

Social media is revolutionizing the way our political candidates interact with voters. The mainstream media has both blamed social media for “ruining our politics,” and heralded it “the game changer” in the 2016 election…USA Today even declared social media the winner of last week’s debate.

All of which goes to show how much social influence you can have on policy issues in your own social media feeds.

Some hashtags used for the debates were #Election2016, #Elections, #potus, #president, #Trump, #Clinton and #debates.

Here’s a quick overview of social media reactions to the debate and how the two most popular social media platforms, Twitter and Facebook, are shaping the election.


2008 was called “The Facebook Election,” but Twitter has quickly become “the platform of choice for pile-ons of partisans, defiant nonpartisans, and self-appointed referees,” according to the New Yorker. “Twitter emerged early as the ring in which the debate narrative would be wrestled out and judged.”


Source: AP

On the debate:

  • Tweets about Donald Trump were nearly double Twitter mentions of Hillary Clinton. CNBC reports, “The measure includes the number of people tweeting about either candidate’s names or Twitter handles. @realDonaldTrump got 62 percent of the mentions, compared to @HillaryClinton‘s 38 percent.”



For the first time, Facebook live-streamed the debate.

Politico reports that “Some 18.6 million people on Facebook in the United States generated 73.8 million likes, posts, comments and shares related to the debate. The top issues discussed were taxes, the Islamic State, racial issues, the economy, and crime and criminal justice. Trump dominated the conversation on Facebook, taking 79 percent to Clinton’s 21 percent.”

According to USA Today, Facebook and Twitter are “competing head-to-head for live video viewership, each clinching deals to stream all three hotly anticipated presidential debates and the vice presidential debate for free. Their goal: to get people to turn off their televisions and talk while they watch the debates on social media.”

Other platforms

This election cycle candidates are also increasingly harnessing other social media platforms to reach a wider audience. Hillary Clinton frequently uses Instagram to connect with supporters. Other candidates also posted on Instagram while on the campaign trail,  some taking “selfies” with supporters. Last year, Trump notably used Instagram as a vehicle to run videos critical of Jeb Bush. Last week, timed for the debate, Trump’s campaign launched a new filter on the millennial favorite, Snapchat. The filter, which featured a banner with Trump’s campaign slogan and the title “Debate Day: Donald J. Trump vs. Crooked Hillary,” was the “first sponsored political filter available nationwide.”

Whether you’re on Facebook or Twitter or another form of social media, get engaged and make your voice heard!