Tweeting to Triumph: How the candidates should be winning votes in 140 characters

If social media traction was an accurate predictor of election outcomes, then Donald Trump will be elected president this November – and by a wide margin. He has amassed 14 million followers across social media platforms and even his worst-performing tweets rack up over 2,000 retweets.

But because numbers only tell one part of the story, we’ve dissected each campaign’s Twitter strategy – or lack thereof:

@HillaryClinton:  A well-oiled machine
From the about description that leads with “wife, mom, grandma” then mixes in “hair icon and pantsuit aficionado” to the mix of content, everything about Hillary Clinton’s Twitter account seems to be well thought out and balanced. Consider this 24-hour sample size: a tweet in Spanish is soon followed by a funny gif, then the tone turns serious with a message on climate change before the day concludes with a produced video of African-American mothers who have lost their sons to gun violence. In one day, Clinton’s campaign has used every piece of media in their arsenal, has hit multiple target audiences – Hispanics, millennials, liberals, African-Americans and mothers – and has published at peak Twitter hours. Hillary takes campaigning via Twitter to a new level.

@BernieSanders and @SenSanders: Just the meat

Bernie Sanders makes his Twitter fans choose between following Bernie, the man, or Bernie, the campaign. Social media best practices dictate that this sort of separation can be confusing, but with an identical 1.6 million following on each account it seems most people are happy to follow Double Bernies. Rather than using the accounts to send different messages, the two handles instead mimic each other.  On @SenSanders – the personal account – Bernie masters the 140 character limit with constant one liners and campaign messages.  No photos, no videos, no hashtags, no fuss.  The campaign account mixes in a video, a tweet in Spanish and a photo here and there but stays true to Sanders’ approach to serving up red meat.

@realDonaldTrump: Exactly what you’d expect 

Take your Twitter for Dummies book and burn it (Bern it?), because none of the rules apply when it comes to The Donald. Tweets lead with hashtags and those hashtags can change faster than his mood. Videos are infrequent and come in the form of TV campaign ads. Images (which Trump may have created himself) are few and far between. What is frequent are the jabs at other candidates and insults lobbed at the media. His Twitter account is a manifestation of Trump – an extension of the brand – it’s 100% unequivocally Trump. Criticize as you may, Trump’s maverick style works: his accessibility has turned him into a Twitter phenom. 

@marcorubio: A campaign trail documentary

Do you wonder what Marco Rubio has been up this week and really want to donate to his campaign? If so, his Twitter account is waiting for you! A debate clip, a photo from a rally, a request for a $5 donation, a quote from a debate, a retweeted photo of a campaign office…it’s all there, and it’s done fairly well. Rubio’s use of Twitter as a fundraising tool is admirable, but multiple solicitations in less than twenty-four hours begins to look desperate. Rubio may want to take the foot off the gas when it comes to passing the hat and instead work on weaving some Spanish-language content into the mix.

@tedcruz: Just retweet

If people stopped tweeting about Ted Cruz, this account would be dormant.  There is no strategy and no original content, perhaps that’s why he hasn’t broken the 1 million follower mark…