Social media’s unprecedented role in #DebateNight

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debate-926-hrc-trump-feed-cover-1400x600While social media played a role in both the 2008 and 2012 elections, the influence of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in previous election cycles pales in comparison to this year.

Social media makes for a great unofficial battleground, with the candidates both trading blows.

Candidates now, more than ever, are bypassing traditional media and engaging with voters directly. Donald Trump even launched a national ‘Crooked Hillary’ campaign and filter on Snapchat.

Well over 80 million people watched Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off on television, setting a new record in the sixty year history of televised presidential debates. According to Nielsen, the debate averaged a total of 84 million viewers across 13 of the TV channels that carried it live in the U.S. This beats the previous record for a presidential debate held by Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan back in 1980. While it didn’t reach some predictions of 100 million (making it Super Bowl worthy), it was certainly a big audience.

Both candidates were very active on social media leading into the debate, and throughout it used platforms, especially Twitter, to push out key messages. Twitter streamed the debate live and it was the most tweeted debate ever.

But which candidate won over Twitter? According to the social media monitoring tool Brandwatch, neither of them. Both had more negative than positive mentions. In fact, the night’s big Twitter winner wasn’t a presidential candidate, but a hip hop star.

@chancetherapper tweeted’ Dear God, the words law & order shouldn’t strike so much fear in my heart as a law abiding citizen but I am so damn scared of Donald Trump’ which generated 58.5k retweets and 115k likes.

If you want to check out more tweets from the event, you can as Wired have collected some of the best tweets here.

Aside from Ms Clinton, Mr Trump and Chance the Rapper, the Twitter handles with the most debate-related mentions included moderator Lester Holt of NBC, Fox News and the fact-checking site Politifact.

It is also fascinating to watch how companies and individuals responded to mentions during the debate. Take Ford for example, who Trump singled out by saying “Ford is leaving,” Ford quickly took to Twitter to tweet to its own defence.

Sean Hannity, Alicia Machado and Rosie O’Donnell all got specific mentions during the debate and used Twitter to respond. Rosie calling Donald “an orange anus”.

In the past, companies, brands and people referenced in a debate had minimal opportunities to defend themselves — at least in a timely fashion. Not anymore. Can’t wait for the next two debates.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

And, in case you haven’t seen it – Will & Grace are back:

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