Presidential Candidates Use Social Media for Political Gain

Presidential candidates use social media to generate political momentum. Candidates from both parties in the 2016 election have turned to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for aid in the fight for the White House. Here is a look at how successfully the major presidential candidates use social media to spread their political views:


Trump: 5,632,823 page likes

Carson: 5,060,265 page likes

Sanders: 3,029,585 page likes

Clinton: 2,412,351 page likes

Cruz: 1,878,542 page likes

Rubio: 1,268,352 page likes

Fiorina: 551,480 page likes

Bush: 325,125 page likes

Kasich: 163,634 page likes

Christie: 152,241 page likes

How are presidential candidates using Facebook to further brand identity? Well, unlike his opponents, Donald Trump’s Facebook videos are direct-to-camera pieces, in which he addresses viewers from his desk with brief yet heated messages on campaign issues. Three days after the November terror attacks in Paris, Trump uploaded an 11-second-long unedited video, in which he touched on his stance on immigration. Because of the increase in social media use following the terrorist attacks, this video was able to generate significant engagement.

Another video with notably high engagement was posted by Ben Carson on November 11. The 42-second-long video included Carson’s closing statement from the debate held the night before, which mentioned drug-related deaths, national debt, abortion and veteran suicides. He was able to connect with a variety of demographics with the last sentence of his statement, in which he touched on American patriotism and its need over political correctness.


Trump: 6.09 million followers

Clinton: 5.34 million followers

Sanders: 1.39 million followers

Rubio: 1.15 million followers

Carson: 1.13 million followers

Cruz: 800 thousand followers

Fiorina: 662 thousand followers

Bush: 454 thousand followers

Kasich: 160 thousand followers

Christie: 95.5 thousand followers

Presidential candidates use social media to target and oppose their competition, particularly on Twitter. “You can be a moderate,” Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted. “You can be a progressive. But you cannot be a moderate and a progressive.” With this tweet, Sanders criticized Clinton’s more “moderate” stances. Clinton’s campaign was quick to respond:

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Republican candidates also had a Twitter war on Wednesday. Trump tweeted, “Tred Cruz didn’t win Iowa, he illegally stole it.” He later deleted the tweet and removed the word “illegally” before reposting it. Cruz hit back by saying Trump is “losing it” and suggested that Trump is throwing a “Trumpertantrum.”


Trump: 958 thousand followers

Clinton: 786 thousand followers

Sanders: 723 thousand followers

Carson: 259 thousand followers

Cruz: 81.7 thousand followers

Rubio: 79.1 thousand followers

Bush: 52 thousand followers

Kasich: 11.1 thousand followers

Christie: 26 thousand followers

Fiorina: none

Candidates use social media to connect and engage with voters. However, Instagram is not like the other major networks. According to Hootsuite, a social media management dashboard, elements of an effective Instagram strategy include great photos, original ideas and images, consistent content, an authentic expression of brand identity, and real engagement with followers. Although Trump has the greatest following, Hootsuite ranked Clinton as first on Instagram based on the five elements mentioned. For photo quality, Clinton scored 25 out of 30, 17 out of 20 for originality, 18 out of 20 for engagement, 14 out of 15 for authenticity, and 11 out of 15 for consistency. Clinton’s Instagram is youth-oriented, and the demographic she’s targeting through the platform is apparent with posts such as a selfie with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West:

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Additionally, Hootsuite ranks Sanders’ Instagram as one of the more sophisticated profiles. Sanders’ strategy is to make his followers feel as if his posts are personally directed at them. This allows his fans to feel as if their actually with him on the campaign trail. Meanwhile, Trump’s Instagram profile seems to lack professionalism. However, he had high scores in originality and authenticity.