#ELECTION2016: A Look into the Presidential Candidates’ Social Behavior

Social media has played a significant (some might say…huge) role in the road to the Oval Office this election cycle. The presidential candidates have not shied away from expressing their opinions and connecting with voters via Twitter this year, and many of their social swipes at each other have dominated news cycles throughout the election. We recently dug into best practices for brands tapping into the election season. In the last week leading up to the election, we decided to take a look at the types of content the candidates were posting this year, what generated the most engagement, and what trends rose to the surface in the past 10 months. To perform this analysis, we used monitoring and engagement tools Brandwatch and True Social Metrics.


Content and commentary from the candidates remained relatively consistent throughout the first half of the year, with conversation spiking around key events (largely debates and conventions). Rallies and calls for donations from the candidates also contributed to spikes in chatter.



Clinton and Trump took very different social strategies when creating content on Twitter. Clinton focused on a mix of link, image, and text-only posts, while Trump’s strategy focused more heavily on text-only content to relay his messages.


The majority of Clinton’s tweets were link-based, often driving to her website. However, her followers were more likely to interact with videos or image-based content.


Trump’s content strategy had less influence on engagement on his page. He focused more heavily on text-based tweets, but saw relatively consistent engagement, regardless of post type.



Top content for both candidates were recognizable tweets throughout the election, often referenced by media and voters when discussing both Clinton and Trump. Interestingly enough, both candidates’ top tweets were related to one another, with Hillary telling Trump to delete his account and him responding in kind.


Clinton’s top performing content was more likely to be link-based, and focused heavily around the debates.


Trump’s top performing content was much more text-based, often commenting on Clinton’s emails or his own campaign. His tweet referencing Cinco de Mayo was one of his most heavily shared tweets of the campaign.



As we all know at this point, these candidates had A LOT to say. Clinton’s Twitter handle posted over 4.7K tweets in 2016, and Trump tweeted over 3.8K. Using Brandwatch, we identified trends in their conversation, as well as sentiment.


Hillary Clinton’s messaging on Twitter throughout her campaign was relatively consistent, primarily focusing on her experience, policy positioning, and the opposition.


In regards to sentiment, her tweets were heavily neutral. Postive tweets often included her campaign hashtags (including #ImWithHer and #LoveTrumpsHate). Negative tweets typically focused on Donald Trump and his policies, comments about women, and scandals.


Over time, Clinton’s messaging shifted away from policy and focused more significantly on negative views of her opponent, dicussion around the debates, and encouraging voter registration.



Compared to Clinton’s trends in conversation, Trump’s messaging was less consistent and touched on a wider variety of topics. He often utilized campaign messaging (“Make America Great Again”) and also focused heavily on his opponent.


Trump’s tweets also saw stronger sentiment attached to them, with nearly a quarter of his tweets garnering positive sentiment (often tweeting about himself, his campaign, and voters showing their support). Negative tweets very heavily focused on political opponents.


Over time, Trump’s messaging has also shifted pretty substantially. From initially focusing on Republican opponents and campaign stops earlier in the year, he has shifted to a more significant focus on Clinton, rallying for donations, and talking about a “rigged system.”


All in all, no one can say that this election cycle has been boring. The candidates have been on complete opposite ends of the spectrum from day one, and their social media strategy is no exception. From the types of content they have posted, to what they’ve been saying and when they’ve been saying it, both candidates have butted heads regularly. The one consistency in social activity between the two candidates is clear: they both like to talk about each other, and they both have clearly had a lot to say.

Ignite Social Media