No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, if you want to win a seat to elected office in modern times you best have a strong social media game. In 2016, now President Donald Trump went so far as to credit his savvy use of social media with having helped his campaign defeat Hillary Clinton. Clinton, whom despite having a long career in politics and having outraised the then billionaire from New York, lost the race. Her social media game was also not as strong as Trump’s.
Fast forward to 2020, and the social media landscape has continued to evolve and become a crucial element for any campaign hoping to win in November. In turn, many of those seeking office, on both sides of the aisle, are working overtime to use social media as a tool to give them an edge during or heading into an election.
We’ve put together a list of the top five politicians, and those who want to be one, who we think are using social media in new and innovative ways that are worth paying attention to. In short, they’re changing the political social media game so don’t be surprised if you see others attempting to replicate what they’re doing.
To be clear, this list is not an endorsement of any candidate or member of elected office. If you don’t have the emotional capacity to see the names of people you don’t like and/or agree with in writing, it’s probably best you stop reading here, this list is not for you.
Still with me? Enjoy!
5. Andrew Yang
Who they are: Former Democratic candidate for President.
Why they’re on the list: Andrew Yang dropped out of the presidential race shortly after the New Hampshire primary. And while he clearly didn’t make it to the finish line, his impressive fundraising and following, affectionately known as the “Yang gang”, was all made possible due to the power of social media.
It’s also worth noting Yang follows our Chief Creative Officer Josh Scheinblum on Twitter which is always a sign of a social media genius.
How they’re changing the game: Despite being a political newcomer, Yang quickly saw his political stock rise after appearing on Joe Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. The podcast has a cult following and is heard by millions on social media.
While Rogan is seen as a political influencer now – having received attention for strongly insinuating he would support Bernie Sanders and subsequently Donald Trump in their presidential bids – Yang was among the first to use the podcast to propel himself to political stardom. The interview Yang did with Rogan put his message in front of millions of folks who had never heard of him before.
And while it has been months since Yang suspended his campaign, he has not let up in his efforts to increase his social media engagement. Most notably, Yang has started a podcast of his own, called “Yang Speaks”, which has produced content the former presidential candidate has used across a wide range of social media platforms. Don’t be surprised if Yang uses his newfound social media strategy to launch himself once again into a shot at a political career.
4. Lauren Boebert
Who they are: Republican candidate running for Colorado’s 3rd congressional district.
Why they’re on the list: Lauren Boebert challenged and defeated five term incumbent Representative Scott Tipton in the Republican primary. She used social media to rally supporters launching her campaign to victory.
How they’re changing the game: Boebert is a perfect case study which demonstrates content is king and if social media analytics are any indication, she’s on the path to win her second race this election cycle. For example, a Five Seasons Media social media audit going back the last several weeks reveals on Twitter alone, Boebert has posted nearly eight times a day – racking up nearly 4,000 engagements per tweet. Compare that to her opponent who has tweeted around three times a day and has only received around 130 engagements per tweet.
Boebert’s content is a mix of right-wing, but often witty, trolling, Trump support, and commentary on trending digital material. Whether you love her message, or hate it, she’s successfully been able to drive engagement and grow her following to a level that has surpassed even Colorado’s own governor, Jerod Polis. Boebert’s dominance on social media in Colorado’s 3rd congressional district race is an example to behold.
3. Auditor Rob Sand
Who they are: Iowa’s Democratic state Auditor.
Why they’re on the list: Unless you closely follow Iowa politics, there is a good chance the following is news to you:
1). Iowa is in fact a state that has more than just corn (come visit us, you’ll love it here).
2). Iowa has a position in government called the “state Auditor”.
For a little background, the Auditor’s office in Iowa acts as the taxpayers’ watchdog. If there is a case of financial impropriety involving taxpayer money, the Auditor’s office has the authority to investigate and release their findings. While this position is arguably one of the most important in the state, it is traditionally a low-profile gig. Thanks to social media however, Rob Sand has changed that.
It’s also worth noting Sand follows our Chief Creative Officer Josh Scheinblum on Twitter which is always a sign of a social media genius.
How they’re changing the game: As any good social media manager should know, among the ways to drive engagement to a given account involves creating a clear voice for your brand. Whether he’s done it intentionally or not, Sand has created a social media persona all his own – funny, smart, and entertaining. While many politicians mistakenly use social media simply to attempt to amplify their own voice, Sand engages directly and thoughtfully with those who interact with him, even trolls and strong critics.
Where Sand really excels is in his ability to use trending content to bring further attention to himself. While I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the content he’s produced finds itself in a TV attack ad put out by a future opponent accusing him of not taking his position seriously, the good news for Sand is no one watches TV ads.
A prediction: Sand isn’t making new inroads into the social media world because he has a passion for social media marketing. Likely, he has higher political aspirations than state Auditor. Whether you agree with Sand and his approach or not, we’re confident his unique social media methodology is building him a larger base of supporters that will give him a leg up in any future election.
2. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Who they are: Democratic member of Congressrepresenting New York’s 14th district.
Why they’re on the list: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose nickname is “AOC”, is a lightning rod of controversy or a hero depending on who you ask. That said, regardless of how one may feel about this ringleader of “the squad” – she’s a force on social media who is growing her voice through it in unique ways mostly not seen by her fellow colleagues on Capitol Hill.
How they’re changing the game: AOC and President Donald Trump may be polar opposites on the political spectrum but one quality they both have: if they’re being used in social media content it likely will explode if put forward by the right account. For example, within six hours of C-SPAN tweeting out a video of AOC addressing offensive remarks that were made against her by a fellow member of Congress, it became the most retweeted post ever put out by the television network, CNN reports.
AOC sets a high standard when it comes creating content people want to interact with in her own right. Whether she’s doing a Facebook LIVE, Tweeting out commentary, or, is LIVE streaming herself playing video games on Twitch, one goal is always clear – she’s looking to find new ways to drive more social media engagement. The landscape of social media is continuing to evolve but AOC’s actions have made it clear she is not only along for the ride but she is at the forefront of where it is going.
1. President Donald J. Trump
Who they are: Republican President of the United States.
Why they’re on the list: There is arguably no person, politician or otherwise, who has become more synonymous with a social media platform, that had no part in creating it, than President Donald Trump is with Twitter.
How they’re changing the game: There are often many so-called White House communications experts that have a heavy hand in releasing statements made by the President of the United States. At least, that was the case before President Trump was elected to office.
Whether you’re on board the Trump train or not, President Trump has used social media in a way never seen before by any other leader of the free world and it is unlikely most of the content he creates has gone through any other filter than his own brain. If the President sends out a tweet, you’ll find a journalist somewhere writing about it, thousands online complaining about what he wrote, and thousands also praising his every word.
Whether President Trump’s social media practices make for a good political strategy or not, we’ll let you decide, but what is not up for debate: President Trump has a voice all his own on social media that impactfully stands out, he is one that regardless of what he posts at any hour of the day or night will drive viral levels of engagement, and he is a content creating machine.
President Trump is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world when it comes to politicians on social media which is why he comes in at #1 on our list.
This blog article was written by Five Seasons Media’s Chief Creative Officer, Josh Scheinblum. For questions about how Five Seasons Media can help your organization, please contact Josh via email at Josh@5SeasonsMedia.com.