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Social Media, the Election, and What We Learned

It is no secret the scale of impact that social media has on influencing public opinion. The internet is a black hole of information and social media platforms are its most successful peddlers.

Social media as a tool for political outreach was first successfully developed on a large scale in 2008 by the Obama campaign. President Obama’s second run for president introduced a social media movement that effectively raised money, fought opponents, and mobilized voters locally and nationally. The movement was so successful that it is considered a key contributor to his win and is a template developed by the 2016 presidential candidates.

The marketing strategy of political campaigns is not all that different from small businesses. So as digital marketers, what can we take away from the social media strategy of the 2016 presidential campaigns?

KISS Principle

Keep it simple, stupid. Whether you’re trying to gain the vote of millions of different people, or sell a service to a smaller but equally diverse population, the message must be useful and easy to understand. This is why nominees at every end of the political spectrum adopt a campaign slogan that is specific enough to defend, but vague enough so that you might not have to. Obama’s “Yes We Can,” Trump’s “Make America Great Again,” and Clinton’s “Stronger Together,” are rally cries around which social media users gather to find and share information. A business should adopt that same simplicity principle to elevate their brand above the competition.


Authenticity is apparent, even over the internet. One of Clinton’s biggest social media criticisms was she came off inauthentic to millennials who did not take kindly to her alleged pandering. Politicians are expected to maintain a curated authenticity. Authentic to their vision and personality, and when that deviates the internet is quick to catch on. An authentic and useful social media presence is really important for small businesses. It gives them a voice to be advocates for themselves and their customers, and provides a space where they can talk directly to people who actually care about what they have to say. Do not squander the gift of a social media platform by putting out information that is not in some way useful or true to your brand and customers.


Today, if you are not present on social media you are not present, period. As politicians of the Information Age have learned, you must be an active participant in the social media world to be considered a participant at all. According to the Pew Research Center, 65% of adults use social media networking sites. Social media has been proven to increase brand loyalty and is the primary way many consumers interact with their favorite brands. Use the digital evolution to your advantage. Make sure your business stays relevant and top-of-mind by regularly posting simple and authentic content.

The 2016 Presidential Election saw the full force of social media’s influence on public opinion and voting. We saw each candidate and their respective campaigns create a presence that aimed to mobilize, inspire, and influence votes. And we responded. As digital marketers we can learn from those founding principles and apply them to our own work.

EM Search Consulting provides digital marketing services to a variety of industries. If you think you may benefit from one of our services fill out a contact form here!

Courtesy of Forbes and Adweek

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