The Accidental Digital Strategy that Won a Celebrity Business Personnel the US Presidency

In todays modern day era, we are bombarded with marketing messages that we the public receive on a daily basis. It would be important for any person or business to have some sort of effective digital strategy set in place, to ensure they are reaching the correct consumers without barriers, but is it important to have a digital strategy?

“Digital strategy formulation typically involves making adjustments to marketing strategy to take advantage of the benefits of online channels rather than wholesale changes.” Porter (2001) 

In recent times technology and media have advanced exceedingly fast, and this allows for the public to use it as they wish. The Internet has birthed numerous means, that benefit the public, but one particular descendant of the Internet that stands out and is used regularly by all smart digital strategist is social media. Social media gives people access to voice opinions happening in society and in day-to-day politics.

The Digital Age of Communication & Technology

We live in the age of technology, and when technology advances, so does communication. Any person with access to a smartphone or android, living in the age of technology will have unlimited access to an array of sources, outlets and information that they can reach in seconds. One individual in particular that stands out in their ability to use social media and market their brand, which effectively left the world scratching their heads. An accidental, but yet extremely effective digital strategy that made a business celebrity the 45th president of the United States. I personally would call him “The Social Media President” but this business man goes by name of Donald Trump. Donald Trump’s ability to market himself through 140 characters was utilised in a way that allowed him to spend less and reach a far more aggressive audience than is opponent. An article by (digit.hbs.org) stated that during the 2016 presidential election, Trump’s digital team created thousands of adverts and content that brought in more than $275 million in donations through Facebook and Twitter, (Cameron, I 2017). And an article by (Digitaldoughnut.com) headlined, calling Trump the King of Digital Strategy Adema K. (2017). Did Trump have a digital strategy or did he smartly sway the American public “the buyers” by avoiding the fact that “He’s not actually a politician” he is a salesman by trade.

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The Empire

Trump built up his campaign empire, and tweeted out excellent adversaries about his opponent that give him his seat as president (Personal Opinion). Although his digital strategy was unconventional comparing to Clintons approach, it seems in the end if there had of been a defeat for Trump, it would have still rendered him a win, his name after all was mentioned in every news article/website and papers nationwide, and as the old saying goes, any coverage is neither bad or good, especially when your in business. According to (Businessinsider.com) “Trump’s tweets provide an insight into the mind-set of a president. Trump stating, “My use of social media is not Presidential, it’s modern day presidential” kiersz, A. (2017). Trump’s large number of supporting followers allowed the celebrity personnel the ability to use the platform as the base of his campaign, which hypnotised the world. When Trump tweeted, there was uproar around the world, because his erratic, but yet effective tweets where enough to make people stick around to see what happened next, almost like soap opera. Trump detoured the conventional mechanism of mass media, which it allowed him to speak directly to the American public which garnered more support through sharing and liking by his followers, even his haters sharing his content. According to (TheVerge.com) Trumps influence was of the quantity of his following, which aided his success of the 2016 USA election (McCormick, R 2016).

 

social-media-crisis%20image%2011Sensitive Spin Doctoring & The Buyers

What did we learn from Trump’s campaign rallying? Well, we can see from his speech giving, that they weren’t as forthcoming as Clintons, although his marketing capability through his platform expelled him to the front of the race. Faking it till he made it? He tweeted on delicate matters that the American people would have been sensitive to, especially American Democracy’s. According to an article by SocialMediatoday.com, Trump tweeted more than 3000 times during the elections, tweets such as “Make America Great Again”, “Crooked Hillary”, “Immigration” and “Jobs”, pushing delicate issues into the lime-light, ultimately triggering peoples sensitivities (Richard B 2017).

This political neophyte/businessman/reality TV star and his campaign developed a strategy based on what they knew, a keen understanding of how content is consumed today, what engages consumers to tune in, pay attention and be loyal” (Johnson, D, W. Brown, L M. 2016)

 Trump’s digital strategy was garnered in his “buzzwords” and how he adapted to what the American public wanted “his buyers” which the American public bought as concrete evidence that he’d be the opponent that will change America to fit the needs of what they want. The American public bought into the salesman plight, one who doesn’t know how to execute the procedures of a politician nor a president, and of course what did “the buyers” lose? Their receipt for a return!

The Expense

All of these favorable methods gave the American public “the buyers” a sampling taste of what’s to come if Trump won the election. By doing these unethical approaches had a crippling affect upon his opponent. This kind of digital strategy had a massive ripple effect that ultimately cost Clinton the election (Or perhaps she solely thought this was in the bag?). Not only did Clinton lose the election but also the difference in expense was astounding. According to the Washingtonpost.com Hillary Clinton spent a massive $1.4 Billion, whereas Trump spent $957.6 million (Narayanswamy A, & Cameron, D (2017). We could say this is because Hilary Clinton is a politician and Donald Trump is a businessman and was simply good at adapting to selling himself in the digital world.

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What’s to be learnt & what will change?

What lessons can we learn from this? Well, that future campaigning will perhaps be a massive part of the digital world, specifically the American Presidency? This would also go for all businesspersons alike in learning about the power of the digital world, especially social media. It seems as though anyone with a platform, now have the ability to compete with the big brands and competitors out there. What’s also important is how brands utilize these communication channels to engage with audiences and customers. Everywhere we look we see spin doctoring from all business and politicians alike, one would suggest creating a digital strategy.

The 2016 USA presidential election is a perfect example of how social media channels are important factors to consider when you want to connect with your audiences. We can see this, in how Trump used the digital world to market himself to win an election, and most importantly the cost effectiveness of his digital campaigning. This will perhaps see the change in how politicians market themselves to their publics. Using social media channels to extend to a singularly specific group of people that can be swayed into buying your brand or campaigns with the simplicity of 140 characters. Think about it!!!

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Kevin Doonan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/irishcuchulainn/ ; Twitter – @KevinODunain ; Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/irish_cuchulainn/ ; LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-patrick-doonan-54749056/