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 ( 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 ( 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.

donald trump flag

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 ( “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 ( 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, 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 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.



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!!!



Kevin Doonan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Facebook – ; Twitter – @KevinODunain ; Instagram – ; LinkedIn –

Grieving and Staying On Course

Grieving and Staying On Course

29 days, one day for each year I’ve been alive. From diagnosis to the day my mum died, 29 days, that was all the time we were permitted. When you lose your mum, it comes with a dreadful feeling of isolation. No matter what age you may be, there’s nothing in this world more heart wrenching than to watch the person who made the very fabric of your soul, that one person who watched you take your first breath, to have to watch them take their last breath. Death has never been so real in watching my mum die. You get this feeling that you are now truly on your own in this world. As I write this, I hear the clock tick by, and with every tick, my mum’s memory is disappearing into the past. With every tick, like a scavenger I search for memories of her, searching for the sharpest memories that I can put into the permanent parts of my mind. My mum lay on her hospital bed, propped up with pillows at either side and she asked me to do something for her. It was to plan her funeral with her and as much as I didn’t want to talk about planning her funeral I could see such dignity and strength in a woman not afraid of death. Her words where “You are my son, take this loss one day at a time and allow grief its space, cry when you need to, you have to live the best possible life for me and you because you’re my strongest” and that made me realise, how can I not make her final wishes a reality. Having to face death is most certainly the last thing I thought I would be facing in university, it changes all features of your life.

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”


My mum died so unexpectedly and so suddenly through second year, that I didn’t get time to process her cancer diagnosis. University had been great with extensions and their continued support while I dealt with the funeral process. It had been an extremely devastating time for my family and me. But it was also very important to my mum that I commit myself to finishing out my second year and continue into final year. It has been six months since my mum passed away, and I can tell you that at present, I miss her beyond any comprehension. The last six months have brought me so many different emotions, some of which I can’t tell if it’s sadness, angry or happiness. What I do understand, as I experience this journey, is that for every person I’ve met who’s experienced a great loss, his or her grief is unique to him or her. For me though, I had switched into autopilot, because I had to think academically and also think about planning my mum’s funeral and executing these plans. The emotions that accompany grief intensify for a long time after the death has taken place. For myself, I had to grieve after the funeral, as per my mum’s requests. I received my student loan in April and used it to cover the cost of the funeral; one thing I learnt is that death pays for itself, there’s no need for Marketing or Public Relations. I’ve read tons of different articles about how some bereaved students may suffer academically; there definitely is a sense of bewilderment about thinking academically and feeling the full weight of grief. Compounded in my grief, I still needed to sit two exams and considering how delicate the situation was I passed them two exams with firsts.

”Just because you can’t see my internal pain, doesn’t mean its not there”


Grief is perhaps, one of the most invasive feelings; it touches every aspect of your life and shakes all your foundations. After University had finished, I spent the summer in bed. I replayed the events of what just happened, recalling every conversation with every doctor and nurse that crossed my path during my mum’s short battle. I felt I was silently imploding, I felt I was dying myself, because I couldn’t let my mum go yet. I begged and pleaded for resolution from the grips of grief. For myself the fog is lifting and I was very accepting of my mum’s death from early on but I did have extreme anger at the forces that surrounded the death of my mum. At present I allow myself the space to grieve when I need to, I wear grief on my sleeve because I believe it’s vital to express myself. What I am learning about the process of grief is that there isn’t a right or wrong way to grieve a loss, and no amount of accelerating of the process will fix it. No person should tell you how to grieve, the only person who can do that is yourself. No wound is as mentally as large as losing your mum. The mental pain however is beginning to become bearable, which is allowing myself to concentrate in final year. Grief to me is as simple as this; it has no rules or regulations in how and when it chooses to consume all corners of your mind, body, and soul! Grief to me is life experience. Grief to me is a mental and physical journey every single individual will take, no matter how much wealth or health we have, it’s a must do journey.


Kevin Doonan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Facebook – ; Twitter – @KevinODunain ; Instagram – ; LinkedIn –