Post by Todd Grossman on the Communication World Magazine website (IABC International)

 

Donald Trump is the new president of the United States, but oddly, everyone seems confused as to how it happened. Pollsters, journalists, academics, you name it were (almost) all calling for a Hillary Clinton victory in last week’s election, with many believing it would not be that close.

The one place where Trump has maintained a strong lead throughout the entire campaign, however, is in social media. And as the U.S. comes to terms with a Trump presidency, there are lessons to learn from the first made-for-social-media election and the tactics that confounded everyone in the traditional media.

When it comes to politics, there is a tendency to dismiss the voices of people on social media. “It’s just trolls,” or “it’s all bots anyway” are common refrains. While there is some truth to this—social media give everyone a voice, including spammers—this does not mean these channels should be dismissed. In fact, while there was much talk of bots distorting the social media view, the result makes it apparent that those claims were overplayed. Individuals were supporting Trump, and they were being very vocal.

Indeed, in the case of this election and of the recent “Brexit” referendum in the U.K., social media have instead uncovered a seam of public discontent that polls do not seem to be able to capture.

Everyone has a voice on social media

Perhaps it is the unsolicited nature of social media comments. Perhaps it the potential to be heard by the whole world that social media offer people. Perhaps it is just the countless forms of expression social networks allow that give voice to sentiments that cannot be captured in a simple survey.

 

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