Clinton, Trump Campaigns Instantly Connect with Voters via Twitter

Running a campaign account requires a small army of staffers who can channel the voice, tone and tweet structure of their candidates, and do so round the clock.

by Hannah Wise, The Dallas Morning News / August 23, 2016

(TNS) -- August is a busy month for the aides running the presidential nominees' Twitter accounts.

It is typically a lull period for campaigns: The conventions are over, and early voting is still a ways off. But in 2016, Twitter is a key tool in promoting a candidate's messages and attacking an opponent.

Candidates are able to speak to the public in a more direct and interactive way with Twitter, said Dr. Janet Johnson, a University of Texas at Dallas clinical assistant professor who studies political rhetoric on the social media platform.

But running a campaign account requires a small army of staffers who can channel the voice, tone and tweet structure of their candidates and do so round the clock.

Many campaigns make it very clear when the candidate tweets. Clinton staffers create photos, videos and polls to connect with voters. But Hillary Clinton, @HillaryClinton, signs the tweets she authors with "- H."

The fingers doing the typing on Trump's bombastic Twitter presence, @realDonaldTrump, often belong to Trump himself, but his staffers do their share, too.

But Trump does not sign the tweets he writes the same way Clinton does, Johnson said.

According to an analysis by Stack Overflow's David Robinson, tweets that are posted by Trump himself come from an Android phone. Those from his staff are posted on an iPhone.

 

 

The tweets come at different times of the day and use hashtags, links and retweets in distinct ways. "What's more, we can see that the Android tweets are angrier and more negative, while the iPhone tweets tend to be benign announcements and pictures," Robinson wrote on his blog.

Johnson, the UTD professor, said she sees Trump's Twitter presence as a performance that relies on his reality TV background.

"Americans enjoy seeing what is next with Trump," Johnson said. "I’m not sure that the 10.2 million followers are potential voters — I think they are an audience for him."

Johnson said that when the campaigns engage with other Twitter users by favoriting or retweeting, it's a zero-cost way to acknowledge a potential voter.

"You feel a connection," she said, but it is unclear if that will be enough to get the person to the polls.

"The internet will never elect a president," Johnson said. "It will always come down to the fundamental questions: What does a candidate believe in, and what are the issues that you care about?"

©2016 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.