Donald Trump has attributed social media as a ‘key element’ in his win. He said in CBS’ 60 Minutes, “The fact that I have such power in terms of numbers with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.,”, I think it helped me win all of these races where they’re spending much more money than I spent.”
When we see it in composite numbers, Republican Donald Trump is way ahead of Democrat Hillary Clinton. While writing this, Donald Trump, the US President Elect, has a combined Facebook-Twitter-Instagram following of 33.7 million that is a huge 9.5 million more than Hillary Clinton’s. Following is the split of their followers base for these three social media platforms.
Facebook: 14.7 M
Twitter: 15.1 M
Instagram: 3.9 M
Facebook: 9.5 M
Twitter: 11.1 M
Instagram: 3.6 M
These figures say Donald Trump is significantly ahead of Hillary Clinton in terms of Facebook and Twitter followers – two of the three most talked about social media platforms that along with YouTube help shaping public opinion on issues – like we saw in the case of the Arab Spring – a multi-country revolution in the beginning of this decade that is attributed to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. He is having a slight edge even on Instagram, the junior brethren of these two.
And when Donald Trump says that ‘he thinks that social media has more power than the money they (Hillary’s campaign) spent’, he makes a perfect sense.
America is a connected country with firsts in telecom and internet revolutions. According to Statistica, the US has around 190 million Facebook users, 67 million Twitter users and 67 million Instagram users. That means a lot in a developed society of 320 million residents.
So even if Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is busy clarifying that the Facebook content is authentic and just less than 1% of it can be termed fake and he is terming the ‘criticism of Facebook for spreading fake news’ as crazy, we have reasons to believe when Donald Trump says social media helped him win or when Hillary Clinton blames FBI director James Comey for her defeat who reopened the Hillary’s role into the classified emails probe days before the polls, on October 28.
Okay, Hillary doesn’t say anything about social media here. But it is social media only that can shape opinion so rapidly – in a week – something that has potential to decide the electoral outcomes – at least in a connected society like the US – in a society where even many Democrats and states/regions who had voted for Barack Obama in the previous two polls, went on to vote Donald Trump – in a society that stands bitterly divided after Donald Trump’s victory – a fact that also tells us that there are very limited chances of some surge or drop in the followers base of Trump or Hillary post the election result.
Just to sum up, a February 2013 observation by Adweek says, “Social media takes up a lot of time, and internet users are happy to get stuck in. This leads to the use of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter becoming second-nature, forming habits that influence their lives, both on and offline.”
When it was so four years ago, imagine it now – when social media platforms have made rapid strides including new platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat – that are taking the world by storm.