Donald Trump’s Facebook campaign leads Hillary Clinton’s by a large margin, building on Twitter strength

Donald Trump rip-roars his way through social media, keeping Hillary Clinton’s Campaign in a tight spot. An average official Trump Facebook page [1] post published after August 1st 2015, when the primary campaigning began, attracts on average a staggering 72,058 likes. An average Hillary Clinton Facebook page [1] post garners 14,691 likes, or five times less. The pattern is replicated for comments and shares. Throughout the primaries campaign, Donald Trump’s page attracted a staggering 149 million likes to Hillary Clinton’s 19 million.

Engagement on the Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton Facebook Pages (After August 2015)
Engagement on the Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton Facebook Pages after August 2015.

 

Donald Trump’s success is not an accident, but a result of his buildup to the campaign, which started long before August 2015. Donald Trump’s Facebook page had garnered before August 2015 more than twice (2.3) as many likes per average post as Hillary Clinton’s. An average Donald Trump page posts had attracted 18,748 likes, compared to Hillary Clinton’s 7,943 .

Engagement measured as average counts per post on the Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton Facebook Pages (August 2015 - July 2016)
Engagement (measured as average like, comment, and share count per post) on the Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton Facebook Pages before August 2015

The story, is again, similar for likes and shares even before August 2015.

Donald Trump’s indomitable presence on Facebook mirrors and amplifies his dominance on Twitter [3], where he leads by two million followers (9.4 to Hillary’s 7.4) and gets twice as many retweets per total and per average post.

Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump tweeting performance
Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump tweeting performance

Trump is also more often to be found in Google searches, especially those related to news, as data from Google Trends indicate.

The manner in which he dominates social media is surprising, since he and his campaign are working with a handicap. Both Facebook and Twitter (especially the later) are dominated by younger and more educated demographic groups, which tend to favor Hillary. His success indicates more intense work or success in keeping the message fresh and edgy.

However, social media is not a be all, end all of a candidate’s presence in the public eye. Public performance and interaction by other means, including broadcast media and press coverage, also play a role, one may say, a defining one. Also, what ultimately matters is not what the social media chatter says, but what the intentions to vote are. According to Real Clear Politics poll of polls [4], Donald Trump has quite a bit to do to close the gap, which in the last few weeks widened for a while only to close again in the last few days. Hillary Clinton dominates the intention race by 3-5%.

Intention to vote in 2016 presidential campaign: April-July 2016
Intention to vote in 2016 presidential campaign: April-July 2016

However, this does not put her in the “safe” zone. Recently, Nate Silver [5] announced that tracking the polls and other predictive factors, Donald Trump’s chances for electability have increased from under 30% to almost 40%.

Probability of election in November, Nate Silver Five Thirty Eight
Probability of election in November, Nate Silver Five Thirty Eight

The campaign, given the intensity of passions and the public activism, especially on Trump’s side, is thus a moving target that can reserve some surprises.

NOTE ABOUT THE DATA: Analysis was performed using RFacebook and TwitterR packages, which allow direct access to raw posting, commenting, liking, retweeting data. Facebook data included all posts published by the two campaigns between August 1 2015 and July 16 2016. Twitter data covers the period April 15-July 16 2016.

Note

The page was updated to reflect that the results reported here earlier referred to the period preceding August 2015.

Sources

[1] https://www.facebook.com/DonaldTrump/?fref=ts

[2] https://www.facebook.com/hillaryclinton/

[3] http://matei.org/ithink/2016/07/16/donald-trump-twitter-campaign-outperforms-hillary-clintons-in-all-dimensions-output-engagement-performance/

[4] http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/general_election_trump_vs_clinton-5491.html

[5] http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/

Sorin Adam Matei

Sorin Adam Matei - Professor of Communication at Purdue University - studies the relationship between information technology and social integration. He published papers and articles in Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Information Society, and Foreign Policy. He is the author or co-editor of several books. The most recent is Ethical Reasoning in Big Data. He also co-edited Transparency in social media and Roles, Trust, and Reputation in Social Media Knowledge Markets: Theory and Methods (Computational Social Sciences) , both the product of the NSF funded KredibleNet project. Dr. Matei's teaching portfolio includes online interaction, and online community analytics and development classes. His teaching makes use of a number of software platforms he has codeveloped, such as Visible Effort . Dr. Matei is also known for his media work. He is a former BBC World Service journalist whose contributions have been published in Esquire and several leading Romanian newspapers. In Romania, he is known for his books Boierii Mintii (The Mind Boyars), Idolii forului (Idols of the forum), and Idei de schimb (Spare ideas).

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