It turns out that if you’re a presidential candidate and you want to go far on Twitter, you’ll have to get a tad irreverent and get the kids talking.
Analysing the tweets of the mainstream candidates since their respective campaign announcements, we found that displays of panache, pop culture savvy, and even a little sass seem to go far.
The most-popular tweets reflect both the image that candidates want to project and the messaging their supporters respond to most.
That being said, sass and pop culture seem to be solid bets for any candidate.
For instance, since the announcement of her presidential bid, Hillary Clinton has had the most retweets and favourites with a tweet referencing the British boy band, One Direction:
Tweets that appeal to the younger part of Clinton’s base seemed to trend toward the greatest success: her next two most popular tweets celebrated the then-recent decision to legalise gay marriage nationwide, and after that came the declaration that “No student should have to borrow money to pay tuition at a public college.”
Throwing down, however, is Trump’s specialty.
The republican frontrunner also has a tendency toward name-calling. His most-favorited tweet refers to the United States’ “‘politically correct’ fools” and he saw massive engagement when he called those opposed to a border wall “foolish people.”
Trump’s most-retweeted moment, however, was when he congratulated Tom Brady for his overturned suspension:
Congratulations to Tom Brady on yet another great victory- Tom is my friend and a total winner!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2015
If Trump has Tom Brady and Clinton has One Direction, who does Sanders have? As it turns out — “Back to the Future:”
Bernie Sanders is supposedly a social media wiz, and though his Twitter following pales in comparison to that of Clinton and Trump, he gets a comparable amount of engagement from his fans online. He made noise when he live-tweeted the second GOP debate — with many of his hottest tweets coming from that night — but his biggest tweet yet was actually a comment from the first debate:
It’s over. Not one word about economic inequality, climate change, Citizens United or student debt. That’s why the Rs are so out of touch.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 7, 2015
His next biggest tweet was a shot at Trump on the issue of women’s health (the topic is consistently a hit for him), and after that, he scored big with sarcasm aimed at the GOP debaters and George W. Bush. Many of Sanders’ tweets are rooted in policy and ideology — the latter of which is a favourite of republican Ben Carson.
But Carson doesn’t forget to give his competitors a little ribbing. Most notably, a video where his campaign staff found different uses for Clinton’s book made the top of his list. Clinton’s position is secure compared to that of Jeb Bush who, despite high expectations early in the race, has been sagging in the polls.
Bush has shown that Twitter is not his forte, with a comparatively minuscule 348,000 followers — a bit more than the Environmental Protection Agency at 325,000.
The tweet earned about 3,000 retweets and 2,500 favourites, only to get smacked in message and in numbers by Clinton’s rebuttal. Bush’s somewhat uninspired rebuttal to the rebuttal earned him his third biggest post.
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