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Articles
U.S. News: Donald Trump and the Clickbait Presidency

"Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood" … "Media is fake!"…"Are we living in Nazi Germany?"…"I love Hispanics!"

Perhaps historians will not have to dust off old books, but just surf the tweets of our future entertainer-in-chief. While Barack Obama was the first U.S. president on Twitter, president-elect Donald Trump's mastery of 140 characters is strategically disrupting two elite targets simultaneously: the mainstream media as well as traditional policy-making.

First, Twitter gives Trump an unfiltered conversation with his followers who number nearly 45 million across all of his social platforms. Just on Twitter alone, the @realDonaldTrump has 19.5 million followers, compared to 12.9 million on the @POTUS account. He's ranked No. 70 of all Twitter users and his attentiveness score is 74 percent because he is tracked on over 50,000 Twitter lists according to Twitter Counter. This is the "mainstream media" in his world: Trump has more followers than The Economist, Reuters or Fox News.

Secondly, social is an efficient medium with broad exposure: During the election, The New York Times estimated that he garnered almost $2 billion in media from his Twitter use, compared to Hillary Clinton's $746 million. Yet in terms of paid media, he only spent $10 million, slightly more than one-third of Clinton ($28 million). He also averaged only 11 tweets per day, compared to Hillary's 27 (Wall Street Journal), and to a larger audience (Hillary ranks #153).

Trump has promised that he will take over the @POTUS account after he is inaugurated and his use of it will be "very restrained." Don't count on it. Because the second target of The Donald's ire are wonky insider D.C. policymakers. And to disrupt them, is to think like a marketer, not a politician.

Let's call it a new era of "policy by clickbait." Here, @realdDonaldTrump (the person) can test new strategic directions in real time on diplomacy, policy and public sentiment directly through likes and re-tweets the same way marketers optimize messages based on clicks and engagement. The best thing his approach accomplishes is that he can walk back policy by using the gray area between his personal brand and that of official administration policy.

Consider how Trump, citing the high cost, tweeted a threat to cancel the new Air Force One contract and Boeing's stock dropped in under 20 minutes. The incoming press secretary Sean Spicer claims he will remain very active in continuing his use of this "direct pipeline to the American people." So imagine how the president-elect can influence his legislative agenda by reaching into any lawmaker's district with a late-night tweet. Soon daily press briefings might be more akin to social-media monitoring.

That presidents have embraced the latest technology to communicate with the American people is nothing new. From Franklin Roosevelt's fireside chats to Barack Obama discussing the Affordable Care Act on "Between Two Ferns" with Zach Galifianakis, Twitter likely will be Donald Trump's next step in the evolution of presidential communications. But as any social media expert knows, bots and trolls could provide misleading tips on what is truly resonating with the public.

As Trump himself would tweet, "Sad!"

This article originally appeared on US News.

 

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