How do politicians use Twitter? Applying social media principles to politics

As a political science and advertising/PR double major, I am particularly interested in how my two chosen fields of study intersect. So, when I was given the opportunity to choose a research topic for a paper in my Research in Advertising and Public Relations Class (CAP 115), I decided to research how, if at all, the Twitter presence of candidates for political office impacts how the public perceives their personality. I am currently conducting primary research about this topic with a group of classmates in order to expand upon my conclusions, but my secondary research did reveal that the use of Twitter by political candidates has an effect on how they are viewed by the public.

The 2016 election was, obviously, extremely divisive and incendiary, with negative rhetoric being spewed by both sides. One of the most prominent vehicles for political vitriol was Twitter; both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton used Twitter in unique and strategic ways to meet specific purposes. Here is an example of a Twitter interaction between the two candidates, which, according to Variety, were some of the most retweeted Tweets during the election cycle:

 

Basically, although this was not the only purpose of Twitter use for these candidates, it was definitely used for some good, ole-fashioned political mudslinging. Personally, I found that interactions like these made them look like angry high schoolers engaged in a petty Twitter fight. Other people may have felt otherwise. Inspired by my (somewhat morbid) fascination with how political candidates used Twitter, I directed my research attention to finding measurable impacts of Twitter use on public opinion.

According to Politico, the technological age of politics began, in effect, when President Barack Obama took office. His team was the first to really master the use of social media, a tool which they used to their advantage. For example, upon his 2012 re-election, the following Tweet was shared from Obama’s Twitter account, becoming his most retweeted ever:

It is plain to see that this tweet was extremely popular, generating almost a million retweets, and how it could positively impact Obama’s image. This shows a more intimate side of his personality than one would receive through the news media. This Tweet shows you Barack Obama, husband and family man, instead of Barack Obama, President of the United States. This sort of imagery can contribute to a more positive opinion of his personality.

In the 2016 election, Donald Trump used social media in an extremely unique (and successful, considering that he won the election) fashion. Trump sent out controversial Tweets that generated news cycle attention and made him more relatable to the public, as his Twitter style seemed more like an average person than a presidential candidate. This strategic use contributed to the image he presented to his supporters, which, while extremely divisive, was popular enough to get him elected.

Twitter provides a unique method of candidate-constituent interaction. It allows a more personal insight into the life and personality of the candidate, because it eliminates the “middle man,” in this case the news media, which normally serves as the gatekeeper in these sort of interactions.  As more and more people become active on social media, these opportunities for politicians to engage their constituents on Twitter are becoming increasingly important.While my research lacked specific measures of how a specific Tweet/specific Twitter presence of a specific politician impacted public perception of their personality, I am hoping my primary research (surveys and focus groups) provide more insight into how certain Tweets cause people to perceive the personality of candidates. Regardless, it is clear that Twitter use for public officials is becoming increasingly important. Thus, politicians should master their Twitter use in order to make themselves more marketable (and thus electable) to the public.

 

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All about Anchor: audio sharing for everyone

In a previous blog post, I was tasked to identify three technology trends that I foresaw for the year 2017. While I was researching for that post, I found the audio sharing app Anchor to be the most compelling of my three choices. Thus, when it came time to explore one of the technology trends I identified further and produce a multimedia package about that trend, I knew that I would be sharing my discoveries about Anchor on my blog.

For those who missed my last blog post, Anchor is an audio sharing app that is somewhat similar to Twitter. Users post “waves,” short sound clips, that others can like, “echo,” which is similar to a reblog/retweet, or reply to with another wave. I think this fun, easy to use, and somewhat quirky form of social media has a lot of potential in advertising and public relations for many reasons.

For this project, I first produced a podcast where I provide a brief introduction to Anchor:

I also produced and edited a gallery of images related to Anchor:

 

 

And, finally, I produced a video about Anchor. This part of the process sort of felt like I was getting hit by a truck the whole time I was doing it, as evidenced by the following tweet. Bonus points if you know the movie I’m referencing.

However, despite the fact that the process of making this video has aged me about 50 years, I am proud of the final product. An Oscar winner it is not, but I think I have a decent understanding of Premier Pro that I did not have before.

 

Let me know if you try out Anchor, and feel free to follow me on the platform as well. I am very intrigued to discover the future of this social media outlet.

The relationship between advertising, public relations and journalism

As someone who has had experience with coursework in advertising, PR and journalism (along with many other things, as I’ve changed my major approximately 500,000 times), I am able to recognize the relationship between all three fields. While there are many differences between the fields, advertising, PR and journalism are all inextricably linked.

I believe this article from Forbes hit the nail on the head when they said that “advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.” While advertising and PR are similar because they both influence public perception of the brand, there are some key differences in their execution.  Companies pay for advertising in order to promote themselves, and PR professionals attempt to convince third parties to promote them.

Often, these third parties that PR professionals seek coverage from are journalists. Journalists and PR pros have a symbiotic relationship; journalists receive ideas for content from public relations professionals, and in return, PR professionals get coverage of their brands. Both advertisers and PR pros build a brand image, and journalists are the messengers which report the results of this imaging to the public.

Advertising, PR and journalism interact constantly, and companies must understand how they interact in order to maximize the success of their advertising and PR campaigns. This blog from Trendkite describes how PR and advertising must work together quite well. Advertisers and marketers create messages with their work. PR can serve as a sort of megaphone to a company’s advertising efforts, by supporting and promoting the work of the advertisers while grooming the public to make them more receptive to their messages. Finally, journalists receive ideas for content from PR pros about these messages that have been related and write about them.

A recent example that I identified that showed the interaction between advertising, public relations and journalism is the release of a new product from Taco Bell, the Naked Chicken Chalupa. While I am a vegetarian, and thus find the idea of a taco with a shell made of fried chicken disturbing, I do have something of a weakness for Taco Bell, and an appreciation for the work of their advertising and PR teams. Through the connections between advertising, PR and journalists, Taco Bell was able to generate a significant amount of publicity for their new product.

Taco Bell began their efforts by putting outadvertisements for the Naked Chicken Chalupa, such as these two TV spots. In order to amplify the work that the advertisements were doing, Taco Bell’s PR pros blog and post about the Naked Chicken Chalupa on their social media outlets. Because Taco Bell has had a funny and engaging online presence before the release of this product, they have created a more positive attitude towards the brand and increased their social media following, meaning that these messages about the Naked Chicken Chalupa are reaching many people. Finally, their PR pros worked with journalists in order to get them to cover/review the product and thus generate more publicity for it. Some examples include this article from Business Insider and this one from The Washington Post. The relationship between PR and journalism is made very clear in the Business Insider article, which states that Taco Bell provided them the opportunity to try the Naked Chicken Chalupa before it was released. Clearly, they did this in the hopes that the Business Insider writers would cover the product positively.

As a result of Taco Bell’s advertising and PR work, the Naked Chicken Chalupa has received quite a bit of coverage, which, to my knowledge, has generally been positive. Whether the product tastes good enough (or is simply bizarre enough) to generate this amount of coverage by itself is unknown; however, with the manipulation of the relationship between advertising, PR and journalism, Taco Bell has managed to create a national conversation about their product. Other companies can, and should, follow their example.

Ad/PR technology trends to watch in 2017

Every year, technology evolves, and what was once new and trendy becomes outdated. In the past year, we have seen platforms like Vine fall, existing platforms like Snapchat become bigger than ever, and countless new methods of communication arrive onto the scene.

Although it is only one month into 2017, there are several technology trends that I believe are worth following in the new year. While the success of these platforms remains to be seen, I believe that these have the potential to be game-changers in 2017.

Anchor/audio-sharing: According to Mashable, when the app Anchor was previewed at South by Southwest (SXSW) in 2016, the possibility of a new method of communication was born. According to their website, Anchor is “radio by the people, where any voice can join the conversation.” Using Anchor, you record short audio clips called “waves,” that others can like, “echo,” a function similar to Twitter’s retweet, or reply to with a wave of their own. Anchor is a fresh take on the somewhat old concept of podcasting, that I believe can be used by PR professionals in order to diversify their social media presence.

I downloaded Anchor and played with it myself, and I found the process of creating waves fun and very simple. I think this unique social media platform definitely has a lot of potential for future use. The link to my profile is available here, and is accessible through mobile devices with the Anchor app downloaded. While Anchor is the most notable audio-sharing app, in my opinion, I think that other, similar platforms may arise out of this potential trend.

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Live video streaming: While this is a trend that took off in 2016, I believe that it will continue to grow into the upcoming year. With video streaming platforms like Periscope, which is integrated with Twitter, as well as social media giants like Facebook and Instagram getting involved, I think live video streaming is a tool that has many possibilities for use in the fields of advertising and public relations.  Online streaming services can be used to produce content for businesses, firms, etc. that are looking for creative engagement methods. Additionally, as other platforms, or creators of new platforms, note the explosive success of live video streaming, I believe that the use of this tool will only increase in the upcoming year. According to Business Insider,  88% of ad agencies they interviewed expressed interest in using live video in the upcoming months. With numbers like that, there is no doubt that the use of live video will continue well into 2017.

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Influencer marketing through social media: I have been a spectator of the online beauty/cosmetics community since 2012. Until recently, their influence has been mostly through YouTube. However, this year I have noticed an influx of beauty gurus (now often referred to as “beauty influencers”) on other social media outlets such as Instagram or Snapchat. Outside of the beauty community, celebrities, bloggers, or even just a layman with an above average amount of followers promote goods on their social media. I believe this trend will continue expanding into 2017, and it is something companies should take note of when formulating their advertising plans.

What influencer marketing offers that is unique is the sense of trust between the influencer and their followers; if there is a perceived relationship between the social media personality and those who follow them, their followers will be trusting of their recommendations and thus more likely to buy those products. Personally, if I see a favorite beauty influencer of mine recommend a makeup product, I become more likely to buy the product myself because I trust their recommendations.

From celebrities like the Kardashians, to girls I went to high school with, I see influencer marketing on my Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat feeds constantly. I see this trend continuing as more people get involved with influencer marketing, companies realize its benefits, and as new platforms emerge for influencers to use.

 

Images from stocksnap.io

What I hope to learn from CAP 105

Hello, MTV, my name is Madison, and welcome to my crib!

All jokes aside, this is my first post on my course blog for Technology in Advertising and Public Relations, AKA CAP 105. For my first post, I have been tasked to discuss what I am looking forward to learning about in class in the upcoming semester. I recently declared APR (PR emphasis) as my second major, so I am, for the most part, unfamiliar with the concepts we will learn in this class. However, I do have experience with some of the technological aspects we will learn about, and so I am very excited to both learn new things and brush up and improve upon existing knowledge.

I have extensive experience with social media for my own personal use (I’m just as addicted to Twitter and Instagram as the stereotypical millennial- no shame in my game). However, I am very excited to expand upon my knowledge of social media and learn how to use it in a professional setting. I think this knowledge will make me more marketable professionally and could, perhaps, even improve my own personal use of social media (because I’m always looking to get more likes). Additionally, there are some platforms we will use that I have never used before, particularly WordPress, that I am very excited to play with. I have messed around with WordPress before, and I have always had an interest in blogging, and I’m hoping this course will be the push I need to take a leap into the world of blogging. I am curious about expanding this blog into my own personal blog after the course is over, so I am looking forward to learning more about WordPress and seeing where I go from there.

I am also excited to refamiliarize myself with platforms I have had experience with in the past. I was very active in journalism in high school, holding an editor-in-chief position on my school newsmagazine and also participating on the yearbook staff, so I have had a good amount of experience with some of the programs in the Adobe Suite, most extensively in Indesign and Photoshop, with a small amount of experience in Illustrator as well. However, I abandoned my love for journalism once I got to college, so I haven’t been able to use those programs in a while. Recently, I found myself missing having a creative outlet, which journalism provided me. While I loved political science, I found myself feeling that my ability to be creative was being wasted on a major which can sometimes feel like the antithesis of creativity. Therefore, I added APR as my second major in order to explore my previously neglected creative side. I one day hope to work as a lobbyist or a political consultant, which I feel is a good blend of the two fields I am interested in. I am definitely looking forward to my future, as evidenced by the following tweet:

I am looking forward to learning many new topics in this class, because I feel that I will gain many important skills that I can use for internships this summer and beyond, as well as future careers, while also allowing me to explore my creative side and get back in touch with some of my old interests.

Photo from stocksnap.io