Love him or loath him, Donald Trump has had enormous influence on the political and media landscape — using social media to utterly devastate the status quo.
Inthe United States, on January 20, the world will witness the swearing in of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America. Many commentators and political pundits have been quick to point out that Trump will be the first President in the history of the United States to hold neither political office or server in the military.
Few have derided Trump as a celebrity president, but what they fail to see is Trump’s carefully crafted personal brand over many years helped propel him into the political stratosphere.
Trump, knowingly or unknowingly, has used the same playbook that many young digital influencers have used to standout and build enormous online followings. Those who can remember the early days of YouTube will remember how early YouTubers used their YouTube channels and Twitter to engage with their audiences in ways that were completely new to anything that had been done before.
Check out these early YouTubers who are still making an impact today: Philip Defranco , Shay Carl, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Casey Neistat.
And like the first wave of digital influencers who took the internet by storm, changing the media, entertainment and marketing game, Trump flipped the old “traditional” media and political landscape on its head. How? By speaking directly to his audience. Never before has a presidential candidate, let alone sitting president used social (media), like Twitter or Facebook in such a direct and authentic way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not endorsing Trump’s recent use of tweets to make foreign policy statements. Social can have enormous benefits, but equally can be detrimental (especially when the downside could mean armed conflict).
I can hear some of you reading this and thinking: well what about Obama? He was the first to use social media as an effective campaign tool.
But Obama’s team were the primary drivers behind his digital strategy. Each Tweet was carefully crafted, going over the content with a fine-tooth comb to ensure no particular electoral demographic was offended, and that the message was clear. Most of Obama’s tweets, either from the @BarackObamaor @POTUS accounts were so carefully orchestrated that they lost their authenticity. Tweets from the President were so extremely infrequent that although the accounts were active, engagement and reach would have been no where near that of @realDonaldTrump.
There’s nothing carefully tailored or unauthentic about that tweet.
OK, so what are am I getting at?
Simple, Trump although the first, will not be the last “influencer” president.
The same tried and tested strategy that has been used by young social influencers to grow an audience of followers and build themselves into a brand can and is being used to upset established norms, not just in politics but across industries. Trumps victory will inspire and legitimise other influencers who no longer see a military or long political career as essential to enter the arena, or take a shot at the highest office in the land.
And the names have already started. While some who have announced their intention to seek office is rightly laudable, others should be looked at more carefully. Dawyne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (@therock)is already a influencer mega brand in his own right. As successful movie star, former pro-wrestler and entrepreneur, The Rock has picked up on the power of social to elevate his personal brand and amass an online following that rivals Trumps.
Now before any of your scoff, just remember, the status quo laughed at the notion of a Trump presidency because they didn’t understand that the game has changed. Influence online is real and when mobilised, can create presidents.
So what do you think? Do you agree Trump is the first Influencer-in-Chief? Do you know of any public figures who’ve upped their digital media game? Leave a comment — I’d love to know your thoughts and insights.