Opinion

Donald Trump is better at social media than any other 2016 candidate

There are no fundraising drives or giveaways at @realDonaldTrump

A friend challenged me the other day to write something nice about Donald Trump. Easy to do, actually.

Donald Trump understands social media better than any other presidential candidate. He uses it more effectively than any other presidential candidate.

Why? His id matches the id of the fora he chooses. There are two of them, actually: He uses Twitter and online videos. He ignores everything else, because he has no organic reason to be there. He is authentic. He tweets as he thinks, which is precisely the way that Twitter is supposed to work.

Unlike other candidates, he has no need to use Twitter to troll for money, or to induce people to sign up for a dinner with Hillary Clinton, or to sign a petition for Mike Pence that will go nowhere and accomplish nothing.

Trump does not use Twitter instrumentally. He enjoys it. And he is, instinctively, an online troll.

One social media guru asked me whether by effective use I meant the ability to move minds. No, I don't. But Twitter is not a medium for moving minds. It would not make sense to expect Trump or anyone else to use Twitter to gain traction in a presidential race, in the same way that it wouldn't make sense for TV shows to use Twitter to persuade people that their show isn't crappy. That's not what Twitter does. It enhances engagement.

Ah, engagement. The leading cross-over marketing term of our time. The other presidential candidates think they're engaging in engagement when they use Twitter (substitute another technology like Facebook here too) to jump onto cause hashtags, or to multiply the sound and reach of a communication. They use it for rapid response, particularly to the political elites who spend their day on Twitter.

Trump — he just uses it because it's how he communicates.

On my Twitter account, I posed a question for 2016 presidential candidate communications staff: Has your candidate ever tweeted or posted something without first running it by a consultant?

Ever? I doubt it.

More From...

Picture of Marc AmbinderMarc Ambinder
Read All
The cyber debate goes public
Marc Ambinder
Marc Ambinder

The cyber debate goes public

How would America verify North Korea's denuclearization?
Trump shows the document he signed with Kim
Analysis

How would America verify North Korea's denuclearization?

The NSA knew about cellphone surveillance around the White House 6 years ago
The White House.
Analysis

The NSA knew about cellphone surveillance around the White House 6 years ago

The transformation of Kim Jong Un
President Trump and Kim Jong Un.
Analysis

The transformation of Kim Jong Un

Recommended

White House says there are currently no plans for Biden to talk to Putin
President Biden meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2021.
At An Impasse

White House says there are currently no plans for Biden to talk to Putin

Patrick Henry in China
Protesters.
Picture of William FalkWilliam Falk

Patrick Henry in China

Home of Iranian climber who competed without hijab reportedly destroyed
Rekabi in interview
Iran protests

Home of Iranian climber who competed without hijab reportedly destroyed

White House affirms 'the Holocaust happened'
Ye, formerly known as Kanye West
History 101

White House affirms 'the Holocaust happened'

Most Popular

Once-a-decade critics' poll names greatest film ever
Movie theater
we come to this place for magic

Once-a-decade critics' poll names greatest film ever

U.S. gas prices fall to pre–Ukraine invasion levels
Gas station
Gas Holiday

U.S. gas prices fall to pre–Ukraine invasion levels

Ye praises Hitler on Alex Jones' show
Kanye West on InfoWars
he admit it

Ye praises Hitler on Alex Jones' show