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Short and Not Too Sweet

Twitter rises in political campaign arsenal

While billions of dollars were being spent by politicians to get elected in 2016, a cheap, 140-character phenomenon became the mightiest tool on President-elect Trump’s workbench leading up to the national election.

What’s most notable about the Twitter tactic? It works, and it’s really cost-free. Actually, there’s zero cost to lambasting opponents up one side and down another with a quick tapping of the keyboard. “Trump takes to Twitter” became the battle cry of those looking for clarity and reinforcement during the bloodiest of presidential campaigns. But, did they really get that clarification from a few, brief sentences?

Interestingly, around 500 million tweets are dispatched into the world every 24 hours, according to Entrepreneur magazine. But, the ones getting noticed most are coming from the future leader in chief of the United States.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll, 64 percent of voters feel Trump should not keep a personal Twitter account. OK, that’s probably a really good idea. And, make sure for God’s sake that he doesn’t have a backup computer and server in the Trump Tower basement.

What’s most ironic to me is the number of media types who decry the use of Twitter by Trump but still print or broadcast the content. In other words, Trump wins. What would happen if media decided not to reuse Trump’s tweets? Clearly, the missives would no longer be important. Problem is, reporters simply cannot do that.

The idea of bypassing the media and going directly to the public is not new. In fact, just look at a typical national address by a president. Sure, there are pundits commenting before and after a big Oval Office speech. But, the Big Chief has full autonomy and control of his or her speech. Look at town hall meetings as another example of talking directly to constituents. Surely, reporters will report on the meeting, but reaching voters, unimpeded by media interpretation, is a very good idea when you’re trying to establish a proper narrative.

This media sidestepping is going to happen a lot more. Even those of us in public relations and advertising are looking to direct client-to-customer (or potential customer) communications as very targeted, affordable and effective ways to tell their stories. Before you suggest that’s been happening forever, let me explain.

Now, with laser-beam precision and instantaneous distribution, public relations professionals can target specific populations (and even individuals) and build a dialogue or even move a person to action. Never in history have we had a more robust delivery vehicle or unfettered access to various publics.

So, while some may shudder at daily tweets from 16th and Pennsylvania, we’d better expect more of the same. While I’m not clairvoyant, I bet you every politician up for re-election will look at Twitter and other social media even more intensely now.

Thanks, George Orwell. We are now living with an omnipresent Big Brother in the form of social media.

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