And then the unimaginable happened, Donald Trump won the US presidency much to the chagrin of many especially in Africa who had routed for Hillary Clinton.
But just how did Trump who was largely seen as a bigoted candidate get to beat Hillary? The secret is in his use of Social Media.
Contrary to popular belief, the newly elect US president Donald Trump was a savvier user of social media than Hillary Clinton and actually had a larger following than her by far. His online presence by Google search was more impressive.
Carrying a casual search for both gives 396,000,000 search results for Trump against 346,000,000 for Mrs. Clinton.
On Twitter, Trump had a whopping 3 million more followers on than Clinton. His official Twitter Account (@realDonaldTrump) has a following of 13.5 Million against Hillary Clinton’s (@HillaryClinton) 10.6 million followers.
The use of social media in running campaigns is rising the world over with outgoing US President Barrack Obama having extensively used it in 2002. His official personal Twitter Account (@BarrackObama) has a following of 78.9 million followers.
Trump popular overseas than in the US – Media bias
Had the US presidential elections been a world affair, Clinton would have won hands down. He was more popular overseas than he was in his home country. But was he?
The mainstream media played a big role in portraying Trump in bad light to the world. They magnified his shortcomings while they extoled Clinton in a clear bias. This could have been the reason Trump mostly used Social Media to pass his unadulterated message to his followers and US voters. He knew the mainstream media was against him and that is why he exploited the social media.
Social Media Use in Kenya
In Kenya, we have also seen a lot of politicians taking up the use of social media to sell their policies and candidature. Many detractors however always give the example of Peter Kenneth who is claimed to have been the most popular presidential candidate online in the run-up to the 2013 elections.
That Peter Ken was the most popular is a myth. PK was actually just 3rd after Uhuru and Martha Karua. President Uhuru as presidential candidate in 2013 had the highest number of Facebook likes at 330,000, twice as many as those of PK who had 165,000 likes. Martha Wangari came second at 230,000 and Raila Odinga had 76,000 likes. Mudavadi had a paltry 5,700 likes.
On Twitter, Martha Wangari led the pack with 116,000 Twitter followers with Uhuru having 92,000 followers. Raila Odinga had 104,000 followers coming second after Karua, PK had 63,000 followers and Mudavadi had 3,800.
So, myth that PK was the most popular candidate on Social Media is just that, a myth. Uhuru Kenyatta was by far the most popular Kenyan politician on social media, followed by Raila Odinga, William Ruto, Martha Karua and Peter Kenneth, in that order; and didn’t Uhuru end up being the Kenyan President?
For anyone aiming to be elected in Kenya next year, you can’t ignore Social Media especially if the Main Stream Media is biased against you. And sell a message full of hope like “Make America Great again”