In 2016, more than any other election cycle in the past, social media will play a huge role in the campaign. Facebook, the world’s most popular social network, has become a core part of every candidate’s campaign strategy. In 2008, it was considered revolutionary when then-Sen. Barack Obama launched a Facebook page and built a significant audience on social media, using it to connect with younger audiences in a way no presidential candidate had done before.
But eight years have passed, and now, having a Facebook page is simply the norm for every candidate. So now the question is: who’s doing Facebook well?
The answer is: Hillary Clinton. The former secretary of state is generating far more buzz on Facebook since her announcement than other candidates, sharing high quality videos that generate millions of views, and strategically targeting voters in key swing states.
For starters, here’s a look at how much conversation each candidate generated on Facebook on their respective announcement day, from those who generated the most buzz to those who generated the least. All data was supplied by Facebook’s policy communications team.
Hillary Clinton4.7 million unique people10.1 million interactionsTed Cruz:2.1 million unique people5.5 million interactions
Rand Paul:865,000 unique people1.9 million interactionsBen Carson847,000 unique people1.5 million interactions
Marco Rubio695,000 unique people1.3 million interactionsBernie Sanders592,000 unique people1.2 million interactionsCarly Fiorina304,000 unique people515,000 interactionsMike Huckabee58,000 people814,000 interactions
Hillary Clinton’s announcement generated far more buzz than the other candidates, garnering more than 10 million interactions by 4.7 million unique U.S. Facebook users. Other candidates largely trailed far behind Clinton in terms of the amount of buzz they were able to generate on the day of their announcement, but Sen. Ted Cruz came closest to Clinton on the Republican side when it came to generating excitement on Facebook.
Clinton has demonstrated an early advantage in Facebook strategy in other ways, as well. Clinton chose to announce her campaign via a Facebook video, forgoing a fancy campaign event and formal speech. The video she released on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon garnered more than 2.8 million views in Facebook’s video player and was shared thousands of times. Ted Cruz also released an announcement video on Facebook, coupled with a formal speech at Lynchburg University, but Cruz’s video has garnered over 1 million views so far – just over a third of the number of times Hillary’s video has been viewed.
Clinton’s team is already using Facebook to strategically target voters in swing states, launching several state-focused Facebook pages, including pages for Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, New York, and South Carolina. The campaign has also begun using Facebook Advertising to target Facebook users with Sponsored posts, inviting Facebook users who are not fans of the candidate to “Like” the page, visit their website, or make a donation.
Facebook is a constantly evolving and ever-changing company, launching new features every few months or even weeks. While Hillary’s digital team has showed an early mastery of using Facebook to communicate and engage with voters, the race is still in its very early stages. The candidates have a long road ahead of them, and smart candidates would be wise to make it a priority to find innovative ways to connect with voters on Facebook.