Making Political Announcements On Social Media

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, December 23, 2014

In a surprising move last week, Jeb Bush took to social media to announce he may run for President of the United States in 2016. While he didn’t make a definitive decision, Bush has indicated that he’s forming an exploratory committee to determine whether he’ll run.

The news was received with mixed reviews on social media and in the press, but one thing is for sure: the announcement made some noise among the public and politicians alike. Many took to Twitter and Facebook to voice their opinion on the announcement, which became a trending topic. 

Facebook was an interesting choice of platform on which to first make this statement. But with the growing audience-targeting capabilities social networks have, the choice wasn’t at all unusual.

Let’s take a look at the attention Bush’s announcement attracted on social:

As of Dec. 22, we tracked that Bush’s Facebook post received 11,335 total interactions, split down to 6,265 Likes, 3,432 Comments, and 1,638 Shares. We calculated a post engagement rate of 9.8%, which is unusually high for a typical post by a public figure — especially for a lengthy post of nearly 200 words.

Given that this was a surprising announcement and attracted a lot of media attention, this engagement makes sense. On Twitter, a platform closely tied with the spread of news, Bush’s tweet (which linked back to his Facebook post) received a lot of engagement too: 6,894 Retweets, 119 Replies, and 3,064 Favorites. This led to an engagement rate of 5.2%, which is very high for Twitter.

Aside from the post itself, Bush’s Facebook Page and Twitter profile saw a huge uptick in activity around the announcement. On the day of the announcement, Bush gained 6,357 Fans on Facebook and 3,888 Followers on Twitter. To put these growth numbers into perspective, each day in December before the announcement Bush was adding an average of 244 new Facebook Fans and 87 new Twitter Followers. Bush’s Twitter account was also mentioned 22,839 times from Dec. 16 and 19.

So, what do these numbers tell us?

First, those on social media have definitely taken an interest in Bush’s announcement, and it sparked a dialogue both on and off social. Though Bush only said he was going to “actively explore” the possibility of running for president, the exploratory committee is basically a formality. Odds are the former Florida governor throws his hat in the ring. 

Second, it’s clear that social has emerged as its own news platform and can be an extremely useful channel for debuting a political announcement. Bush captured the attention of not just his fans, but prompted an immediate response from other potential GOP candidates as well.

We’ll likely be hearing other politicians speak up on their intentions to run for presidency early in the new year. This week, Marco Rubio said that should Bush ultimately decide to run for president, it wouldn’t deter him from running himself. Earlier this year, Hillary Clinton stated that she’d be making a decision on whether she’d run for president early in 2015.

As these decisions are released, let’s take a close note of where and how the announcements are made. With the expanding application of digital and social, politicians’ strategies might just surprise you.

1 comment about "Making Political Announcements On Social Media".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, December 23, 2014 at 5:01 p.m.

    Had Obama done it, it would have been so super cool. But not for Bush. Double standard.

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