THE BLOG
08/02/2016 07:54 am ET Updated Aug 03, 2017

We Need To Address Hillary Clinton's Twitter Game

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Okay internets, listen up. I think most of us are both mature and bi-partisan enough to recognize that in the absence of alternatives, World Priority #1 right now is keeping the Cheetos-coloured, stubby-fingered troll out of the White House. It is no longer a matter of national preference, national security or any other issue you can think up. It's probably a matter of a future, as in, us having a collective one at all. It's all hands on deck for team Hillary (yes, even you my dear Brothers of Bernie, even you). As such, I want to address one thing that has been bugging me, and I hope other people, throughout the campaign.

Barack Obama was the first president of the internet age. He was the first one to feel within our reach for so very long. With Obama, you always felt like he was there, right next to you. In many ways he was made for the social media era. Personable, eloquent and with a tremendous sense of humor. He was so very human and social media helped him convey that better than any other communication campaign ever would. Not a TV ad, not a paid interview, nothing. He did not avoid the web like those who came before him, he embraced it. He embraced it's capacity to disrupt and and make the invisible seen. He mobilized the masses online to do his bidding for him. To Tweet, to blog, to film, to share. He gave you the tools and shared just enough for you to do the rest of the legwork. He was perfect for it. Hillary is not.

Donald Trump's Twitter strategy is simple. If you replace his profile photo with an egg avatar it all starts to make a little too much sense. There is no mobilization effort behind it. He simply panders to the already existent, hate-filled Mos Eisley section of the internet that draws it's power from his type of rhetoric. It was always there, he just gave them a 10.3M follower mouthpiece. The only entertaining (and high-key terrifying) thing about Trump's Twitter are those pockets of time when he goes unfiltered between when he figures out the new password and Manafort resets it again (stop making it various variations of "MkMuricaGr8Agn" dude). He knows what you want to read and what gets traction and he gets it, by any means necessary.

Hillary on the other hand tried to make the Obama play. She tried to personalize herself and make herself appear more human. The selfies, the dab, the Pokemon Go reference. They're all a protracted efforts to make the Obama play, the "just like you" play, but it simply does not work in her case. The narrative is not the same.

Barack Obama was a virtual unknown, never meant to be the presumptive nominee. He earned every vote and every delegate while also introducing himself to America. He got to build his own narrative from the ground up and social media played a huge (YUGE) role. We got to know Obama the person at the same time we were getting to know Obama the politician. Hillary Clinton does not have that luxury.

We built her narrative narrative long before. We established who Hillary, the person, was during her husband's time in office, during her time after, during her run for the nomination in 2008, during her time as part of President Obama's tenure. In many ways, even if we don't know Hillary the person we feel like we do. She is working against an identity (real or imagined) that is set in stone and her social efforts to appear anything else but what we know her to be seem not only mechanical, they seem disingenuous. Don't get me wrong, sometimes she gets things right. Sometimes there are true moments of savagery meant for the social space, but those moments are few and far between punctuated by a sea of general awful.

Depending on which intern is running the account the tone swings between late 00s social media manager (dude, you don't need to live-tweet the convention, those who care enough to know what's being said by the minute are watching the live stream, and those who don't won't read your Twitter like some sort of chronicled catalogue of each speech broken up by Tim Kaine dad jokes, also have you heard of Periscope?) and wild misfires attempting to appeal to a diverse demographic by speaking their language, sometimes quite literally.

You're better than this. You're much better than this. Say what you say about the tiny-fingered vulgarian that is Donald Trump, at least his Twitter feed is as bat-shit crazy as he is. If you read it for too long you might get brain damage or an incurable case of loss of faith in humanity. For better or for worse that Twitter feed is HIM. This, this is just empty banter disappearing into the Internet bringing you nothing more than a few immediate re-tweets and a quick fade from the public memory.

The strength of Obama's campaign was that it gave you so little, but it let you do the rest. It let you be involved. It let you help build these narratives while letting you in on the joke. It planted information and moments of human character sparingly into your feed and let them permeate there. Hillary's social presence seems like it has been planned by someone straight of a marketing class. By someone who read one book on social media and copy pasted the contents into a strategy. It even uses the "RT if Agree" trend that disappeared into the annals of social media history like three years ago.

Obama succeeded because he didn't treat social media as an afterthought. He saw it as a platform to communicate directly and genuinely with voters. With the disenfranchised. With those who did not see themselves represented through the mainstream. He didn't pander, he didn't try to appear something he was not. He was a man. A man with flaws, but a highly impressionable man with charisma that carried him where he needed to be.

You can't be that, you have to be your own person, but your own person is not a collection of Social Media Marketing 101 exerts and quick attention grabbing tweets that serve no purpose. I don't know who Hillary is, only she can now that (or at least her comms staff), but I know she is not this. She is not this Frankenstein's monster wasting the potential of a platform that should be one of her biggest weapons. And getting outplayed by Cheeto Hitler at his own game whenever he manages to draw her in.

What I'm saying is. Please don't let your intern live-tweet your speech as you're saying it tonight.

Originally posted on Armchair Society.