Politicians and How They Create Their Image through Social Media (Sanders and Clinton) essay

Politiciansand How They Create Their Image through Social Media (Sanders andClinton)


Politiciansand How They Create Their Image through Social Media (Sanders andClinton)


Theinvention and adoption of social media in the people`s lives havetremendously changed the way people communicate. This due to the ideathat, it brings along the aspect of communal. Since the invention ofsocial media, its influence among the people has been on the rise.More so, its influence varies from one community/individual toanother, not to mention its vast difference when compared to thetraditional media. Today, the internet has become an important toolnot only in business, but also in defining how people relate to eachother how they communicate as well as how information is shared fromone source to another. In 2011, the use of the internet incommunication was more rampant among the youth however, after acouple of years internet usage tremendously increased among olderpeople in the community (Frizell, 2016). To the American campaign,social media came into use in 2008, and since then the platform hasterrifically been adopted into the presidential campaigns. The trendin the use of social media in American campaigns has tremendouslyincreased with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton among the aspirantsto have heavily deployed the platform to sell their policies andenables their followers to be updated on their campaign trail. Thispaper provides a rhetorical, critical and context analysis withregard to the use of social media platforms in their (Clinton andSanders) campaigns. The analysis will focus on how the twopresidential aspirants have used the social media platforms to createtheir images. More so, the paper will provide detailed focus on thecontext of the election, sanders and Clinton Ethos and communicationtheories on the social media. Finally, the paper will provide acomparison between the two presidential aspirants, how different theyuse the social media (the key focus will be on social media, thecomparison between the candidates).

Politiciansare referred as brands, hence the adoption of social media to marketthe brands. Social media has been adopted to provide the link betweenthe governed (people/followers) and the political leaders/aspirants.With regard to the current presidential race, temperatures haverisen, and so there has been a rise in the use of technology such asthe tech-savvy adopting the social media strategies. Looking back atthe last presidential election in 2012, President Obama joined one ofthe social media platforms (Twitter) and through this he hostedvarying chats discussing a varying range of issues. Since then, thisaspect of politicians using social media platforms has become afairly standard. Politicians and their campaign teams embarked onFacebook pages, Twitter accounts with the key focus on establishingmore out-reaching campaigns. Focusing on the upcoming election in theUnited States, there has been a notable rise in the number of socialcampaigns as every politician’s team looks forward to advertisingand also successful outreach through platforms such as Facebook,Twitter, Instagram, and also Snapchat among others. The platformshave become important due to the fact that, voter and especially theMillennial have in great extent adopted the internet and social mediaas a preference to the traditional mediums such as radio, andtelevision (Frizell, 2016).

Currently,the United States presidential campaign trails and the primaries havebeen on the process with every candidate focused on clinchingrespective party tickets for the forth coming 2016 presidentialelections. This has, in turn, led to the rise of mainstream socialmedia with the platforms, offering varying uses and impact of thepolitical campaigns. The social media have varying possession instore for the current campaigns as well as the next generation of thepolitical campaigns. In a nutshell, the medium presents the messageand more so like the television before (it) the social media. Thesocial web will definitely radically impact or alter who among thecandidates is electable.

BernardSanders is an American politician who is affiliated with theDemocratic Party and is one of the candidates looks forward towinning the party’s presidential flag for the Americans forthcomingpresidential elections later in the year. At the moment, he is thesenator from Vermont. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is also anAmerican politician and former first lady. She is also a contestantto be the flag bearer of the Democratic Party ticket to thepresidential election 2016. The two have been on the campaigns asthey focus on wooing their supporters as well as market, advertisingand selling their manifestos to the delegate so as to win the partyticket. This has, in turn, led to the massive adoption of socialmedia platform by both camps as they focus on getting the partyticket (Frizell, 2016). The social media tool, not only has become acommunicating platform, but also offering the candidate time tointeract with their followers as well as getting their views withregard to their position on different campaign issues, not to mentiontaking of polls.

Today,the social media is rapidly becoming the default platform for whichpeople are spending time discussing issues affecting them. Accordingto Lira (), the first time presidential campaigns and debates were onTV, it was seen as a gimmick, however, over time it becomes adominant force and form of political communication. More so, beforethe adoption of the television, there were candidates who couldn’thave a chance once the TV emerged. This trend has been no lessdramatic when it comes to the adoption of social media. Not only dothe social media allow the politicians to reach to their potentialvoters closely, the platforms also help reach out to the peoplefaster as well as in a more targeted manner. On the other hand, thesocial media platforms allow for immediate feedback, debates, and theconversation which allows for the easy spread of messages to more andnew audiences. According to (), he argues that the rate at which thesocial media is being used in the current campaign trails, the impactcould swing the 2016 elections in either way. This is due to the factthat, the candidates in the race for the 2016 United Statespresidential elections later in the year are using social networksmore compared to their previous predecessors. One focus has been totap into the millennial market. However, it is a more difficult caseto measure how much is gained from the social media campaigns.

Sandersand Clinton are two famous politicians, both seeking to win the flagbearer mantle for their democratic party into the next generalelection. Both candidates provide different qualities to the voters,as they embark on campaigns to win the support of the Americans.Bernie Sanders has remained in an elected position since 1981Clinton, on the other hand, occupied an elective post in the year2001. One difference between the two is the time they have heldelective positions, with Sanders is in an elected position for over30 years, while Clinton has not more than 8 years in an elected post.Despite Hillary Clinton being regarded as the preferred candidate totake the democrat flagship in the presidential election, Sanders isgiving her real challenge. On some issues, making the debate for thepresidential candidates, Sanders and Clinton are not that differsfrom each other. For example, on the issue of women rights and healthissues, their position is the same (Chan, 2016). On other issues,they prove to be fairly close to each other, such as the issue ofimmigration and campaign finance. However, despite their closeness,Sanders remains behind Clinton and provides a viable option as analternative to Clinton.

Interms of adopting the social media in their respective campaigns, thetwo democrats have heavily relied on the media to ensure they reachtheir voters. Not only are the contestants investing on social mediaplatforms, but also the providers, i.e. the Facebook and Twitterwhich have engaged in the politics arena, specifically the 2016 duel,by offering massive platforms such as pages and accounts in the casesof Facebook and Twitter respectively. Back in 2008, Obama campaigntook over the little-known world of social media. However, there hasbeen a massive evolution in such cases such as the maximum people whocould be in a group were 5000, however, today, this has been changed,on the other hand, Twitter couldn’t allow adverts on theirplatforms, a trend that has changed today. This evolution in thesocial media platforms has inevitably been a positive development forboth Bernie and Clinton campaign teams as they have been able toadvertise, invite delegates for fundraising, discuss topics, as wellas market the manifestos to the Americans. Sanders has everydepartment of the campaign intertwined into the social media. Todayboth teams (Clinton’s and Sander’s) have let deployed theirdigital teams to fully train into experts. This has enabled theircommunications and press to be always in coordination with theirsocial media teams. In a nutshell, the organizers of eachpresidential candidate have adopted the social media into the team’sdigital strategy.

Contextof Election

Oneof the aspects defining the 2016 elections, its campaigns and themanner in which the candidates ought to focus upon is the context ofthe forthcoming elections. Different issues have been brought up indebates with each of the candidates expressing his/her stand on each.Some of the issues include economic policy, environment and energy,drug policy, income inequality, immigration, education, healthcare,criminal justice, national security, gun control, foreign policy, andcivil rights and discriminations among many other issues. One of themajor topics that becoming part of the election 2016 is the issue ofimmigration and immigrants to the use.

Differentfactors are determining the election context being transmittedthrough the social media. With reference to both camps, the maincontext of the social platforms i.e. the Facebook pages and Twitteraccounts is to directly inform the electorate of the proceedingswithin the candidate’s camp. This includes venues and dates forcampaign meetings, expected changes to the same as well. One of thedetermining factors behind how each of the aspirant’s camp isutilizing the social media is the message which each wants to passthrough. One common use of the social media platform as mentionedearlier is that it’s used as the primary communication tool totheir supporters all over America. In addition to communication anddelivering their agendas to the Americans, the politicians are usingthe social media platform to build their images before the Americanvoter (Chan, 2016). For example, Sander is recreating himself as aman of the people, while Clinton is displaying her experiment withthe American politics as the only electable candidate to succeedObama.

Sandersand Ethos

Ethos,pathos, and logos have been in the use throughout the campaign trailsas the candidates embark on a quest to win over the voters vote, aswell as win more audience to their different political camps. Beingone of the presidential aspirants for the democratic ticket towardsthe presidential race for 2016. Sanders has been known to display allthe three aspects in his campaigns i.e., by being logical in hisarguments, as well as using his character as a tool to woo people,marketing himself is the electable Democrat, as well as showing theemotions behind his speeches. For example, in his stand on the issueof poverty among the American and minimum wage, an increasing aspectof financial unpredictability in America and the overall impact onsociety, his quote was influential. This is due to the idea that, hisremark relates to current as well as trending issues in Americannation today (Chan, 2016). By use of logos, pathos, and ethos, Sanderexcellently managed to put a spotlight on the Americans issue ofpoverty and minimum wage. While at the same time, challenging,relevant institutions to work towards a better American community.

Withreference to the poverty and minimum Sander says that “nobody whoworks 40hrs per week should be living in poverty.” This emphasizeshis ethos or rather emotional appeal, hence in return gettingsympathy from his followers. Taking into account his stance and theissue of poverty and minimum wages as resultant instability in thecountry’s finances. In addition to the display of ethos, Sanderspolitical stance through his time as a senator and also during hispresidential aspirant, he displays credibility as well as ethicalappeal. More so, Sanders, past which entails his involvement withjustice actions is a strong point that plays a massive role towardsdrawing of his audience and expressing to his audience the passion hehas on his raised issues/subjects such as the case with poverty andminimum wage. Finally, still with regard to his stand on the issue ofpoverty, Sanders appeals to logos in the essence that, he backs hisstatement with statistical data supporting his stand that,application of minimum wage isn’t a solution to financialinstability to the Americans.

Sandersand Communication Theories on Social Media

BernieSanders has been one of the steadiest users of social media. Hisfollowing has been growing tremendously throughout his campaignperiod unmatched by any other Democratic Party presidentialcandidate. After the Democratic Party presidential candidate debatein October 2015, hosted by CNN, Bernie Sanders twitter following grewby over 35000 new followers. This was far much better than otherDemocratic Party presidential candidates combined, who gainedslightly over 23000 followers combined. This went hand in hand withhis ratings, which rose with over 5 percentage points just a weekafter the debate. Many people knew very little about the Vermontsenator, but he took advantage of social media platforms to endearhis candidacy to the masses and grew his stature to a household name.Many people and even analysts believed the democratic presidentialrace belonged to his fellow candidate, Hillary Clinton, but BernieSanders changed all that by taking social media by storm and becominga social media phenomenon to sell his policies, which changed manypeople’s perceptions towards his candidacy and remaining in therace up to this time.

BernieSanders social media campaign skills amazed so many people by itsability to appeal to the masses through its strategic communicationto rally massive crowds to their campaign meetings and mobilizevoters to their camp. Bernie Sanders social media campaign has beenable to communicate and reflect his message the same amazing way heis doing in person by using his desire and charisma to woo voters(Chan, 2016). The handlers of the Bernie Sanders social mediacampaign embracing of social media platforms with zeal, well ahead ofother candidates gave him an advantage over the rest. Bernie Sandersmessage resonated well with thousands who followed him on socialmedia platforms, thus he was able to mobilize them to his campaignseven on short notice. The social media team targeted the potentialvoters by incorporating the use of more recent platforms such asSnapchat to create excitement among the audience and tap into a keydemographic segment of the young people, who identifies themselveswith it. The social media campaign team took full advantage of thestrengths of the various social media platforms to organize thousandsto attend his rallies. For example, his March rally in Los Angelestook only two days to organize and was very successful. They wereable to convey the message strongly and engage the right people withthe potential to attend making thousands of people attend to seeBernie Sanders speak.

Allthe departments of the campaign are intertwined together, no-one isin competition with the other but complement each other. The campaignorganizers have adopted the social media team and fully supports itthrough constant coordination with the other departments, and makingsure all social media platforms, including instant messagingapplications, is adopted by the whole team, hence the impact of thesocial team being very successful. Bernie Sanders social media team’sopenness to the engagement with social media users enables them tomake changes to their digital strategies to bring on board views fromsupporters, which has proved very useful. This endears morevolunteers to the team as they feel part of it because the ideas theycontribute are incorporated into the campaign, thus are having animpact. Bernie Sanders social media team has continued its aggressiveand has enabled him to clinch crucial victories against HillaryClinton. The tools of social media have enabled the campaign team tospend less time and money to organize more people. All these cappedby a charismatic person with a powerful and authentic message thatgets people to engage as it resonates with them is what keeps BernieSanders campaign performing despite his less popularity.

Clintonand Ethos

Clintonin her speeches uses appeals to win the voters as well as show heremotional side. In her speech, the three forms of rhetorical appealare inevitable with the ethos being the biggest. The use of ethosincreases her credibility among the Americans and audiences. Oneexample of where Clinton shows the application of the ethos is whenaddressing the issues relating to families, children and women. Forexample, “Ihave had the opportunity to learn more about the challenges facingwomen in my own country and around the world. I have met new mothersin Jogjakarta, Indonesia, who come together regularly in theirvillage to discuss nutrition, family planning, and baby care”(Berenson, 2015). When she says such words, it plays directly intoher audience’s hearts with her motive to establish a connection andtouch every audience who has a connection to a woman or children.

Clintonand Communication Theories on Social Media

Asa Democratic Party presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton is aprominent user of a wide range of social media platforms. She has astrong presence on most social media platforms with millions offollowers on Facebook and Twitter, as well as having accounts inInstagram and Snapchat. Due to her stature in the society as a formerfirst lady and recently secretary of state, her campaign team,especially the social media campaign team, is very much targeted hence it focuses on specific topics and issues. The social mediacampaign team aims at creating a humanized image of Hillary Clintonthat is relatable to the common people who make the majority ofvoters. The social media campaign mostly focuses on battling theperception that Hillary Clinton is not personable by circulatingimages or videos that evoke emotion. They catch her at random withsome questions, which she answers while they record a video of it, toget her genuine reaction that triggers emotion and creates frenzy inthe various social media platforms (Emily, 2016).

TheClinton social media team is very effective in planning andorganizing events, which are at times streamed live to audiences whowatch and make their contributions in real time. The opportunitiescreated by spontaneous and trending topics tend to disappear veryquickly, thus the social media campaign team needs to take fulladvantage of such spontaneous changes. Her social media teameffectiveness is made possible by more resources and its leanness,which enables them to run the digital platforms smoothly. The HillaryClinton campaign has made a bold choice in making sure the onlinepresence is not molded in her persona, but what her enthusiasts andsupporters will resonate well with. The campaign has worked hard tomake Hillary Clinton look like a millennial to be able to engage withthat demographic that forms the majority of voters. The social mediacampaign positions her as a brand saleable to all segments of theUnited States population by nodding to their culture to seem as oneof them. The Hillary Clinton team has engaged supporters through useof the emerging social media platforms such as Snapchat as well asposting her reactions using ‘emojis’, which most ardent socialmedia users to relate to (Reilly, 2016).

Thesocial media campaign urges supporters to make Hillary Clinton’smessage on the various social media platforms loud and clear. This isin order to match or even outdo other Democratic presidentialcandidates, especially Bernie Sanders, who is the closest challengerand has a huge online following. Hillary Clinton’s social sites arehighly interactive, enabling content to originate and flow in the twodirections, her campaign team, as well as supporters. This helps thesupporters to feel they are part of the team as they get the chanceto present their ideas and contribute through commenting on variousissues and topics under review (Berenson, 2015).

HillaryClinton has also used her social media platforms to launch attacksagainst her political competitors’ policies and ideologies,especially the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, DonaldTrump. For example, she wrote on her twitter account againstdeclarations by Donald Trump that he will build a wall along theUnited States border with Mexico and that he will keep all Muslimsout of the United States if elected the president. At times, theposts made by the social media campaign on the various platformsbackfire and give her opponents opportunities to attack her. Forexample, when a hashtag ‘#Hillary so qualified’ was created onTwitter, many of her detractors hijacked it and used it against hergiving her competitors a chance to take advantage.

HowThey Used Social Media Differently and Conclusion

Themassive adoption of the social media by the two aspirants has led tothe different application of the same. One major difference as to howthe two uses the platform, Clinton has excellently used it tocommunicate her strategies such as spread her achievement while shewas holding other positions. In addition, she uses the Twitterplatform to show to his follower’s old video clips which are insupport of her track record. More so the clips are to be used as herselling platform showing her track record in different undertakingsshe has participated through her time as an American politician. Inaddition, she uses to show her success and future plans. With theincreasing allegations subjected to both candidates, one similarityin terms of how they use the social media is cleaning their namesfrom any wrong doings they might be have committed in the past orconnected to (Reilly, 2016).

Sanders,on the other hand, use the social media platform to establish moreand more connected. On one side, Sanders was less known to theAmericans compared to Clinton. Unlike Clinton, who used the media toshow her success, Sanders uses it to blend with the Americans, markethis ideas also to inform the Americans/his followers of hisintentions if he becomes the president? On the other hand, while hedoesn’t use the platform to attack Clinton, he uses it to exposeher connection with Wall Street and other scandals of corruption.More so, he uses the social media platform to make declarations ofthe plans and reforms he intends to execute (Berenson, 2015).

Interms of creating their images through the social media, Sanders hasfocused on building himself as a man of the people, and hisincreasing number of followers shows his growing influence among thesocial media users. In addition, he is building his character from alesser known basis to an individual who can influence the life ofAmericans. By showing his days as a participant in civil rightsparticipant, he attempts to identify himself with Americans adding tohis focus on being a man of the people (Emily, 2016).

Clintonbeing a more social figure with the Americans looks forward toestablish her image as an American woman who is equally capable ofhandling what comes with the presidential office. More so, she ismarketing herself as an experienced leader, as well as a betteroption compared to the rest of presidential candidates. She isbuilding her prominence which raises her stake towards the elections,softening her image, humanize and make her more relatable. The use ofTwitter which Clinton’s strong platform focuses on building herprofessional image and class. Lastly, she views herself and portraysherself as the unifying factor that would go miles to unite theAmericans and the democrats towards a common and a better America(Emily, 2016).

Comparingbetween Sanders and Clinton and their campaign performance, Sanderslack the aura of big money contributions. This on one sideconstitutes a significant difference between him and Clinton.However, in terms of their positions with regard to campaign issues,the two looks to be almost at par. For example, on one aspect ofeconomic position such as the need for increasing government stimulusand also the need to impose higher taxes on the wealthy, the twoaspirants records very minimal differences. However, the differencein the amount available for funding their campaigns is farm muchcreating the difference even with the aspect of using the socialmedia platforms (Emily, 2016).


Thepresidential campaign has been about three variables which have beendeemed key to any winning candidate. These include time, people andmoney. It is clear that every campaign team is in focus to leveragethe best in terms of the three. More so, the invention of the socialmedia platform into the Clinton and Sanders campaign trails haslooked to leverage the three variables. I.e., the use of Facebook andTwitter and made it easier to use fewer funds, less timeorganization, followers, as well as use less time responding to anychanges and people`s demands. However, it is clear that, for socialmedia to work effectively for any candidate, he or she ought topossess powerful message to the people. Candidates who extemporaryshow total engagement with people, authentic message, an effectivecombination of ethos, pathos, and logos, takes the day when it comesto using social media in campaigns.


Berenson,T. (2015). Hillary Clinton Keeping Lead Over Bernie Sanders, PollShows.&nbspTime.Com,N.PAG.

Chan,M. (2016). Hillary Clinton’s Lead over Bernie Sanders Fades in NewNational Poll.&nbspTime.Com,N.PAG.

Emily.H. (2016). Clinton, Sanders make effective use of social media inPresidency bid. Retrieved May 24, 2016, fromhttp://www.smudailycampus.com/opinion/clinton-sanders-make-effective-use-of-social-media-in-presidency-bid

Frizell,S. (2016). Why Bernie Sanders Is Trolling Hillary Clinton onTwitter.&nbspTime.Com,N.PAG.

Reilly,K. (2016). Bernie Sanders Cuts Further Into Hillary Clinton`s Lead inNew National Poll.&nbspTime.Com,1.