How Will Social Media Shape the 2020 Presidential Elections?


Today, we ask the all-important question: Will social media be a big influence on the 2020 elections?

To answer our question, we’ve got Douglas Hochberg, the Chief Digital Officer at the Republican National Committee. In that role, he managed over $25 million in advertising, social media accounts with millions of followers, and the largest political email list in the United States.

An abstract photograph of an iPhone home screen, showing numerous social media app icons

In early 2019, Doug founded Bullpen Digital to consult with Fortune 500 companies, national political parties, and non-profits on their digital strategy. Previously, he worked at the 2016 Republican National Convention, American Action Forum, and Romney for President. Here’s what he had to say on the matter.

Will Social Media Influence the 2020 Election?

Yes, but not always for the better. Twitter isn’t real life. Ten percent of Twitter users create eighty percent of tweets. Thinking trending hashtags and mentions can replace polling will lead to candidates making reactionary decisions.

It can be a platform for good, though. Just look at what Snapchat has been doing on the organic side, allowing politicians to more directly interact with their constituents.

How Could Social Media Harm a Campaign?

Sounding inauthentic. Campaigns love the opportunity for viral clap-back, but the more important part is finding a voice that is authentic for the candidate, not their staff.

Single moments are easily forgotten, but a consistent message and tone can leave a lasting impression. People can easily sniff out when someone sounds inauthentic or is trying too hard on social, and that can quickly backfire.

Will Social Media Continue to Define American Politics?

Definitely. With every major change in how we communicate candidates have found new ways to connect to voters. Others have faltered at key moments not knowing what to do.

The story of stark polling differences between those who watched the Kennedy/Nixon debate on television and live is well known. Social media is no different.

Social Media Is Here to Stay

Social media is here to stay. Going forward, American politics will likely be defined by social media, as well as whatever new advancements in communications technology are rolled out in years to come. The candidates who evolve the fastest are the ones that will fare the best.