At PR Hacker, we track all things viral and last night's 2nd presidential debate was no exception.
With Trump's video scandal dominating the viral chatter, we spent the weekend analyzing the overall volume and sentiment on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms — both pre-debate and post-debate —plus looking closely at Google search data and key geographic trends.
Key viral insights from the weekend and post-debate chatter include:
1. TRUMP'S VIDEO SCANDAL WAS HIGHLY VIRAL: The pre-debate viral and social media chatter on Saturday and Sunday was more than four times the typical level for Donald Trump — and mostly negative in sentiment. That's on par with the amount of viral spread we'd usually see for the debate itself (even though the debate hadn't happened yet). The put this in perspective this was about 20 times the volume of chatter we saw for the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie divorce.
2. TRUMP HAD MORE VIRAL DEBATE MOMENTS: Hillary Clinton took a "safer" debate strategy — largely not forcing extensive discussion of Trump's video scandal — and it showed in the debate's most viral moments. The Top 3 moments of virality in the debate were (1) Trump highlighting the group of former Clinton accusers, (2) Trump telling Hillary that she should go to jail, and (3) the surprising moment of grace at the debate's conclusion where each candidate complimented one another.
3. THE DEBATE SHIFTED FOCUS AWAY FROM TRUMP'S VIDEO: Prior to the debate, Trump was facing an extremely negative downward spiral in virality that had the potential to serve as the knockout blow for his campaign. Because the debate introduced a variety of other topics into the social media conversation, the shift in focus away from the video benefitted Trump enormously. However, if another similar video (or related news item) surfaces, the negative viral spiral could pick up right where it left off.
4. MORE NEGATIVE VIRALITY FOR TRUMP IN NH, PA, and CO: Of the 11 key battleground states, Trump's video scandal appeared to have the greatest negative impact in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. Additionally, Virginia, Ohio, Nevada, and Michigan experienced more moderate negative viral spread. Southern battleground states like Florida and North Carolina didn't see a substantial increase in viral chatter — most likely because attention there was focused on the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
Both Clinton and Trump would be wise to focus their viral and social media efforts on battleground states — for instance, by relating their strongest talking points to local stories and statistics in those states — but this tactic has largely been overlooked by both campaigns.
Stay tuned: We're following this election closely as a fascinating example of how viral tactics are changing communication, marketing, and politics as we know it. We'll report more findings shortly.