From Grassroots to Viral: #DropOutHillary
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One of the greatest things about working here at NUVI is that I am able to find, follow and track anything. Especially anything that is trending. This helps me do two things. One, I am able to keep my finger on the pulse of the social world and better understand the constantly evolving world of social media. And two, I am able to relay this level of understanding to my clients.
I recently stumbled upon a very large trending topic and have been tracking it for the last several weeks. On May 4th, I noticed the hashtag #DropOutHillary come out of nowhere and blow up on Twitter.
Now, as a big fan of House of Cards, I’m convinced that political reveals and trends are all planned out way in advance. I noticed that this topic had started taking off at the same time as the dropping out of the Presidential race by republican hopefuls Ted Cruz and John Kasich. So, to see if I can find who the Frank Underwood of this conversation possibly was, I did a historical search back in time to May 1st. This is what I believe is the account that first posted #DropOutHillary for this viral topic.
Trying not to be too influenced by House of Cards, I started looking through the #DropOutHillary data to see what it was all about. What immediately jumped out to me was that in the top influencers there were none of the major news outlets. No Fox News. No CNN. No MSNBC. Usually, inside of top trending topics, these major outlets are some of the top influencers as they are reporting on these trending stories. But with #DropOutHillary, nada. The closest I got was a journalist from The Rolling Stone, who used the hashtag a few times. Later, AOL.com and NRO tossed the hashtag around a little, but they were riding the wave.
Next, I noticed that there was something funky going on with the profiles listed as the top influencers, most active, etc. As I looked deeper I noticed that:
• A majority of the Twitter handles were Bernie Sanders related.
• Of the top twenty-five profiles, those with the most reach, spread, mentions, etc, had only around 1,000 followers and only one had 27,000 followers.
• Seven profiles that linked back to Bernie Sanders’ official website were extremely political
And, as I dug deeper, scrolling through these seven profiles’ feeds, I couldn’t find a tweet that didn’t have to do with Hillary, Trump, Bernie, or the presidential election, and most had changed their photos and bio to reflect their political views. Are these the signs of a social grassroots campaign? What does all of this mean?
Well, it could mean two things (or something else entirely): either Bernie Sanders and the other political leaders have extensive networks of people paid to troll social media, or we just witnessed an authentic grassroots movement, one that Bernie Sanders supporters are known for according to US News.
As the conversation continued to blow up, I noticed that these mentions started coming from more and more influential twitter users. The #DropOutHillary hashtag had reached a point of virality. The point that more and more influential accounts started tagging their Pro-Bernie tweets with the hashtag.
For example, this potentially grassroots campaign had gained enough momentum to attract the attention of actresses and Pro-Bernie supporters Rosario Dawson, Shailene Woodley, and Susan Sarandon.
Now, whether the conversation and hashtag were started organically or by a troop of trolls doesn’t seem to matter. As the hashtag continued to grow, several supporters and bigger celebrity names started to contribute to the conversation. And that’s exactly what you want. The goal of any trend is to get as many people with as big of influence as possible talking about what it is that you want to talk about.
In the end, #DropOutHillary conversation continues to grow, and the power and influence of a single tweet has grown right along with it.
Zach has been an integral member of Team NUVI for almost 3 years where he leads a team of eight. He loves social media, his rescue dog Randal and College Football.
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