TAMPA-- Even before today's round of primary votes are tallied, social media experts have concluded Donald Trump, with 6.92 million Twitter followers, the winner of the social media battle.
Kevin Wagner, author of "Tweeting to Power" and professor of Political Science at Florida Atlantic University says "Donald uses Twitter to control the tone and focus of the campaign."
What does he do better than others?
"He's shocking. Shock draws eyeballs but it also gets attention from traditional media," says Wagner.
Wagner's research shows that those who engage in social media for political information do so not because it informs, but rather "people want information that re-enforces what they already believe."
Twitter was invented less than 10-years ago. Today, there are an estimated 320 million monthly active users, a huge audience that politicians can reach the moment an idea strikes them.
"Twitter presents one of the most inexpensive, unmediated, and closely-focused forms of communication in campaign history," says Wagner.
Every politician Today uses social media. Some better than others. Sen. Bernie Sanders has been active on Snapchat. Hillary Clinton uses social media not only to deliver 140-character messages, but like many skillful Twitter posters, she also engages readers to spend even more time following a link, often to a video.
Candidate Twitter Followers By the Numbers:
- Donald Trump: 6.92 Million
- Marco Rubio: 1.32 Million
- Ted Cruz: 933,000
- John Kasich: 237,000
- Hilary Clinton: 5.69 Million
- Bernie Sanders: 1.68 Million
Wagner says "Our research has shown that social media is most effective when the tweets are reinforced with outside information or imagery."
Best at this again says Wagner: Donald Trump.
"Trump also reinforces his network by retweeting his followers creating the appearance of a two way conversation."
But retweeting can be dangerous. Twitter has no editor, other than the person posting.
That's something Trump discovered when he acknowledged he had stepped over the line by retweeting and then deleting this post last year: