Friday, 18 November 2016

Political memes

Obama won his last election with social media. Now Trump has won with social media. Political memes are officially a big thing. Throughout the election cycle, Trump was the more-discussed candidate on social media. The discussions were not always positive - but they made sure that Trump would win any contest based on the availability heuristic. There were some Clinton memes, but they were nowhere near as diverse, interesting and spreadable as the Trump memes. Love or loathe Trump, one has to acknowledge that he and his team have some marketing skills.

The Trump campaign illustrated the marketing heuristic that there's no such thing as bad news. The important thing is to get in the news. In many cases, it doesn't matter too much if the news reflects badly on you - so long as everyone is talking about you and discussing you.

I'd like to illustrate this article with an internet meme. Early in the campaign the Gregory brothers made a memorable video illustrating the Trump marketing tactics titled Donald Trump Sings & Dances. The video showed how Trump grabbed the media spotlight using provocative behavior - essentially by trolling everyone. The chorus lyrics go: "I love Mexicans they're rapists" - a mashup of Trump's contradictory comments.

It was easy to dismiss Trump during the campaign because his policy positions were so ridiculous. Building a 2000 mile wall along the Mexican border with North America is the most obvious example. However, because his ideas were ridiculous, people discussed them, ridiculed them - and in the process, shared them. Trump went along with his memes for the ride, using memetic hitchhiking. It worked. Now America has four years of Donald Trump as president of the union.

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