Opinion: Trump’s unprecedented social media presence compared to Biden’s composure


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Since the beginning of his presidency, Joe Biden has celebrated diversity by acknowledging and celebrating different groups and holidays on his social media platforms.

Since the Progressive Era, public opinion has been a critical part of the president’s job. It was right around the start of the 20th century when newer technology became intertwined with American politics. As more Americans began to consume media, people in positions of power learned to respond and adapt to the rise in consumer culture.

Now in 2021, we are in a position to take a step back and critically examine former President Donald Trump’s and President Joe Biden’s approach towards public image. Arguably, the last four years have cemented themselves into a new era, serving as an intersection between social media and great social, political and cultural changes. 

We have also seen that making an effective image for a presidential candidate is critical; Especially when it comes to winning elections, gaining support from the populace and shaping their reputation in history. The right image can ensure presidential success.

Most people, no matter their political positions, will collectively agree that Trump’s social media presence was unprecedented. No previous presidents have ever embraced Twitter the same way Trump did. And arguably, for his specific audience, his approach was successful.

By bypassing mainstream media in favor of social media, he was able to disregard traditional filters or forms of censorship. It soon became that major news outlets were reporting entirely on his social media interactions which both amplified his messages and provoked his growing fan base. Additionally, his use of passionate and provocative language targeted people’s fears and desires for America. This presentation in totality made him more personable in a way never seen before.

“Trump uses social media and terms like ‘fake news’ and ‘witch hunt’ and his power there to create the illusion of popularity for ideas that actually have no basis in reality,” said Sam Woolley, director for propaganda research at the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Media Engagement. “Often what this does is create a bandwagon effect for supporting false or misleading things, or more generally attacking institutions.”

Many of these same supporters call Trump’s candor refreshing. One supporter even praised his inconsistent style of speech exclaiming, “it’s never the same, it’s not written out, it’s not on any teleprompter.” Most of Trump’s social media statements came entirely from him, with no revisions from any editorial team. Presidents are a reflection of the entire country, and many times Trump’s spontaneity came across as unprofessional, incoherent and simply overwhelming.

For example, Trump publicly celebrated Columbus Day in a proclamation and tweet, while starkly neglecting to acknowledge the impact on Indigenous people. To make matters worse, he took this holiday tweet as a moment to deplore “radical activists” for rightfully criticizing Columbus and his treatment of Indigenous people.

Comparatively, for the last few years Biden has recognized Indigenous People’s Day, and his messages have acknowledged this country’s history. Additionally, Biden has celebrated numerous other important marginalized social groups and holidays including Juneteenth, International Women’s Day and Pride

Despite Trump’s initial campaign promises, he did not support Pride for the first two years of his presidency. It wasn’t until May 2019 that he finally posted a tweet, which came despite all of his steps to reduce LGBTQ rights: from banning transgender people from the military to nominating judges from anti-gay hate groups.

Ultimately, in order to make these promises meaningful, presidents must reflect the action and intention in which they hold themselves in this position of power. These actions illustrated that these messages meant nothing.

While Biden naysayers may argue that Biden’s carefully crafted campaign and social media presence is insincere, I would argue that his approach illustrates composure, stability and earnestnesssomething that is desperately needed after these last four years. Americans should not have to worry that their representative is offending other world leaders or inciting violence

As Biden took the helm, it was critical that he restore and maintain a professional media presence; communicating truthful information and connecting with the public.  

Social media is a tool to connect to an audience. If users, such as influential presidents, learn how to harness their data and respond accordingly, they can make valuable connections. A successful president is one who is aware of these factors and after careful research, thought and consideration uses them for the greater good of the people.