Bernie Sanders and His Social Media Success

By Angela Hart

Sanders, a Democrat, was able to take part in the Republican debate, in a novel way that was not available beforehand. Historically, other party candidates would release a statement the following day pertaining to a few key issues they wanted to address further. Now, candidates can respond instantaneously to one another utilizing new social media accounts.  

Current Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s professional Twitter account is @SenSanders. With nearly 600,000 followers, he is gaining attention online in addition to his name appearing in various newspapers, blogs, and news programs. @SenSanders is not Bernie Sanders’s only Twitter account. Sanders’s second account pertains to his presidential campaign, @BernieSanders. This separate Twitter profile has over 371,000 followers.

By having two separate accounts, Sanders is able to cater his tweets to each audience. His presidential Twitter account relays information about his speaking events and stances on election-related issues, while @SenSanders tweets direct quotes, statistics, and current political goals.

Sanders’s supporters even created the unique hashtag #FeelTheBern to garner interest and spark a conversation pertaining to their candidate of choice.

Sanders also has several other hashtags such as #Bernie2016, #BernieinSC, #BernieinRino, #Bernie, #BernieSanders, #Sanders2016, and #Bernie2016, which frequent his @BernieSanders account.

What is truly interesting, however, is the success Sanders had live tweeting the GOP Debate. The hashtag #DebateWithBernie was developed for him to communicate with interested Twitter users during the live debate, thus allowing a side conversation to occur in the midst of the candidates’ responses. Rather than have people tweet their own thoughts into cyberspace, they could use the #DebateWithBernie hashtag to communicate to other like-minded individuals and, potentially, inspire Sanders to reply to their tweet.

The #DebateWithSanders hashtag is noteworthy for several reasons. Sanders was tweeting his responses to candidates who were talking on the stage and therefore unable to respond themselves. If, for instance, Scott Walker wanted to respond to Sanders, he would have to do so after the debate giving Sanders time to potentially craft additional messages, responses, and sway Twitter uses. But, if Walker wanted to address Donald Trump on something, he could direct one of his responses to him due to his location being a few feet away.

Some of Sanders’s tweets included:

All of Sanders’s tweets received a lot of traction gaining thousands of favorites and retweets. When a user retweets someone else’s message, the original tweet appears on the new person’s feed. Thus, the secondary user is now advertising the original content of the first user’s tweet, which is now visible to a wider audience, making Sanders’s remarks widely distributed across Twitter.

Since the success of live tweeting the debate, Sanders has continued his use of social media. Here are some examples of his issue-related tweets that pertain to his own stance political views.

With the election season upon us, Sanders’s use of social media may expand to garnering votes and getting his name out among voters. At the moment, he is polling ahead of Hillary Clinton. Sanders’s strategic use of social media may be one factor to his current lead.

Angela Hart

Angela Hart is currently earning her master’s degree at Georgetown University in Communication, Culture, and Technology. Originally from Massachusetts, she graduated from Bentley University with a bachelor’s degree in Communications with minors in English and Law. She is involved with film studies, new media and politics, journalistic practices, and satires.