Did #AskTrump Twitter Q&A backfire?

The GOP front-runner and his team handled a deluge of negativity in his latest social media foray by answering a dozen friendly questions and ignoring the flak. Did they pull it off?

Donald Trump’s #AskTrump Twitter “chat” drew a barrage of snarky tweets yesterday.

But was the Q&A session during his visit to Twitter’s New York headquarters a misfire, or was it a carefully orchestrated—and successful—move by the GOP front-runner and his team?

Let’s look at the evidence:

1. Trump’s not a Twitter chump. Trump, who’s a Twitter pro whether or not you agree with what he tweets, has preferred using social media over traditional media to bring his campaign messages straight to his 4 million followers. He has used Twitter as a megaphone from which to sell his brand of politics to anyone who will listen.

2. The format’s the thing. The format for this Twitter chat played to Trump’s strengths: Unlike a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” interview, in which a candidate has space to address questions with lengthy, nuanced responses, the Twitter chat allowed a 20-second video response for each chosen question (the key word here being “chosen”). That’s not a whole lot of time for deep policy analysis—which has not been a hallmark of Trump’s candidacy, anyway.

3. It’s controlled chaos. Trump volunteered to answer 12 questions during the 30-minute session. He tweeted the hashtag in the morning to collect questions prior to his afternoon visit to Twitter. The #AskTrump hashtag took off like a rocket and soon became the No. 1 trending topic worldwide.

According to the website Bustle, rather than taking the opportunity to show voters substantive reasoning on key policy issues, however, the candidate and his team seemed to cherry-pick the easiest and friendliest questions to answer.

He responded to a number of questions touching on standard campaign fare—such as student debt, gun control and his top priorities in office—but he left the overwhelming number of negative posts unanswered, reports International Business Times. Here are some of the tweets Trump thought didn’t warrant answers:

4. Just keep smiling. If the Trump campaign regretted the move to promote the #AskTrump Q&A, it didn’t show it. After the free-for-all ended, Trump tweeted, “I had a great time,” along with a picture of himself at the Twitter offices.

Same Twitter, different day

Other politicians have tried to engage Twitter users and have gotten the same mixed responses.

International Business Times reports that the campaigns of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal fought to rein in a wave of negative hashtags early in the campaign.

Fellow GOP hopeful Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul seemed to dodge the bullet, finding better success with his hashtag #StandWithRand.

It’s unlikely that the anti-Trump Twitter bombardment will severely damage his campaign. Supporters and detractors alike probably won’t change their minds based on a social media exercise.

He and his team seem to have gone with the theory that any exposure is good exposure, especially when you believe you’re controlling the playing field. They might be right about that.

What do you think, Ragan.com readers? Did this PR maneuver backfire?

Marla Markman is the owner of Markman Editorial Services, which develops, edits and manages content for a wide range of media.

Topics: PR


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