Exclusive — Under the Hood: How Donald Trump Has Cut Around Corporate Media to Reach Millions Directly Online

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Sterling Heights, Mich. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

One of the major successes of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign was his ability to cut around a dying corporate media industry to speak directly to voters.

There may be no better way to tell the story of Trump’s success than to pull up the hood on his social media operation and look at the raw analytics.

Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino, who is now running social media operations for the presidential transition team, provided Breitbart News with the core statistics on the Trump team’s massive social media reach.

His Facebook page reached more than 21 billion impressions—21,031,446,611 to be exact—from the day Trump launched his campaign until November 22, 2016. There were more than 485 million engagements on his Facebook page during that timeframe, and nearly 50 million “likes.” On videos his team posted on Facebook, they have had, Scavino told Breitbart News, more than 1.3 billion views.

On Twitter, Trump achieved similar numbers. Scavino told Breitbart News that between June 2015 and November 2016, Trump’s Twitter posts have had nearly 9 billion impressions and more than 400 million engagements.

Trump’s Twitter account now has 16.2 million followers, and his Facebook account has 15.6 million likes. His Instagram account has 4.2 million followers. Between the three, that’s 36 million people his personal social media accounts reach.

“The success to our social media platforms comes directly from then-candidate, and now President-elect of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump,” Scavino told Breitbart News. “It is all Mr. Trump and his messaging. Whether Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram platforms, Mr. Trump is directly involved with our social media messaging. He loves communicating with the American people, and he loves seeing what is going out.”

Scavino informed Breitbart News that there was not some boardroom of political consultants pre-testing talking points for tweets and Facebook and Instagram posts before they went out. It was him, Trump and his iPhone, that led the way in making this happen.

“Our social media platforms—and the way they were operated—is without question, historic,” Scavino said. “It has never been seen before, and it will never be seen again. We didn’t have a massive team—just a few of us working on all of his social platforms. We did not have videographers, producers, or social media managers responsible for handling each platform. We did not have teams or layers of people to go through an approval process. We did not have focus groups watch our messaging, to see what we would use, and not use.”

That occasionally led to some criticism of some of the posts, but Trump’s victory on November 8 speaks for itself. He became the first Republican candidate for president since the 1980s to win more than 300 electoral votes, and he swept the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

People across the country, Scavino told Breitbart News, were looking for someone who was human, not a scripted politician. They got that in Trump, and given the industry-wide failures of the corporate media throughout the election cycle to accurately report the news, Trump’s social media operation filled the void.

It offered Americans a window into who Trump really is, and allowed him to essentially bypass the failing and corrupted corporate media—most of whom essentially proved themselves with their actions to essentially be trying to tank the Trump campaign. They failed, and Trump succeeded.

Scavino has been so effective that even the anti-Trump Fox News star Megyn Kelly criticized him as “Trump’s golf caddy.” While Scavino was Trump’s caddy when he was in high school and college, which helped him earn the money he needed to pay his way through school, Kelly’s characterization of him as just “Trump’s golf caddy” badly misrepresents Scavino’s illustrious career afterward.

After college, Scavino got three promotions in five years—account manager, business manager, and then district sales manager—and then at age 29, he was named general manager of Trump National Golf Club Westchester. At age 32, Trump promoted him to executive vice president. He was also named as a top 20 manager in the United States by Golf Inc. magazine.

Trump himself, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, oversaw the process—and it was Scavino who personally handled everything that went out on Trump’s social media accounts. Brad Parscale, an adviser to the campaign based in Texas, managed digital fundraising and targeting efforts, taking what Scavino was documenting—like rally photos and videos and more—and weaponizing them into an operation that saw Trump raise millions more than expected via grassroots fundraising.

Even the New York Times admitted that his grassroots fundraising donations fueled the campaign. Scavino was glued to Trump’s side throughout the race, using his iPhone to post videos, photos, and updates from the trail—the stuff the corporate media wouldn’t cover—and he used features like Twitter polls to make charts to keep engaging the followers of Trump’s social media accounts.

Perhaps one of, if not the biggest stories of the presidential campaign was the gross negligence of the corporate media when it came to reporting the size of Trump rally crowds. While the New York Times and CNN, among others, were refusing to show the vast support Trump really had—and would not show the crowds—Scavino, armed with his cell phone, went out taking Facebook Live or Periscope videos to show them to the country.

“While we did not have a team off 100-plus people, the determination to win and willingness to go around the clock to communicate with the #TrumpTrain followers online made it a massive success,” Scavino told Breitbart News, adding that it was Kushner and Trump’s campaign CEO Stephen K. Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, who understood the power of social media and empowered him to cut around the corporate media. He said Bannon has taught him a lot about the new platforms over the past few months, as well.

Every day on the trail, Scavino posted anywhere from eight and 15 times per day on Trump’s Facebook page, around one to three times a day on Trump’s Instagram page, and repeatedly on Trump’s Twitter during and after rallies. While Trump himself usually operates his own Twitter handle, unless he is dictating to Scavino what to post, Scavino helped fill it out with photos and more content. Scavino also made clear to Breitbart News that despite erroneous reporting in the corporate media world, Trump’s access to his Twitter account was never taken away.

“That was a 100 percent false report which spread,” Scavino said, noting that Trump himself had access to his personal Twitter account via his phone throughout the entire campaign.

“Donald J. Trump’s social media platforms assisted in delivering him the presidency. It assisted in getting his message out to the American people—and it clearly worked,” Scavino said, adding that what he enjoyed most about this was “working directly with Trump and the small team that traveled with him.”

Scavino is now running the social media for the Trump transition team as President-elect Trump prepares to take the Oval Office.


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