BUSINESS LESSONS FROM THE 2016 US ELECTIONS by Irene Kiwia Frontline, Tanzania
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BUSINESS LESSONS FROM THE 2016 US ELECTIONS by Irene Kiwia Frontline, Tanzania

BUSINESS LESSONS FROM THE 2016 US ELECTIONS by Irene Kiwia Frontline, Tanzania
Latest from Our Blog

BUSINESS LESSONS FROM THE 2016 US ELECTIONS by Irene Kiwia Frontline, Tanzania

I have spent the last 8 months like a lot of people hooked on this year’s US elections for many reasons; the most obvious being of course the anticipation of witnessing the first woman president of the free world.

Being a women champion and a communication enthusiast J, the 2016 US elections were somewhat of an adrenaline rush, to say the least!

I was very surprised with Trump’s win, and resorted to going back into time to understand how, what, where, when and why…this happened! It all went wrong, or did it? Anyway, here are key communication lessons to learn from the 2016 US elections: –


The biasness of the media was evident from the word go. Traditional press machinery was pro- Clinton and Trump was portrayed as a losing candidate from the day he announced his presidency. The media manipulation was at its peak and none was the wiser.

At an era where everyone can break news and give opinions, and online ‘viral-lity’ supersedes TV ratings, Trump governed the social media. If one is to sum up the positive support for Trump on social media vs. the support on traditional media, the clarity of who takes the bigger share of voice is rather…clear.

This is a perfect example of how the traditional media has been engulfed by the social media.

Lesson: Businesses cannot ignore the social media anymore-they must invest in the digital world to reach their customers, and engage with them at the level they understand, in informal shorter characters! There are new influencers in town, and they are SOCIAL! They help shape opinions and influence reactions intimately and organically.


It’s a new world, calling for new ways of thinking, new ways of doing things; the novelty in the air is invigorating! You cannot put people in a box based on what ought to be anymore because with every second that passes, people’s perception and mindsets are evolving at a steadfast pace.

The normal norms are no longer. Lets look at everything around us… what is normal? From dress codes, to social conduct and languages that uses symbols to tell a paragraph, normality is dead! RIP

Hilary Clinton presented the “normal” candidate. Her dress code, speeches and mannerism were that of a typical politician, (well-informed on issues and policies)-whereas, Trump was trumping, from his outrageous behavior and code of conduct to his shocking lack of information on anything substantial. I did however enjoy his use of big words though. And by big I mean adjectives that emphasize like; massive, beautiful, amazing, tremendous, spectacular, et al! Now this is a language we can all understand, right? Well, clearly the voters seemed to understand his anti-establishment message put simply.

Lesson: In order to thrive, businesses should communicate in the same manner as their customers otherwise how else would they understand you? People don’t have time to analyze messages. At an era where the use of technology to simplify life is advancing rapidly so should communication campaigns be! Tremendous time!


The polls got it massively wrong!! Is it that polling techniques are outdated or people just do not care to participate in them anymore? Wait a minute: was polling advanced enough to include sms, whatsapp, Facebook, twitter and emails or is it still just COLD CALLING?? Mmmmhhhh! SMH!

Well, we have been told after the elections that the polls were ‘fool-proof’ but most Trump-leaning moderates were either non-committal in participating in the polls or they ignored them outright. This argument however, holds no water: why for instance, did these pollsters who are the ‘best in the world’ fail to reveal the apparent apathy to the polls from Trump’s sympathizers before the elections?

These could be mere insinuations from the US media (the likes of Washington Post and others) in order to save face from the resultant humiliation! But again, I might be wrong but am afraid, I could be right!

This is year 2016 when everything is almost about touching and sliding. Even pressing is becoming too difficult to handle unless the key travel fall is at a minimum.

Lesson: Yes research is still very important to business development. We must however consider capturing people’s emotions and sentiments. There are underlying reasons why people behave the way they do and perhaps businesses should invest more in articulating those underlying behaviors and taking them into consideration instead of the usual “face value” researches conducted.

Here, we are talking about the ‘new normal’ in a fast changing global “everything” landscape.


The world focused so much on Trump’s imperfections and we let it blind our rational judgment of reality. With every news he broke, Trump gave us more negative things to talk about, which made us believe that the only direction he was heading was down.

The usually gullible masses were ready, this time round, to acquiescence to ‘going down’ with an ‘outsider’ (Washington has its own self-proclaimed Political Elite) and try out an ‘inexperienced’ Trump than continue ‘going down’ with an ‘experienced’ insider-talk of playing the Russian roulette!

If we were objective with our judgment we would have seen that Trump had the ear of his supporters. His message resonated and related to most voters. The American people were tired of the ‘normal’ establishment, and of getting the same promises, and not seeing changes, of not realizing the overly promised American dream.

Lesson: we should not take things on face value. We should not run campaigns that take things for granted, because we assume to know best based on how things look. KYC  – know your customers. We should not assume to do so. We should remain rational and objective irrespective of our personal feelings and emotions. In other words, the only feelings and emotions that count are those of our customers!


Having witnessed Trump endure one scandal after the other and still win the presidential seat got me thinking: does this mean that people are more forgiving nowadays? Or is it that thanks to social media, the world gets to see so many people make mistakes and hence the demise of the picture perfect phenomena; that what is scandalous has been redefined.

Lesson: What this means for businesses then is that people have seen it all, so much so that when we make mistakes what matters most is the comeback. How do we turn the mistakes into something remarkable? It could be how we talk about it, or what we do about it. In an era where we are seeing fans becoming protectors and gatekeepers for celebrities, companies can learn from this by investing and building fan bases that they can count on no matter what. In social terms this is called ride or die, I believe! How you engage your customers beyond your core products and services will help your business build a loyal fan base that will promote, protect and protest on your behalf.  In true Trump fashion and voice “If that’s not tremendously cool I don’t know what is!”

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