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Zuckerberg Called Trump to Congratulate Him After He Won in 2016
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20 Jul 2018 05:07 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Mark Zuckerberg (Image source: Presidência do México via Wikimedia Commons)

 

This is something that just doesn't paint Mark Zuckerberg in a pleasant light. Not that it matters so much which side of the political aisle he sits on, but it does matter if he makes certain choices for his social media company based on who he'd rather see win the election because it's good for his business.

 

There's no doubt that the 2016 election, Donald Trump ultimately winning, and the first 18 months of the resulting presidency has been good for Facebook. It's hard to read through your newsfeed without reading news items, seeing funny memes, watching lampooning videos — all having to do with Trump. 

It's been a great few years for Facebook. Earlier we learned that Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data to influence the 2016 election, and this was with Zuckerberg's knowledge.

 

Now to compound that, Zuckerberg called Trump after the election to congratulate him. It's certainly within his right to do that, regardless of where his politics lie. However, being that Trump's win has been fantastic for Zuckerberg's business, it just doesn't look good. 

Sources have told BuzzFeed News that Zuckerberg placed a secret, previously-unreported call to Trump and congratulated him on a successful campaign, one that had spent millions of dollars in advertising on Facebook.

 

Facebook has not publicly acknowledged how well Trump used their platform to reach voters, but they have celebrated internally how successful his campaign was in their use of Facebook advertising.  

Buzzfeed News interviewed Trump campaign staff and former Facebook employees and also obtained company presentations and memos showing that the social network viewed the president's campaign as an innovative approach to marketing.

 

Facebook used this successful campaign to create a marketing model they call "Test, Learn, Adapt," and they currently use it to assess their own advertising. Buzzfeed believes it shows they view Trump "not just as a potential regulator or a source of misinformation, but also, above all, a valued customer." 

According to a note from late last year, the Trump campaign was able to sway votes via Facebook advertising with a "rapid testing approach."

 

These lessons from the campaign have been used for Facebook's "Here Now" advertising push to lay to rest the privacy concerns of their users, as well as the large amount of fake news that gets published.  

"In reality, Facebook loved us during the campaign," said Gary Coby, Trump's 2016 campaign director of digital advertising and fundraising and RNC director of advertising. "Their team was heavily involved because it was a great learning experience and [Hillary Clinton's] team was not doing much."

 

Facebook did tell BuzzFeed that their company gave the same support to both the Trump and Clinton campaigns. "While we offer insights into how our products work and provide technical support, campaigns make their own decisions about how to use our tools," said Katie Harbath, Facebook's global politics and government outreach director. 

However, Trump's campaign isn't happy with the fact that Facebook doesn't want to go public with their success. "I believe Facebook was a great platform for the president," said Brad Parscale Trump's 2020 campaign manager and the digital director of the 2016 campaign.

 

"I'm completely disappointed that Facebook won't step up and announce to the world how well we used the platform and that we changed the way Facebook advertising will work in the future." 

Bloomberg reported earlier this year that Clinton spent $28 million from June to November 2016 with 66,000 different ads. Trump, however, spent $44 million during that time, with 5.9 million different ads. It was reported that the Trump strategy was "more complex than Clinton's and better leveraged Facebook's ability to optimize for outcomes."

 

But it goes deeper than that, as Facebook provided help to the Trump campaign. The social network admitted to Buzzfeed that they "provided advice on best practices, including insights on which ad formats were generating the best performance results and how to use their insights to determine best strategies."  

"They should have been out celebrating our work like they did with Bernie and Obama," Coby said. "They gave us the same tools, but we took it to another level and showed them how to use their own platform in a way commercial and political marketers haven't seen before."

 

It's no surprise, given that Facebook not only did great business during and after the campaign, but also learned how to do their own business better, that Zuckerberg called to congratulate Trump. And while Trump makes more public use of Twitter, it seems he has a lot to be thankful for with Facebook as well.

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