What can brands and publishers expect from a political mention? We dive into the latest controversy, around Nordstrom and how it played out on social media. 

Tic Tacs. Skittles. Kelloggs. Uber. Starbucks. Nordstrom.

Each of these brands has seen a jump in social media engagement from being linked to the current political climate. Sometimes this is conscious, and oftentimes, such as in the case of Skittles and Tic Tacs, it is not. What does this mean for brands and the PR agencies that may represent them? How can they be prepared? We turned to NewsWhip Analytics to find out.

Analytics Brands Trump Social Media

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Nearly every spike in engagement for the brands on this graph had to do with the intersection of the brand with politics. Uber, which had the Uber driver killer in March 2016 and a grandmother Uber driver in August 2016, was the exception.

Some of these brands are already quite popular on social, but if we narrow it down to Tic Tac, we can see how big the political impact has been.

Analytics Brands Trump Social Media Tic Tacs

Social media activity around Tic Tacs skyrocketed after the brand’s mention during the presidential campaign. The activity went from well under 10,000 social engagements a month to over 90,000 in October 2016.

Let’s dive into one of the more recent mentions. In our first graph, Nordstrom sees the highest engagement spike for their February mention by Trump. So how is the current controversy playing out for the brand on social media?

Over 3.45 Million Engagements

From February 6th to 13th, 2017, Nordstrom has driven over 3.45 million engagements across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest on English language content. Compare this with a weekly average of 31,000 engagements in January 2017. This most recent week is over a 11,000 percent increase to that average.

Let’s look at some of the top stories and how they performed. Analyzing top stories platform-by-platform can yield different results, especially concerning stories about companies. Those on Facebook tend to be more emotive, while LinkedIn’s top stories tend to focus on the implications for the brand’s business.

This in mind, we looked at the top stories across Facebook against the top performing stories on LinkedIn.

Facebook Nordstrom Trump

Half of the top ten stories around the Nordstrom controversy on Facebook have been from political publishers. Four came from general news publishers, and one came from a celebrity news site, covering Chelsea Handler’s response.

Many of the top performing headlines are full of provocative action words:

Trump rips Nordstrom, Trump blasting Nordstrom, Chelsea Handler trolls Donald Trump, Nordstrom shut him up. Politics is already a heated topic, and these publishers are seeing engagements by stirring up strong emotions.

What about on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn Nordstrom Trump

The top story came from the Washington Post, on how Nordstrom’s brand has been the one brand not to see a fall in the stock market after a run-in with the current presidential campaign. More stories about ramifications of the political climate on businesses followed suit.

A noted difference here is that the top ten articles are coming from general news publishers, as opposed to those with a sole focus on politics. The top headlines on LinkedIn don’t carry the same emotional urgency as those on Facebook.

Celebrities Dominate Facebook

What about Facebook Pages? How did the controversy play out in statuses, photos, videos, and more, that were uploaded directly to Facebook? We looked at the top Facebook Pages containing mentions of Nordstrom from February 6th through 12th.

Facebook Nordstrom Trump

The top engaging pages were a mixed bag. Trump’s posts that spurred the controversy brought him to the number two spot, but Chelsea Handler’s response skyrocketed her to number one. Two highly partisan pages ranked in the top five — Donald Trump For President and Occupy Democrats.

General news publishers and The Hill made up the majority of the remainder, but TMZ snuck in at number ten. With a celebrity president and so many celebrities weighing in on current events, it makes sense that these publishers are also performing well.

Facebook Nordstrom Trump

The most engaging Facebook posts are almost all from the top Facebook Pages we just looked at. Trump’s initial post that kicked off the controversy is number two, behind Chelsea Handler’s reaction post.


The top posts cover a variety of angles — reactions to Trump’s post, what happened to Nordstrom’s stock, and how other businesses are handling Ivanka Trump’s fashion line.

One thing to note here is that six of the top ten posts were external links. In fact, 15 of the 20 most engaging posts around the Nordstrom controversy were external links. As publishers vie with social media platforms for web traffic, this is a positive trend.

Debate Centralizes on the Brand Page

Nordstrom itself ranked at 24 in our look at most engaging Facebook Pages. An innocuous post around Valentine’s Day became a meeting ground for users looking to centralize their debate.


The post came in at number 25 in Facebook posts around Nordstrom during the past week. Despite not speaking to the controversy, the comments referencing it were ubiquitous.

Facebook comments Nordstrom Trump

Brand ambassadors strived to remain nonpartisan in the comments, answering simple questions about the decision to no longer carry Ivanka Trump’s line. Despite this, users posted impassioned comments that led to hundreds of replies.

So how can brands navigate the current political landscape? Do brands need to pick a position? Whether they do or don’t, all brands must be aware that a political mention can bring them unexpected and significant buzz across social media.

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