07/17/15

The 2016 Social Media Race: Snapchat

Election season for the presidential primaries is here, and it seems like everyone and their grandmoms have tossed their names into the nomination ring. And with the parade of candidates also comes the wave of new social media tools that millennial campaign staff members nominees are quickly adopting to reach younger voters and help their campaigns make a splash.

With Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube a given at this point, we take a look at the new platforms that have emerged, who’s using them, how they’re used for the campaign, and who’s leading the social media race. Today’s post focuses on Snapchat.

Source: Immediate Network

Snapchat has grown to nearly 200 million users since its launch in 2011. Users can snap a photo or a video, style them with a caption, filter, or drawing, and send it to a friend. The snap then disappears from the screen (unless you take a screenshot). Users have the option to tell a “story,” which can be viewed repeatedly within 24 hours before it disappears. The company also curates stories to its millions of users via Live Stories, a compilation of community snaps from users at the same event location.

Who’s using it: Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Martin O’Malley, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Scott Walker and Lindsey Graham are part of the growing list of candidates who have created Snapchat accounts to share updates from the campaign trail. Even without official active accounts, 2016 frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush have worked with the company to share their campaign kickoffs through Live Stories. Live Stories is also featuring ads from Scott Walker and John Kasich, visible to users in the four early presidential caucus and primary states Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

How it will impact the election: Presidential hopefuls are hopping on the Snapchat bandwagon as quickly as they can. Most candidates have used Snapchat to post their own stories each day to share with just their followers or broadcast special events via Live Stories. The app has allowed candidates to give that crucial 18-35 voter block a glimpse into official and unofficial looks into campaign life. It’s difficult to measure how impactful a nominee’s snap will be, as the number of followers or views isn’t easily available. Searching for and verifying your favorite candidates (let alone figuring out if they have an official Snapchat account to follow) have also been a challenge.

As the race heats up, users will likely find more campaign events, stories, major announcements, and political ads from candidates infiltrate the app, along with media updates from publications like the Wall Street Journal and CNN. It’s already become a popular way for nominees to share the latest on the campaign trail, and snaps will continue to make their way into headlines, but don’t count on it for too many election metrics.

Who’s leading: While Senator Paul was the earliest to adopt the app in January 2014, more than a year before his presidential bid, Bush may have an edge against contenders as he’s the first to partner directly with Snapchat to launch a presidential campaign, and one of the few candidates to share news beyond followers to the larger Snapchat community via Live Stories. But don’t discount Clinton, who’s been actively using Live Stories as well and is one of the frontrunners on the other platforms.