Presidential candidates took to Snapchat, the popular photo and video-sharing app, as they celebrated the nation's birthday. Out of the 14 GOP candidates, seven are already actively using Snapchat to boost their campaigns.
Start with Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He posted candid pictures of a chance meeting with fellow presidential contender and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, along a 4th of July parade route in Amherst, New Hampshire. Meanwhile, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley posed for the camera at the parade in Independence, Iowa, standing next to a woman dressed as a giant ear of corn.
Snapchat is a photo and video-sharing service with a catch: The content you, or a would-be president, send to "friends" disappears within seconds of viewing. Since late 2013 users have been able to create "stories" or personal video montages that are available to all of their friends for viewing. The stories last for 24 hours before disappearing into the ether.
Beginning with a 2011 launch, Snapchat has ballooned into a major player in social media. According to the company, its app has nearly 100 million daily active users, and over 2 billion video views occur every day on the mobile platform.
For politicians, perhaps the most important aspect of Snapchat's demographic is that 60 percent of its users are between the ages of 13 and 34, a critical voter demographic for the next two presidential elections.
President Obama started it
It was during the last two presidential elections, of course, that social media started played a big role in campaigns. President Barack Obama used the then-new Facebook and Twitter to reach younger voters.
This time around, Snapchat is the place to find the nation's youth, and the potential for social media to sway voters is understood. "At the moment 2016 Republican candidates are trying to make up from past failures in being slow to adopt social media tools, so they are all over it," said Bianca Prade, vice president of SKDKnickerbock, a public relations and political consulting firm.
Prade listed some of the candidates building the strongest social presences on Snapchat. "Many point to Jeb Bush announcing his run for president on the tool as an example. Rand Paul was even earlier than that," said Prade. The Bush campaign worked with Snapchat to create a custom-curated feed to capture and promote his presidential announcement.
For all the GOP candidates' Snapchat efforts, they have a formidable rival in Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. "I think the most creative use comes from Hillary Clinton, who did a wonderful job crowd sourcing photos from campaign rally attendees and then compiling them into a live story," said Prade.
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