How Snapchat is including record-numbers of young voters in 2016 Campaign coverage
As we discussed in class on Wednesday, politicians and campaign managers are struggling with how to reach the young voter. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 38% of 18-24 year olds voted in the 2012 election. This is the lowest voting rate out of every set of age ranges and this has been statistically true as far back as the 1960s. Additionally, the PewResearch Center has found that as of 2014, only 17% of young adults, ages 18 to 24, read any daily newspaper. So while young adults (18-24) have low voter turnout, are they even receiving pertinent information to be an educated voter?
Now, more then ever, politicians are striving to meet the young adult demographic where they hang out. Out of all social media, Snapchat is America’s fastest-growing smartphone app with more than 100 million users and has the largest millennial population out of all social media at 71%, of which 45% are in the 18-24-age range.
While Politico, The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed have fought there way into the ring as main informers on past presidential campaigns, Snapchat might be the new player in the 2016 political media game. Snapchat has hired CNN’s Peter Gamby to lead its political news division, but instead of merely serving as a social platform to push out content, this social media is creating its own content. And it is also letting its users share their content as well.
Yesterday’s Campaign 2016 story on Snapchat presented the following information on the Iran Nuclear Deal:
- “President Obama’s groundbreaking deal to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons is the political spotlight this week.”
- “What does Iran get? The U.S. and other countries have long punished Iran with ‘sanctions’—refusing to trade with the country. Many of those sanctions will end, boosting Iran’s economy with billions of dollars.”
- “What does the United States get? Iran drastically cuts its stockpile of nuclear materials. Iran must agree to inspections from international nuclear experts.”
- The story also featured images and videos of Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Ben Carson.
- Jeb Bush and Ben Carson were the only two candidates that posted a video themselves speaking directly to Snapchat viewers.
Is there value in campaign coverage through Snapchat? I think absolutely yes. I think it is a conversation starter. I think it is a thought provoker. Snapchat can reach a record-high number of young voters on a medium they like and spend a lot of time on. It offers basic bare-bone information, such as the information about the Iran deal above. And while Snapchat contributes content, users can create their own content. Yesterday in class, one student said they wanted the information to come from our peers. We trust each other. Our peers should be the medium. Snapchat enables that. We can see videos that our peers are taking at presidential rallies. We can see videos of our peers discussing politics. And we can join the conversation ourselves by sending in our own snaps. Then lastly, in addition to the millennial reach and peer-provided content, we can feel connected in a real way to our candidates. Marsha Scott spoke heavily about politicians during the 1960s and 1970s having to go out and meet people. Times have changed and shaking every voter’s hand is not possible. But we can watch their Snapchat. Unlike commercials or even filmed and edited YouTube videos, these are raw 10-second clips taken with a smartphone. I may not get to shake Ben Carson’s hand but I can feel that personal connection with his unedited, raw 10-second talks on his smart phone to voters.
Politicians and campaign managers are struggling, more than ever, with how to reach the young voter. Snapchat has solved the problem. On Snapchat, candidates can meet the millennials and millennials can meet the candidates. While I don’t think 10-second clips are adequate to determine which candidate you will vote into the presidential office, I think it is a great conversation starter and thought provoker. Hopefully, Snapchats will offer a small light into campaign coverage, create interest in politics from young voters, and to lead them to look for more information about these candidates.