With 2016 presidential campaigns kicking into high gear, campaign teams are searching for the most effective way to advertise their candidate. Today’s campaigns utilize social media more than ever before.

In past elections, candidates were limited to Facebook and Twitter. Today, there are a plethora of social media sites available for political campaigns to use to reach the widest audience. The top sites – Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook – are changing how citizens view their presidential candidates.

Snapchat

Of the 14 current Republican candidates, seven have been using Snapchat to reach younger generations to boost their poll numbers. With nearly 100 million daily active users, Snapchat is often the social platform that can be overlooked in major campaigns. The largest percentage of users are between the ages of 13 and 34, making it a key medium for reaching millennials – a strategy that worked in President Obama’s favor in the 2008 elections.

Jeb Bush used Snapchat to announce his bid for president and his campaign team even worked with the social app team to create a custom-curated feed for his announcement. Other candidates have used Snapchat to showcase their engagement within communities, such as participating in local Fourth of July festivities.

 

Instagram

 

Thick-rimmed black glasses on Mayor Sanders in the 1980’s. Classic. #tbt

A photo posted by Bernie Sanders (@berniesanders) on

With Instagram recently surpassing 300 million users, it makes sense that political campaigns would want to tap into that primarily female dominated audience.

Currently, the frontrunner on Instagram is Donald Trump, with 447k followers, followed by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders with 333k and 245k respectively. Instagram helps candidates show off a side of themselves not often seen on the campaign trail. For instance, Chris Christie wishing his son a happy birthday or Hillary Clinton sharing photos with celebrities such as Kanye West and Kim Kardashian-West. One thing is for certain, if Snapchat is a place for candidates to show how “hip” they can be, then Instagram is the place for them to show how hip their friends are.

Thanks for a great night, @nbcsnl!

A photo posted by Hillary Clinton (@hillaryclinton) on

Facebook

Facebook has become the dominant platform in spreading information across all types of media. From pictures to videos to status updates, the platform allows for candidates to reach the widest number of voters.

I know you will enjoy reading my tax plan. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain

Posted by Donald J. Trump on Monday, September 28, 2015

One candidate that stands out amongst the campaign field on Facebook is Ben Carson. A rising candidate, Carson has more Facebook Likes than Clinton and Bush combined. The strategy his team uses includes: an overarching brand message, focusing on issues instead of viral stories, and encouraging users to comment and interact. During weeknights, Carson holds question and answer sessions on his page where he openly interacts with supporters.

Each social platform has its own focus in this election cycle. Snapchat emphasizes on live moments and how candidates interact with their supporters while Instagram focuses on a quick image reflecting a candidate’s lifestyle or message. Social media powerhouse Facebook allows candidates to spread the widest message, by mixing different forms of media and engaging with their audience. Candidates also utilize other popular platforms such as Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and even Spotify to reach voters, and each one offers their own unique take on the 2016 presidential race.

Do you have any thoughts about how millennials connect with brands today? Tweet us at @lotus823 or leave a comment below!

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Connor Zazzo is a 20 year-old student-athlete and junior at The University of Tampa. He is currently studying Communications with a focus on advertising and public relations. While interning with lotus823 he looks forward to learning and improving his knowledge of digital marketing. Some of Connor’s hobbies include competing on the University’s swim team and lifeguarding at beaches along the Jersey Shore.

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