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2016 White House Hopefuls Branding Themselves as Socially Savvy

As the 2016 race for the Oval Office continues, candidates on both sides of the political aisle are attempting to connect with millennials through the use of savvy social media marketing. From new live streaming apps like Periscope to more traditional platforms like Facebook, everyone from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump is seeking to gain a foothold with the younger demographic by meeting them right where they are. From a marketing and branding perspective, it’s certainly interesting to watch.

Social Taking Center Stage

The shift from radio to television to the internet has been a definitive one over the past few elections, but the 2016 campaign is certainly the most socially savvy one in history. Not only are voters and internet users using these mediums to express their opinions and share stories with their followers, but the candidates themselves are using sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Periscope to engage with young millennials and hip baby boomers. 

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for campaigns and political advertisers to reach audiences through traditional methods,” said Brian Donahue, CEO of a Washington D.C. based agency that does advertising for political campaigns. “The most rapid area of growth is in digital and social media. It has been extremely effective.”

We saw glimpses of this effectiveness in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns, when Barack Obama successfully leveraged Facebook to target fringe voters. But there is one aspect of social media marketing that’s seen drastic changes since the previous election – video.

Power of Visual Content

As marketers have known for years, video is the present and future of successful social marketing. Platforms like YouTube, Vine, and Periscope are completely dedicated to video, while traditional players like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are investing a lot of their resources into fully integrating video into their networking experiences.

In one of the more famous examples of video campaigning, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham responded to Donald Trump, giving out his personal cellphone number by posting a YouTube video titled How to Destroy Your Cell Phone. After putting a smack down on the phone, Graham then sent out a simple tweet that read, “Probably getting a new phone. iPhone or Android?” It’s moments like these  that today’s voters remember.

Despite being the youngest social media platform, Periscope has played a major role in 2016 campaigns, thus far. Hillary Clinton started the trend by live streaming her entire public speech at Roosevelt Island in New York. A few days later, Trump live streamed an event at the Trump Towers where he announced he would be running as a presidential candidate for the Republic Party. Others have jumped on board, too.

As of now, the race for the White House is wide open. The policies and stances will be established in government buildings and fancy boardrooms, but the 2016 election may be won by the figure who can best leverage social media.