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Snapchat During the 2016 Presidential Election

By Chloe Anello, Lizzie Young, Lindsay Destefano 

With the millennial vote being more important than ever in the 2016 presidential election, candidates and their campaign teams looked for meaningful ways to engage with this group of largely first-time voters. In the past four years, we have seen Snapchat become a huge player in the social media landscape, mainly because of the platform’s ability to connect brands with their fans in seconds. Unlike Twitter, Snapchat has been able to capitalize on this type of communication because it is mostly done through visuals, rather than the written word. This election cycle, campaigns capitalized on this, spending huge amounts of money on live stories, geofilters and sponsored lenses. On Election Day, we took a closer look at the final push being put out by both of the candidates and other big name brands.

Aside from the New York City story, the main live story was ‘It’s Election Day.’ Curated by Snapchat, the story featured celebrities, the candidates, and average Americans sharing their experiences from Election Day. This user-generated content ranged from people spotting the candidates on the street, to celebrities encouraging people to vote, to people proudly at voting sites.  As the night wore on, users continued to submit snaps to the story, most of them depicting where they were watching results come in, or what their plans were after the election.

Snapchat Discover channels have the ability to influence all Snapchat users who scroll through their Discover feeds. They are vital for influencing Snapchat users since followers are encouraged to interact with them and share content with their friends via Snapchat messenger. Throughout this presidential election, many brands shifted their messages and articles to align with trending topics and issues. Publishers created GIFS, videos, articles and “design your own” pictures to share to friends in order to stay relevant and part of the conversation during the presidential election. Jokes mocking Donald Trump’s bad reputation in the press, Hillary Clinton’s email scandals, Barack Obama’s term coming to a close and the Clinton vs. Trump rivalry are a few of the topics that have been covered by channels in Snapchat Discover this election.

CNN featured a Snapchat Discover channel surrounding the election throughout the day on November eighth. They provided information on key swing states  (or “battleground states”), refreshers on key topics like the electoral college and interactive, shareable stickers to send to friends via Snapchat. CNN is proving that big media outlets have a role to play on social media, and are furthermore creating content people are finding interesting and entertaining. Although social media is not the traditional source for news and political information, CNN is giving Snapchat users quick access to political topics and trending news on its Discover channel.

Another brand that took advantage of the younger demographic using the Snapchat Discover feature is Complex. The magazine created a Snapchat Discover channel, which focused primarily on issues that affected the majority of the Snapchat-using demographic, including college student debt. The Discover channel introduced each issue and featured two different responses: one for Hillary Clinton’s views on the issue and one for Donald Trump’s.

Geofilters and Lenses, a widely beloved feature of Snapchat, allowed supporters to show off their political side. Through the days leading up to and Election Day itself, filters encouraging people to vote featured phrases like “It’s up to you America,” as well as showing whether you support Trump or Clinton. A pro-Hillary Super PAC sponsored a Hillary-themed filter that turned you into Hillary in her signature pantsuit, telling voters to make sure they vote for her. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah created one where you can either become an elephant or donkey representing each party. Each of these Filters and Lenses engaged voters, but also made the election a forefront topic, which hopefully kept voting on millennials’ minds. The lenses were fun and interactive, and they also lightened the election mood despite how aggressive this cycle had been.

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Election Night Lenses

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Snapchat geotags on Election Night

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