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Snapchat? Isn’t that the app 13-year-olds are using to text each other and college kids are using for sexting pictures? No, not even close.
In 2015, brands on Snapchat discovered the power of stories and the world of Snapchat changed forever. Not buying it? Let me give you some numbers to show you how on fire Snapchat is.
From May 2015 to January 2016, Snapchat’s daily videos grew 350 percent, from 2 billion (with a B) to 7 billion per day. Meanwhile, a total of 8 billion videos were viewed on Facebook. Snapchat is closing quick with an estimated 60 percent of voters under age 34 on the new platform.
Teenagers and college kids are often the first to adopt a social network, but Snapchat is quickly aging up. Facebook started as a platform for college students to interact with each other. But, as the average age of Facebook began to climb, the college kids jumped over to Instagram. Instagram soon had the same age range as Facebook. So in 2011, they started moving to Snapchat. Now the adults are beginning to ruin Snapchat for the kids.
So should campaigns push their talking points and press releases on Snapchat like they do on other platforms? Absolutely not. Snapchat is a storytelling platform that is unique from the others. The service is designed for those in-between moments; those quick glimpses that give you a sense of who a person is and what they’re really like. Snapchat is the ultimate video storytelling platform.
Let’s take a look at how a few Republican presidential campaigns are using it now.
Kasich is on the verge of having a decent campaign on Snapchat, but he also had what may have been the worst Snap video clip of the cycle this past week.
The Ohio governor’s campaign puts out a good amount of content. Some days Team Kasich only has two or three stories, but many days, they will post seven or eight times. While this is still not great, it’s much better than a lot of campaigns. They’re doing a good job using geo filters and text on his Snaps to help tell the story and showing momentum with angles of crowds that make them look large.
However, Kasich’s Snaps are all very impersonal, showing clip after clip of him talking to crowds. We never hear him talk to us, except at a distance. Who is the real John Kasich? From Snapchat, we have no idea.
The worst snap of the campaign?
Kasich also had one of the worst Snaps, if not the very worst I’ve seen from a campaign. The day after the South Carolina primary, Kasich arrived for a rally in Atlanta. According to the Snap story, there was such a large crowd he needed an overflow section. Kasich’s campaign set up for him to visit that overflow section, a smart move with great potential for content. But then the campaign posted a video in which Kasich said, “It’s good to see you all. I’m trying to figure out what you all are looking for.” That was it. It was not only an opportunity missed, but it was horrible storytelling. Who wants that to be the message the day after he had a disappointing performance?
Marco’s campaign also varies day to day with the content they are creating on Snapchat. Some days he will push a good amount and some days there are just one or two posts to his story. The campaign does do a good job of telling people to head to his website.
What is he doing right? Marco’s campaign did a good job leading up to the Nevada Caucus. The campaign showed local officials encouraging people to get out and caucus. They showed supporters gathering in the office and heading out to go door-to-door. They had some Snaps that gave the web address to find your local caucusing location. These were all right ways to use Snapchat. Most days, though, the campaign is not that good.
The place they are utterly failing is in showing who Rubio is as a person. The only time we ever see Rubio talk to us is when he is on stage prepping for debates and he tells the camera to tune in and watch tonight. Of all the candidates in this election, Snapchat was made for Rubio.
On most days, Ben Carson is posting the most content, but his content strategy is almost the same as Kasich. Not great. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump do not use Snapchat on a regular basis. Their content, when done, is very basic, boring, and not engaging at all. Ted Cruz recently did a Snap that showed Governor Abbott endorsing him. This could have been a big moment, but again, it was just the governor speaking from the stage. They should have taken 10 seconds to do a quick Snap with Abbott and Cruz talking right into the camera.
It is easy for me to sit at the keyboard of my Macbook and critique what they’re doing. The obvious question is, what would I do?
Let’s pretend the Koch brothers called me and said, we want you to help Rubio; we will make an in-kind contribution, you do what you need to do. (Note: I only pick Rubio because I think his personality would be Snapchat gold.)
I don’t know enough about him personally, so I’m going to make a few assumptions and tell you how I would handle a Rubio Snapchat campaign.
An example day
5:50 am I show a short video of Marco Rubio in the gym on the elliptical or lifting weights.
7:15 am I post a photo of Rubio eating his omelet talking on the phone to his kids.
7:30 am I hand the phone to Marco for a quick personal message. Notice, I do not film it for him, I have him hold the phone himself. Maybe he says, “Just got off the phone with the kids, I miss them, but so excited to be headed to Minnesota today.”
7:31 am Marco does a second Snap that says, “If you are going to be at one of my rallies today, snap me back and let me know which one.”
I would then go through the snaps he receives during the day and give a Thumbs Up emoji to those who did take the time to respond. Yes, a campaign engaging with a request directly from the candidate; think of Zappos or Southwest Airlines. They don’t let mentions go by without responding and interacting.
9:10 am I Snap a video of Marco on stage in front of the crowd. I use a geo filter to show where he is and add the text, “Wow amazing crowd! Snap us a video if you are here.”
9:11 am I follow that up with a Snap that says “First person to come find me wins this free Marco Coffee Mug.” When this person arrives we are both snapping on our accounts about the gift.
9:46 am After the rally, Rubio is on the line shaking hands, and I catch a six-second clip of Rubio talking to a Navy Vet in his USS hat. The text across the video says, “Navy Veterans love Marco.” And I use another emoji, maybe an anchor or a boat.
10:03 am I take a picture of Rubio backstage talking to the Mayor.
10:40 am A short video of Marco boarding a plane with the text, “Minnesota, here we come!”
11:02 am A picture of Marco huddled with his consultants and the text, “Going over numbers, they are looking good.”
11:30 am Marco takes one minute to have some fun. “Snapchat, here are my favorite Trump Tweets from the last 24 hours.” He then reads a couple. He finishes with, “Snap us your favorites and we will pick one and give away a free Marco hat.”
11:58 am In the airport, Marco takes the phone and says, “I just got off the phone with Senator _____ and he has announced he is going to endorse my campaign for President because he agrees we need to save the Republican Party for conservatives.”
2:30 pm A short video of Rubio saying, “About to sit down with Fox News for an interview, tune in and watch it.”
2:35 pm Short video of Rubio talking into the camera with Fox News.
4:40 pm A video of a Minnesota team member saying to the camera (with the long line, behind us), “This is amazing Marcomentum, I cannot believe we have this many people here.” Second video: “We have been working hard. If you are in Minnesota, join us for our phone banks.” Provide the website in the text.
5:28 pm While the announcer is getting the crowd fired up, Rubio speaks straight into the camera before he heads on stage. “The atmosphere in Minnesota is electric.”
5:35 pm I send a Snap of me with a Marco hat on, with the text, “First person to find me gets one of these hats.”
7:10 pm Video of Rubio as he eats dinner with some supporters, showing his human side.
8:45 pm A quick video of Rubio, again holding the phone in his hand saying, “Good night Snapchat. I’m off to read a book to my kids over Facetime. Let’s do it again tomorrow.”
So what did I do here? First we humanized Marco, a guy just like the rest of us. He works out, talks on the phone, eats, and reads books to his kids. He has a family he obviously loves and misses. What was the total time commitment for the candidate to pull this off? Less than five minutes in the day. And in those five minutes, he made a personal connection with those on the other end.
We also created interaction with the campaign and supporters. And the campaign will acknowledge every one of the Snaps they get back. It will be hundreds, true. But that is a small price to pay for the engagement you get and the dedicated fans who will make the calls, go door-to-door, and contribute $25 when you ask.
I believe Snapchat is the best way to get engagement from supporters and make connections with young voters. No one, not even the Democrats, are doing a good job on the platform.
I will mention one person you should be following on Snapchat: US Senator Steve Daines of Montana. The one area he’s missing is the interaction, but he is doing a great job of filling in those behind-the-scenes moments in Montana and DC.
Next week, we will talk about everyone’s favorite, Twitter.
Read the first post in my social media series here.