Social Media’s Impact on the 2016 Presidential Election


Since the last presidential election in 2012, the digital space has transformed the way we talk about and understand politics. President Obama recently took over the White House’s official Instagram account when he travelled to Alaska. He took a photo while he was flying over Alaska and wrote, “Hey everyone, it’s Barack.” Not only has our current president been active on social media, the 2016 presidential candidates have also been diligently executing their social media strategies in hopes of winning America’s vote.

The 2016 presidential candidates are faced with the challenge of determining which social media platforms they should use and what content they should share on each platform. More platforms have become popular since the 2012 election: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and even Snapchat. Many more voters, especially millennials that can now vote in the upcoming election, prefer videos and live-streaming content.

Candidate Ted Cruz live-streams his appearances on Periscope. Marco Rubio records “Snapchat Stories” on his stops along the campaign trail. Jeb Bush makes announcements using Instagram videos. Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham create videos for their Youtube channels. Ben Carson actively uses Twitter to engage with his followers. Hillary Clinton shares photos of her childhood on Snapchat, and let’s not forget about Donald Trump. Trump uses Twitter to stir up heated conversations and to draw peoples’ attention to his views and ideas. These candidates are all over social media, but one thing they must all keep in mind is that whatever they say can make or break them in the matter of milliseconds.

The presidential candidates and their campaign teams see the importance and need for a strong social media presence, while placing a lot of care on what they do and do not post – most of the time, anyway. Each social media platform is helping them connect with their audiences on a more personal level. Recently, Hillary Clinton and her campaign team have been using Snapchat to humanize her. While students were heading back to school, she shared a throwback photo on her “Snapchat Story” saying, “Here’s to the nerds. Happy first day of school!”

Regardless of your political stance, Hillary Clinton and her campaign team have been doing a good job in coming up with ways to soften her image and make her more relatable to Americans.

As the 2016 presidential race continues to get more cutthroat, we will see how each candidate uses social media to connect with voters and increase his or her chance of winning the election.

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Account Executive Megan Healy. 

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