Here’s How Social Media Will Impact the 2016 Presidential Election

The efforts of electoral candidates and their social media agencies seem to be concentrated towards winning affection of millennials.

So far, the run up to the 2016 elections has been, at various times, amusing or weird, but mostly interesting, thanks to social media. If not for this ever flexible, we wouldn’t have seen this hilarious Snap of Hillary chillin’, the world wouldn’t be same without those odd Trump-isms on Twitter, or worse, we wouldn’t have known what Scott Walker is eating!

If we are to believe the figures estimated by Borrell Associates, politicians will be allocating over 9 percent of media budget towards digital and social media — this comes to an estimated $1 billion. And don’t we all know for whom is this budget allocated for?

Long story short, the efforts of electoral candidates and their social media agencies seem to be concentrated towards winning affection of millennials (25 to 34 year olds), and although no one can say today which candidate is going to win the elections later this year, one thing is clear: social media is winning the elections today.

The Elections and Social Media

One interesting thing to note here is it’s not only candidates who are showing an affinity towards social media; websites like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Snapchat are doing their bit to warm up to politicos too.

Twitter, for instance, shut down two apps that showed tweets that politicians had deleted – if ever a social network pandered to political advantage, this was it. Twitter later formed an agreement with Politwoops. They even hosted a breakfast event in Washington rolling out the proverbial red carpet for election candidates. And they went on to partner with Square so people could tweet their donations to their preferred parties and candidates.

Eric Laurence, Facebook’s head of U.S. Industry for Politics and Government, once cited the benefits of their video advertising saying it was a “great way to reach and mobilize supporters and voters that candidates need to win elections.” He further added that “those voters are on Facebook,” which is not far off the mark, counting the 200 million U.S. citizens actively using Facebook. The company has a dedicated team which meets candidates and offers assistance with Facebook’s advertising services.

Even the fairly new entrants like Snapchat are proffering filters and 10-second video ads catered to political campaigns. The first few candidates to run ads on this platform were John Kasich, Rand Paul and Scott Walker. Snapchat even hired ex-Google leader Rob Saliterman, who led political ad sales during the George W. Bush administration.

Coming to the giant now, Google is a leader when it comes to 2016 elections. From sponsored links in Google searches, YouTube video ads and the new-fangled programmatic display ads on online publishing websites such as New York Times, presidential candidates have a lot of scope to reach out to right audience through Google.

Lee Dunn, who is heading the election campaign management team at Google told Glamour that YouTube will help candidates to target people based on their geographical locations, language, etc.:

2016 will become known for being the campaign of video content. People want authenticity and directness from candidates, and the best platform to provide that without a filter from the media is YouTube.

Clearly, the 2016 election candidates have woken up to social media and the social networks have woken up to the amount of cash at stake.

Now the question isn’t who is using social media, the question is who is using social media most effectively. People are watching candidates with hawk eyes, waiting for one wrong tweet…

What’s worse, candidates are continuously up to odd antics, trying to be “cool” so as to impress millennials. In fact, this might be taking them away from the precious presidential hot seat.