Presidential candidates utilize social media for campaigns

Brooke Shimasaki and Claire Gilliland

The 2016 election is unlike any other as voters are now able to gain a more personal connection with candidates through posts, tweets, skits, and Snaps —  seeing them more as equals rather than the future leaders of the free world.

With media sites like Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, nothing is too personal for candidates like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

“They do that so people know how friendly they are,” junior Marisol Jaramillo said.  “They’re not robots who don’t actually care about anything.”

Because of the especially high number of candidates, Republican presidential hopefuls have turned to social media outlets in an attempt to encourage and reach out to millennial voters.

Campaign strategies have seen an abrupt shift from pamphlets to self-promoting Instagram posts and tweets.

“I believe that they post on social media to make more citizens aware of who they are and to win over voters,” senior Spencer Sommerville said.

Snapchat has played a large role in assisting the campaign by including “Live Feeds” of different campaign events such as speeches and debates.  The analytic firm ComScore estimates that 71 percent of Snapchat users in the United States are between the ages of 18 and 34; 45 percent of them are between the ages of 12 and 24.

Republican John Kasich became the first candidate to purchase a Geofilter on Snapchat, featuring Kasich’s campaign logo made out of bacon and the phrase “Good Morning New Hampshire! Kasich for President.”

Republican Jeb Bush used Snapchat to announce his campaign;  Rand Paul took advantage of social media to bring light to his stance on the U.S. tax code, and Bernie Sanders began #feelthebern on Twitter, improving his attendance at campaign rallies.

Democrat Hillary Clinton has made social media a large focus of her campaigning.

While often times posts on social media are spontaneous and on-the-fly, Bill Jasso, Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communication, points out the social media posts by Democrat Hillary Clinton are meticulously planned.

“The Clinton campaign has been very targeted and focused on specific issues and specific topics,” Jasso said in a CIO article.  “It has not been a run-of-the-mill, drive-by tweeting type of situation.  It looks as though it’s the execution of a strategy rather than just random [posts].”

Clinton had over one million “likes” on Facebook and four million followers on Twitter, while also maintaining an active role on Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat, but her popularity in the world of entertainment is not limited to social media.

Clinton has also performed joking skits on “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” appeared briefly on “Saturday Night Live,” and learned how to do the Nae Nae on “The Ellen Show.”

“This is a smart campaign to convince people to like her because Jimmy is a very popular entertainer and good publicity is important in politics,” Sommerville said.

Republican candidate Donald Trump is known for his comments about building a wall to keep illegal immigrants from entering the country.  This speech was widely spread across social media and television, and Trump responded to criticism on talk shows.

“Right now, the popular thing is Donald Trump and what he said about Mexicans and how he wants to send them back,”Jaramillo said.  “He doesn’t apologize for anything in the world.  He doesn’t know that it’s offensive.”

Other candidates have also appeared on talk shows to discuss their viewpoints on different political issues, like Republican Ted Cruz’s comments on same sex marriage on the “Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

But how successful this new campaign strategy is when many voters only know the candidates for their social media posts, not their stance on political issues, remains to be seen.

Sophie Gilliland contributed to this story.