Digital marketing has been seen as the key to unlocking the ever-reluctant young vote during this election cycle. Democrat party runner-up Bernie Sanders was a pioneer when he became the first ever presidential candidate to create a Snapchat account. Many soon followed suit. He also began effectively using live video (predominantly Facebook Live) as a means of giving his rallies around the country a wider audience.
Again, many have taken note. In the last weeks and months leading up to November 8th, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have had more days streaming on Facebook than days not. It's not just candidates that have embraced the tool either. New & old media alike such as AJ+, Mic, CNN, Cheddar & Sky News now regularly stream relevant and to-the-minute developing stories through Facebook Live, many of which are off the back of the election. They regularly gather in audiences in the hundreds of thousands.
Aside from Facebook's success with Live, Twitter last month announced their partnership with Bloomberg Media to livestream the 2016 US presidential election debates, as part of a wider strategy that focuses on live video as its saviour.
Those who follow the industry will know all about Twitter's ailments of late, with stagnating user growth rates and their share price now 33% lower than this time last year. Throughout 2016, all the signs have been there that livestreaming is seen by Jack Dorsey & co as very much the next dice to roll to try to reshape their fortunes. In July, they streamed both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, where Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton were both confirmed as their party’s respective candidates, and have also made a deal with the Premier League to show official goal highlights from each match.
In regards to the election itself, to say it’s been talked about heavily is somewhat of an understatement. It is something of an inescapable subject on social media. The company’s CFO, Anthony Noto said that “Twitter is where the 2016 presidential election is happening every single day”.
Indeed, this resonates even more so with their core demographic. More than 60% of its users are under the age of 25, and have accounted for around half of all 2016 election tweets. By engaging them with video (a medium particularly favoured among millennials), you increase scope for further engagement, further publicity and – hopefully – an end to stagnant user growth.
Marketers themselves have known for some time that video will become the most engaged-with form of content, with 70% having an expansion of video marketing in their plans for the next 12 months at the beginning of the year.
Whilst politics is a subject that most brands are wise to steer clear of engaging in so as not to deter customers with bias, it does act as a benchmark for where digital marketing is in terms of embracing video as a mainstream online medium for brands of all sizes. By demonstrating the appetite for video content (live or not), Twitter have shown brands an alternative marketing option through their platform. Indeed, of the estimated 70 million+ viewers of the first debate, Twitter's stream took a sizeable chunk of over 3 million views.
The exact impact that live video will have on this election remains to be fully gathered and analysed. What is certain is that the tectonic plates of how a modern election is run are shifting, and digital is a big part of that.
Written by Andrew Thomson