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SNAPCHAT STRATEGY


Pioneering the use of Snapchat in a presidential election.
Surprising and delighting young people in the process.

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SNAPCHAT STRATEGY


Pioneering the use of Snapchat in a presidential election.
Surprising and delighting young people in the process.

15220228_10154690579503818_1299023546285008758_n.jpg

It all started in Cedar Rapids.


Architecting a major (but inconsequential) meme. 

It all started in Cedar Rapids.


Architecting a major (but inconsequential) meme. 

Chillary Clinton

For a July 2015 Iowa Democratic Party dinner, Snapchat asked the presidential candidates to submit a Snap for its "live story" documenting all aspects of the event. Although the campaign had not yet launched an official Snapchat presence, I was pulled into the project to concept a Snap.

We bounced around some ideas and thought it might be amusing if Secretary Clinton appeared to be drinking her beloved iced tea out of our recently-launched "Chillary Clinton" koozie from the campaign shop.


The final Snap

The concept morphed a bit and Secretary Clinton ended up saying a line that will live on in infamy (like in this Vine that has over 34 million loops):

I’m just chillin’ in Cedar Rapids.
— Hillary Clinton // July 17, 2015

HQ reaction...

We were a bit surprised, but also thought it was kind of adorable. Our experience with Snapchat was just beginning, though.

HQ Cedar Rapids Reaction
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Our approach to Snapchat


Rethinking how a politician should use the platform.

Our approach to Snapchat


Rethinking how a politician should use the platform.

How others used it

When we launched our official account in August 2015, we weren't the first campaign to do so. Several Republican candidates had been using it, but they all were using it the same way: documenting stop-by-stop campaigning with very little consideration for how entertaining or informative the content was. We also knew having Secretary Clinton be front and center in every single Snap would quickly become boring and could lead to other mishaps like the one in Cedar Rapids.


A different approach

We saw Snapchat as an opportunity to break out from the pack by experimenting with different formats, styles and subject matter. Our approach can be broken down into three buckets:

Day-in-the-life content

While most similar to how others used the platform, it was still valuable to us in that we could allow an unfiltered, behind-the-scenes look at Hillary Clinton as a person and a candidate. Our traveling videographer (and my Snapchat partner in crime), Julie Zuckerbrod, Snapped from the road as she was always with the candidate and had full access and clearance at campaign events. In other instances, we handed the account off to surrogates like Cory Booker and President Bill Clinton.

Produced content

This was unlike anything being done at the time by an individual and was closer to how some publishers like BuzzFeed and NPR were using the platform. We posted stories breaking down complex policy issues, sassy Snaps dragging Republicans and engaging prompts asking for followers to submit responses.

HQ + states content

This last bucket gave us a chance to showcase the massive, diverse group of people working to elect Secretary Clinton across the country. We did everything from multi-state coordinated account takeovers to spur-of-the-moment Snaps at our HQ in Brooklyn when something interesting was happening.

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Day-in-the-life content


An unfiltered look at Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail.

Day-in-the-life content


An unfiltered look at Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail.

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Produced stories


Low-fi, but high impact messaging to young people.

Produced stories


Low-fi, but high impact messaging to young people.

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Snaps from the states + HQ


The people, places and things of a 50-state campaign.

Snaps from the states + HQ


The people, places and things of a 50-state campaign.

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How we promoted it


It's best coming from others.

How we promoted it


It's best coming from others.

Re-tweets

We realized early on that if Hillary Clinton was constantly promoting her own Snapchat account, we'd get hit for pandering (per usual). So, we adopted a strategy of re-tweeting young people who took to Twitter to praise the content of a story. In the short term, it drew eyeballs, followers and press buzz to a story and in the long term it encouraged people to tweet when we posted so they might be the one to get a RT and follow from Hillary Clinton.


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When we updated the campaign's official website in July 2016, our tech team added a direct follow button for Snapchat when viewing on mobile. This led to a major bump in followers as millions of people visited the site each month.


Engaging with followers

Another tactic I used to generate buzz on Twitter was to engage with Snaps people sent us and follow back. More often than not, those people would go on to tweet about it.

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Key Collaborator


✨ Team work makes the dream work. 

Key Collaborator


✨ Team work makes the dream work. 

 
JZ--Snapchat

 

Julie Zuckerbrod

Traveling Videographer
&
Snapchat Partner-in-Crime

 
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Press Coverage for Snapchat


Press Coverage for Snapchat


In August, Hillary Clinton launched her own Snapchat account and quickly became a leader among the presidential field in using the platform in an innovative, engaging way.
— MSNBC // December 28, 2015
Many candidate Snapchat accounts, such as those of Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, focused largely on documenting the candidates’ days on the trail with behind-the-scenes photos. But Clinton’s campaign used the app’s Stories feature to post highly produced content each day that sometimes informed followers about Clinton’s policy positions, and sometimes shared lighter content...The Clinton campaign used youthful slang to engage with the millennials who make up the core of Snapchat’s user base.
— MSNBC // December 28, 2015

I had one friend who used Snapchat as her primary means of communication...The app created a space for her personality and creativity to flourish. The same kind of thing seems to be going on with Hillary Clinton, or, at least with the bright and wonderful minions she’s hired to manage that part of her public persona. I don’t know if Clinton’s strong snap game is enough to clinch the all-important youth vote, but it’s enough to make me follow her religiously, if only on an app.
— The Stranger // October 7, 2015


Sure, it might seem strange to think of the 68-year old former Secretary of State as a dominating force on a platform populated by teens. But throughout the 2016 election, Clinton and her digital team have demonstrated an uncanny ability to snap at a level usually reserved for the DJ Khaleds and Kim Kardashians of this world.
— Fusion // May 11, 2016

Critics of Hillary Clinton have tried to peg her as out of touch...But if there’s one certifiably young thing Clinton understands, it’s Snapchat ... throughout her time on the social network, she has learned a thing or two about using the perfect filter, and, more fittingly, tearing down Republican rivals...You won’t want to waste any more of the election not following her.
— Bustle // August 2, 2016

The strategy has also freed Clinton’s team to use emerging social platforms in the way they were designed to be used. While Marco Rubio’s designated Snapchatter broadcasts a behind-the-scenes photo of Rubio’s debate lectern (behold: his pad of paper!), Clinton’s team creates Snapchat stories that read like bright, emoji-laden flip-books.
— Slate // December 21, 2015

The campaign also has a vibrant Snapchat account, where it posts ‘stories’ with a central theme, such as attacking Mr. Trump’s statements about immigration or explaining Mrs. Clinton’s college plan.
— The Wall Street Journal // July 28, 2016