Early Saturday morning before the 2016 New Hampshire Primary, I traveled to Manchester, NH to attend the Republican Presidential Debate hosted by Saint Anselm College.
Having watched nearly every previous debate at home on television, I wondered how my in person experience would differ and what role digital would play inside the room.
“Dual Screening” is Not Just for Those Watching on TV
Dual screening is a term that describes viewers who watch TV while simultaneously looking at another screen, such as a smartphone or tablet. Throughout the debate, I noticed that much of the audience in attendance was utilizing the dual screening approach. I found myself surrounded by people checking Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook all while watching and listening to the debate. It was evident that many people, including myself, wanted to engage and take part in an online conversation while also understanding the reactions of those watching outside the debate hall.
Join the Online Conversation
Whether you’re sitting at home or watching live inside the debate hall, joining the online social conversation around a major political event is becoming a fun trend for a wide audience to participate in. Getting a pulse on what others have to say around the country drives social interaction. Candidates are embracing this trend as evidenced by their efforts to engage with voters through various social networking platforms. Engage recently rolled out Scorecard, a real time snapshot designed to measure candidate’s social media activity and fundraising totals.
Snapchat is In
Snapchat recognizes the potential reach it has through each and every smartphone user. Given that the number of millennials who receive their news through it’s Curated Live Stories and original content continues to increase, Snapchat has the power to impact and influence how users view the candidates and issues. According to Snapchat, up to 8x the number of 13-34 year-olds view their “Live Stories” vs. TV for similar events.
Normally, I view the Debate Live Stories, but at this debate I had the opportunity to be a direct contributor. Having the ability to capture candidate interactions and moments when the television cameras were off allowed for several of the stories I uploaded to Snapchat to be selected and featured on the national Snapchat debate story. In total, my stories received almost 2 million views.
Here’s the breakdown:
I left the debate with a greater appreciation for the rapidly evolving digital landscape that is not only changing the political world, but also changing the way we consume and distribute content. Communicators have to adapt to new technology trends and content strategies to achieve success.
Whether this evolving landscape will make a significant difference at the ballot box in this presidential cycle still remains to be seen. However it’s clear that candidates must fully embrace digital and employ strategic social strategies if they want to gain votes from younger generations and expose them to new viewpoints and opinions. I am excited to continue to monitor each candidate’s social activity as we head towards November.