Politicians have targeted a new audience: Generation Z.
Their number one portal to reach young and potential voters is through social media.
Many social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have changed the way politicians campaign.
Barack Obama was the first presidential candidate to use social media successfully in his campaign by managing to gain over 5 million patrons on various social networks before his 2008 inauguration.
“He [Obama] has not just a political base, but a database, millions of names of supporters who can be engaged almost instantly,” said David Carr, the New York Times media columnist.
There are over 2.206 billion active users on social media according to SocialMediaToday. 1.925 billion of those users access social media websites and apps on their smartphones every day, more often than any campaign website.
Political campaign staff cut to the chase and instead of getting potential voters to Google their campaign websites, they release information on news feeds and timelines via social media networks.
The difference between the upcoming election and the 2008 and 2012 elections is that the majority of the social media users are old enough to vote.
82% of adults online are ages 18-29, have a Facebook and 52% have an Instagram.
Campaigning on just two networks with a single post would reach more young adults than traveling across the country on a campaign trail.
Donald Trump’s and Hilary Clinton’s Twitter following each exceed that of the opposing candidates from their respective parties.
Trump has 4.62 million followers and Clinton trails him with 4.51 million.
Posting on social media is an instantaneous way for candidates to speak and connect with their audience.
In the past, if there was a controversy or a topic that needed to be addressed to the public, a press conference had to be scheduled and people had to wait to hear about it on the news or newspaper.
Today a candidate can express their views or comments through a picture with a simple caption or a tweet in under 140 characters.
Along with the benefits to campaigning, there are risks on social media.
It is easy to berate someone on the Internet, yet even easier to share something by reposting or retweeting a negative comment.
It is more common for a politician to be mentioned through social media in a negative manner than it is a positive.
The hashtag “why I’m not voting for Hillary” is mentioned in over a thousand tweets on Twitter.
Trump’s “ask Trump” hashtag backfired on him when followers started to question Trump about his past controversies.
Politicians have to be extra careful about what they publish on social media due to the simplicity of some posts.
Clinton tweeted in August, “How does your student loan debt make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojis or less.”
This tweet did not please her followers when she received negative replies and retweets.
Twitter user, Ben Jacobs responded in his own way by tweeting to Hilary Clinton, “How does finally handing over your server to federal investigators make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojis or less.”
Social media is a way for politicians to seem transparent. It allows their followers and network “friends” to keep up with their political race on a daily basis.
It’s also another political battleground the next President has to win