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Smile, you’re on Snapchat. (Photo: Sky News).
What do Jeb Bush’s campaign kickoff speech and the annual Electric Daisy Carnival have in common? Come Monday afternoon, both will have been featured in Snapchat’s Story feed.
That’s when the former Florida governor will announce his much-anticipated bid for the Republican presidential nomination at Miami Dade College. But long before his supporters file into the campus’s Theodore R. Gibson Health Center, Snapchat-dedicated staff will be taking photos and videos of the stage preparation, food trucks and soundtrack, which they’ll quickly curate, and then send to a public feed on the app.
“Everyone was excited about the opportunity to reach a broad, younger audience, give people a more authentic view of what happens at an announcement,” Bush’s communications director, Tim Miller, told Yahoo News. “Jeb is a tech nerd of sorts, so he is always wanting to use the freshest tools.”
Snapchat first introduced its live story feature in June 2014 at the Electric Daisy Carnival, a Las Vegas festival known for its marquee electronic music performances and the occasional drug overdose. The location-based tool sets up a digital fence around the parameters of a certain event or city to filter all public snaps into one continuous feed. So, at Bush’s event, it might grab photo or video from students nearby, supporters in the crowd, or journalists. Anyone using the app can then watch a curated feed of those images within the app. Since its launch last year, Snapchat has used the feature to highlight the collective experiences of its users at everything from college football games to daily life in New York.
In the already highly competitive race to the White House, presidential candidates have looked to reach new audiences via social networking sites and apps. Though virtually every 2016 candidate has Facebook and Twitter accounts, others have attempted to build audiences on lesser known platforms. Hillary Clinton recently shared a similar Snapchat Story at her recent campaign speech on Roosevelt Island, and later added footnotes to the script with the help of the annotation website, Genius (formerly Rap Genius). Marco Rubio is the only candidate with a Pinterest page. And Rand Paul has subjected himself to user interviews on both Snapchat and the live-streaming app Periscope.
But Bush is the first of the candidates to partner directly with a company like Snapchat for the launch of his campaign, working with the L.A.-based tech company to promote the event under the “Live” feed section on the smartphones of its 100 million daily active users. This will give the candidate access to the elusive young audience that all the contenders are clamoring to reach, as the majority of the app’s users are estimated to be between 18 and 34 years old. Snapchat even gave Bush his own filter, pictured below.
The partnership is proof that candidates no longer simply need the endorsement of fellow politicians and wealthy benefactors. They now must also rely on the support of the tech companies that control how people communicate.
A representative from Snapchat said the feed will appear shortly before the event. The doors for Bush’s launch open at 1pm and the kickoff starts at 3pm.