Why 2016 Could Be the Snapchat Election

The app could become a powerful tool to reach the coveted 18-to-31 voter block.

Image courtesy of Getty Images.

There's a long road ahead before the 2016 elections, and yet as the early round of presidential hopefuls comes into focus—Hillary, Rand, Ted, and the gang— the most powerful player in the election might not be a politician or a donor.

Once known for now-you-see-'em-now-you-don't clandestine images, the smartphone app Snapchat is now being recognized as a powerful storytelling tool, which savvy candidates will be eager to leverage in the run-up to the election. While possible contenders are at the ready with first-wave social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, Snapchat may be the key to reaching the ever-elusive youth demographic, reports the New York Times. According to the Times, the app currently has a user base of 100 million, and many of them are in the 18-to-31 age range, a key group to 2016's contenders—think of it as a direct line to your most valuable audience, one that lives right in their pocket. That fact is clearly not lost on Snapchat leadership. Last week, the social-media upstart hired CNN political news reporter Peter Hamby to head up its news division.

It's no secret that social media has upset the traditional structure of news coverage, with Twitter emerging as a real-time source for reporting and commentary on current events. But Snapchat is hoping to take that dynamic one step further by exploring the creation of original content—content that's made specifically for the Snapchat platform. Experiments are already underway with Comedy Central, which provided the app with sketches from Key and Peele stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele to accompany Saturday's Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight.

It's too early to know what role Snapchat will play in the 2016 election. But it's safe to say that the pol who finds an effective way to harness Snapchat will have a definite edge over the competition.

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