Clinton’s Social Candidacy: A Sign of the Times

If Hillary Clinton wins next year’s election, she will become not only America’s first female president, but the first president to announce her candidacy via social media.

Yesterday, Clinton uploaded a new video onto YouTube, “Getting Started,” which focuses on preparation: moving, pregnancy, engagement, graduation, new businesses. “I’m getting ready to do something, too,” Clinton says, halfway through the video. “I’m running for president.”

In less than 24 hours, the video has been viewed nearly 2.9 million times and almost as many times on her Facebook page. The same announcement has also garnered more than 105,000 retweets.

“Constituents now go to social media to get the latest information about their candidates,” says Jim Fowler, chief executive (CEO) of Owler, an online resource that provides information on business’ competitors. “It’s not only imperative that candidates have a presence there, but it is actually a communication artery for today’s political and business leaders.”

President Obama was the first presidential candidate to embrace social media, with an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and MySpace.

“[The president] took social seriously and saw it as the community vehicle of the future,” says Tania Yuki, CEO of social media content solutions platform Shareablee. “He wasn’t using social just to fish where everyone else was fishing; he was using social very strategically to align his campaign around a few key issues and talking points. He really went beyond the broadcasting mentality.”

While Rand Paul is an active Instagrammer and Marco Rubio, who announced that he’s running earlier today in Miami, recently opened a Snapchat account, Clinton has by far the strongest social media presence of the four candidates. Her Twitter following is 3.34 million, more than quadruple that of Rubio, who trumps each of his fellow Republicans Rand Paul and Ted Cruz by at least 150,000 followers.

However, Clinton is still very much a polarizing figure. With the recent email scandal still fresh in people’s minds, #Hillary2016 and #WhyIWontVoteForHillary were both trending on Twitter. Her logo, too, was also facing much ridicule.

During controversy, social can be just as much of a blessing as it is a curse, according to Yuki. “Many people worry about social because of the capacity to unleash vitriol. The controversy is already there and the feelings are already there,” she says. “Social makes it transparent, but it also makes it possible to reach out to people and almost get a second chance to communicate with people. Other than going door-to-door, there’s really nothing else like it.”

She adds that while every candidate gets a spike in social mentions shortly after their announcements, it’s up to them to continue the conversation. Given how much social media has exploded in the last four years, it would make sense for the next president to follow in his or her predecessor’s footsteps.

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