It’s official: President Obama joined Snapchat, cementing his status as the most social media-savvy president ever.
Not that the bar was very high. Still, the Obama White House has outpaced nearly every other government agency when it comes to using new social media platforms to connect with the public. With roughly one year left in his presidency, Obama seems willing to try more online, faster. Last year, he joined Twitter and Facebook. The White House regularly uses its Medium channel to distribute visual-heavy messages. And Tuesday, for Obama’s last State of the Union address, aides will use the text-annotating site Genius to provide context for the president’s speech.
The White House’s debut on Snapchat (the user name is whitehouse) deliberately coincides with the State of the Union address.
“Tomorrow, our Official Story will take you behind the scenes of the White House’s State of the Union preparations, with footage and angles you won’t find anywhere else,” Joshua Miller, White House Director of Product Management, wrote in a blog post Monday.
“There are over 100 million daily active Snapchat users, and over 60 percent of American smartphone users between the ages of 13 and 34 use the platform. In light of the number of Americans who use the service to consume news and share with their friends, the White House is joining Snapchat to engage this broad cross-section of the population in new and creative ways,” Miller wrote.
Snapchat, which lets users trade messages that eventually disappear, is one of many social media platforms looking to gain traction in political circles. The application is arguably the buzziest social media product on the 2016 campaign trail, where candidates and political organizations regularly use it to target potential voters. Part of its appeal is the younger skew of its user base — if you know a millennial, they are probably on Snapchat — allowing campaigns to check a box in their efforts to reach a key political demographic.
The ephemeral nature of Snapchat’s content is part of its appeal, and it’s a great fit for politicos anxious to avoid anything that could mar their image. But, though followers won’t be able to save snaps from the White House, officials said they’ll still archive everything for posterity, in accordance with presidential records rules.
“With Snapchat as with other social accounts, we’ll be fully compliant with PRA requirements, saving and preserving snaps for archives,” an official told BuzzFeed.