Image Credit: Tumblr

September 27, 2016; Adweek

On Tuesday, September 27th, which was National Voter Registration Day in the U.S., social networks Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter launched initiatives encouraging American citizens to register to vote in preparation for the upcoming election in November. As networks with younger audiences, these platforms are seeing their potential to influence their online users to get out and engage with national and local politics.

YouTube and Snapchat have partnered with the nonprofit TurboVote to launch campaigns around encouraging voter turnout. Here’s what some of the largest social media platforms are rolling out:

  • Instagram is collaborating with television networks targeting younger voters to further their reach, such as partnering with CBS News for live debate coverage through Instagram Stories, which will focus on millennials. Instagram is also working with CNN to gain more insights into what motivates young voters through their #MYVote campaign.
  • Tumblr has altered their dashboard page to feature a call to action for their online users to register on National Voter Registration Day until 11 p.m., highlighting that “Only 57.5 percent of eligible voters actually voted in the last election. And only 42 percent of eligible 18–29 year-olds. What’s at stake? Oh, just gun violence, racial justice, the Supreme Court, education, a living wage, health care, clean water, immigration, the war on drugs, legal weed, access to abortion, national security, the gender gap, trans rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and the right to love who you love.”
  • Twitter is pushing U.S. citizens to register to vote on their platform by rolling out a new #iRegisteredemoji Twitter users can use to tout their plans to get to the polls in the upcoming election. Twitter has also collaborated with Rock the Vote to introduce a new feature that allows any Twitter users with questions or concerns about voting to use directly message the @Gov account to receive voter registration assistance.

  • Snapchat is currently running public service announcements to promote voter registration until October 7th. These messages are delivered by well-known celebrities on Snapchat, including Jared Leto, Ciara, Ryan Seacrest, Jimmy Fallon, and Dwayne Johnson.
  • YouTube conducted some research with help from the nonprofit campaign TurboVote and discovered that registering to vote this year should only take 1 minute and 34 seconds. YouTube has featured a playlist of many prominent YouTubers completing various tasks in just 1:34, with each video encouraging users to navigate to the online registration page to make their vote count. The video platform also launched a campaign along with the hashtag #VoteIRL featuring many YouTube celebrities:

We’re seeing an interesting shift from voting advocacy being mainly a nonprofit sector focus to an issue both businesses and social networks are tackling. According to Pew Research, millennials have had the lowest voter turnout of any age group in the United States, and only 46 percent voted in the last presidential election. Could these social networks, with which millennials tend to engage on a daily basis, increase voter turnout this year? Will these social media giants be able to track their success to see if they can truly get this younger generation to the polls come November?—Aine Creedon