Inside Hillary Clinton's Digital operation

Story highlights

  • Presidential campaigns have begun elaborate social media campaigns
  • Staffers see themselves as content creators on social platforms

New York (CNN)Videographers, designers, writers, social media specialists, motion graphics artists create a perfect recipe for ... a presidential campaign? Welcome to the election that's moving beyond social and towards content creation.

"I definitely think we are a production company," Katie Dowd, the digital director for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, said during an interview inside Clinton's campaign headquarters in Brooklyn.
"We are producing our own content and we are thinking about how to make it viral, how to make it successful," she said.
    Dowd, who was Clinton's new media director during her 2008 campaign, said the function of a campaign's digital operation has evolved over the last 10 years.
    This also signals a new challenge for campaigns. There is a heightened pressure to go "viral" and snag the attention of younger audiences across social platforms, a portfolio of which expands far beyond just Twitter and Facebook and now onto newer apps and platforms like Snapchat and TheSkimm.
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    Several 2016 campaigns are also experimenting with Snapchat, some with their own accounts, and others appearing in stories curated at larger political events, like the Iowa Hall of Fame Dinner. Both Clinton and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders submitted snaps for the Iowa story:
    Dowd saw Clinton's snap as a success.
    "I think our ability to do a Snap from her, put it on this platform, we're able to reach millions and millions of people, we saw a really positive reaction. I think that's a win," she said, noting the campaign only recently joined the platform.
    "Snapchat is a platform we definitely want to be on," she said, noting they recently hosted a Snapchat discussion on college affordability.
    Here is Clinton's introductory snap:
    But not all the focus is on Snapchat. Candidates are also tailoring content and outreach on the platforms that work best for them.
    Clinton, for example, has the largest Twitter following compared to opponents. She frequently uses the platform to engage and react on key policy issues:
    And she features user generated "H" logos on their Instagram to build a community.

    Happy brunching. (via blainemarie_ on Twitter)

    A photo posted by Hillary Clinton (@hillaryclinton) on

    Republican candidate Jeb Bush's team is producing native Facebook videos.
    And they have begun a Youtube series #JebNoFilter to engage his audience. #JebNoFilter is intended to show a more candid behind the scenes candidate, one of which has a (maybe forced?) pop culture reference to Sharknado 3.
    Sanders is capitalizing on his grassroots popularity on Reddit, where a subreddit dedicated to the Vermont senator has amassed a hefty following in comparison to his contenders.
    Kenneth Pennington, digital director for the Sanders campaign, says, "More broadly, our social media strategy in general is reach out directly to people" and Reddit provides a platform where campaigns can talk directly to people.
    With the onslaught of platforms, and the appetite among young, social audiences, for visual content, Dowd says, "There is a constant need to want to be current and educational and inspiring and relevant in terms of how we put content in front of people."
    "There's certainly a competition for eyeballs," she said.