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Canadian PM Justin Trudeau gets on Snapchat. Should PM Lee follow suit?

Just yesterday, Adweek reported that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided to jump onto the Snapchat bandwagon. In fact the Canadian leader used Snapchat’s Live Story function, which showcases a series of user-generated content gathered at events ranging from photographs to videos, for a question and answer.

While western media is questioning if the recently appointed American president Donald Trump, known for his notorious Twitter tactics will soon follow suit, we wondered if this trend will take off closer to home.

Here in our tiny red dot, our very own Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his team have often been lauded for their social media skills. PM Lee currently boasts 280k followers on Instagram, 468k followers on Twitter and 1,150,247 Likes on his Facebook Page.

(Read also:Is a strong social media strategy humanising Singapore’s political leaders?)

However, with now Snapchat being a dominant player in the world of social, we pondered if our very own socially savvy PM would, and in fact should, consider the platform as part of his long term social media strategy.

Many social media players we spoke to regarding the matter suggested that making a move into the platform might not be a bad idea given that it isthe younger demographics that often lurk on the platform.

A study by Kantar TNS backed this up as it showed Snapchat doubling in usage in the space of one year in Singapore, from 19% in 2015 to 37% in 2016. It also found younger audiences being the biggest users of the platform, with 20% of users aged 16 to 24 currently on Snapchat.

Rika Sharma, GM & head of Social@Ogilvy Singapore was of the view that much like Instagram, Snapchat provides a great opportunity to connect with a younger audience and engage them with content around a subject such as politics, which would typically not be top of mind for the youths of today.

However, she warned that PM Lee already has a wide reach and an authentic, approachable, relevant persona with a unique perspective across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, adding Snapchat to the mix may not be the ideal way to extend his presence.

Jeff Cheong, president of Tribal Worldwide Asia, however, thought there was “no harm in trying” as Snapchat should not be ruled out as it could potentially be a channel for him to communicate with the younger generation in Singapore, and it is definitely something worth considering given how many youths are on it.

“Maybe he could use the platform for an occasion such as Youth Day, as different occasions call for different technology,” Tribal’s Cheong told Marketing.

Building authenticity

Freda Kwok, principal consultant at QED Consulting, added that the move into Snapchat would not come as a surprise for many as there is already an existing perception of PM Lee being smart with his social media skills. She added, Snapchat would be a good platform for him to showcase what goes on behind the scenes of his work.

“Although, this is something which he is already doing with existing social media accounts such as Instagram, the platform is one which is still regarded to be highly curated. Using live channels such as Snapchat and even Instagram Stories can hence allow him and his team to build credibility and authenticity which is increasingly valued,” she said adding today:

There is a preference and shift towards raw and uncut content, and these mediums can help deliver such content types effectively.

Cheong added there is no end to the different types of communication technology which politicians can use. But the most important point to note would be if the platform suits the personality of the leader, as it will be seen as an extension of themselves in reaching out to the people.

Describing PM Lee and the team behind him as “media agnostic”, Cheong said this allows them to look at the right audience and the best way they can reach out to them. A fan for his photography skills, Cheong added the leader comes across more as a still life artist as his photographs are well composed and captured at precisely the right moment.  Hence, PM Lee might be more suited to a platform that plays up on such strengths.

A word of caution

However, venturing into a new space requires precaution. Although content on these channels are largely viewed as raw and authentic, QED’s Kwok warns that it is naive to view them as something which is completely uncurated.

With shorter publishing times and expectations for faster context, extra care is needed to ensure content appropriateness.

Another key danger to watch out for is security as real time content allows the public to keep track of an individual’s location and activities. It can hence make one vulnerable to unfavourable episodes. This means PM Lee’s team needs to be discerning enough to balance out the authenticity of real time content while ensuring that such live feeds do not compromise on security issues.

“This is the danger arises in showing behind the scenes content, or snippets of his everyday life,” Kwok said.

She explained that one possible approach to circumvent this was to post content whilst in offline mode first, and publish them at a time which is still consider “real time” without it being security threat.

(Photo courtesy: Facebook page of PM Lee)

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