Marco Rubio, Cats, and Clickbait: A Peek into Republican Social Sharing

Marco Rubio, Cats, and Clickbait: A Peek into Republican Social Sharing

Social Media Trends

Marco Rubio is trying hard to appeal to the youth vote–and it just might be working. A few weeks ago, I dug into the presidential candidates’ websites to see what kind of social sharing they’re doing so far. I clicked around on Hillary, Jeb, Scott, and Bernie’s campaign websites, and found the normal campaign platforms and email list sign-up forms.

Then I visited Marco Rubio’s campaign website, and found this:

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I’m a millennial, so I have a pretty good sense of when I’m being clickbaited. I will believe what happens next, and the results won’t shock me. But I couldn’t resist clicking through this video about humans becoming cats. I was successfully clickbaited by Marco Rubio.

The video, as you might imagine, is about how human life begins at conception, because a human fetus can’t become a cat fetus… or something. The “logic” and “science” are a little wobbly, but the hook is undeniable. It’s a funny headline, linked to great image, and it’s been formatted for sharing on social. If I were a young neocon instead of a queer, liberal, former Planned Parenthood employee, I might have just clicked to post it on Facebook.

That seems to be exactly what the Rubio campaign is hoping for from young supporters. Rubio’s website features an infinite scroll of links to videos with catchy, conservative titles, and bold graphics. A recent sample included these:
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Rubio is packaging his policy proposals and opponent attacks as shareable pieces of content–a choice that, thus far, makes him unique among his fellow candidates. For a candidate who’s running partially on a new, youthful energy (a “new American century,” according to his campaign’s rhetoric), this is a choice that could appeal to a young Republican voting bloc. What remains to be seen is whether his content will actually inspire people to share with friends… or whether it’s a sharing strategy without the sharers to back it up.

Written By

Anna Schmitz