White House adds Snapchat to its social blitz

Ahead of Tuesday's State of the Union address, the president joins the social network popular among millennials and best known for its disappearing messages.

Screenshot by CNET

Your first behind-the-scenes glimpse of the White House on Snapchat: a big bowl of apples.

The White House joined the popular messaging service turned social network on Monday, promising an inside look at preparations for President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Joining Snapchat is the latest move in a larger social-media campaign by the Obama administration to connect with Americans who are increasingly checking social sites on a daily basis. In November, Obama launched a new Facebook page, and in May, he joined Twitter under the username @POTUS, where he garnered 1 million followers faster than anyone else on the service up to that point. The president reportedly has about 20 aides handling social media accounts.

Snapchat launched in 2011 as a smartphone app that lets users send photos and videos that self-destruct after a set time. It later added less fleeting features such as "Stories," which hang around in a feed for 24 hours.

The Snapchat app has more than 100 million daily active users and boasts more than 5 billion video views every day. Its meteoric rise was fueled largely by its popularity among teenagers and millennials. According to research firm ComScore last year, 71 percent of its US users are 18 to 34 years old.

The White House's first "Story" was a short video of the Oval Office, with a large bowl of red apples prominently featured. Not exactly one of the president's most inspiring social media shots.

"Our digital strategy centers around meeting people where they are," wrote Joshua Miller, director of product management at the White House, in a blog post Monday. "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."

While Stories posted to the president's account will disappear after 24 hours from Snapchat, they'll be preserved by the White House.

"With Snapchat as with other social accounts, we'll be fully compliant with [Presidential Records Act] requirements, saving and preserving snaps for archives," said a White House spokesperson in an emailed statement. "Occasionally that content may find its way onto other platforms."

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