Snodgrass embraces TikTok on campaign trail


Frankie Herrera

Louise Snodgrass, 25, House of Representatives candidate for District 7, was photographed working at Good Roots Farm and Gardens north of Brookings.

Gracie Terrall, News Editor (She/Her)

As she scrolled through her TikTok For You Page, South Dakota State University graduate student, Emma Williams, came across a video of Louise Snodgrass announcing they were running for South Dakota District 7  representative.

In their video, Snodgrass declared that, as a homegrown South Dakotan, they were “tired of watching the state government of South Dakota destroy our natural resources and oppress its people.”

For Williams, seeing someone run in her town who was closer to her age and related more to younger voters opened her eyes to how she viewed politics.

“That’s the difference between Louise and other candidates: they’re using their platforms to connect, whereas others are using it merely to share and to just put information out there,” Williams said. “Louise is like, ‘no, this is a tool for connection and building community.’”

Snodgrass announced their campaign June 14 using their TikTok account, @loudang. Since then, they have gained almost 19,000 followers, 621 followers on Twitter and 660 followers on Facebook.

“I wasn’t going to use TikTok for campaigning at all, but I decided to tell my micro-audience. People got really excited,” Snodgrass said. “Now I am reaching a really broad audience and connecting with them, and they help me feel empowered.”

Initially, Snodgrass decided to run after seeing the anti-LGBTQ legislationHB1057, HB 1215 and SB 88that was proposed during the 2020 legislative session.

In a Facebook post from Jan. 28, Snodgrass asked: “How loud does my voice have to be for anyone in Pierre to hear me?”

This post, along with an influx of community support, sparked their campaign.

“My community flooded my inbox,” Snodgrass said. “It was a resounding ‘we want you to do this, we will support you, we want you to be the voice to amplify our voices.’”

Snodgrass contributes their popularity and appeal with young, new voters to their young age and being in touch with the concerns of the community and SDSU. Combining their knack for social media and outreach with their understanding of niche internet culture, Sndograss is able to appeal to both millennials and Generation Z.

“Social media is so different, so I prioritize different platforms for different things because I understand who’s using which platform more,” Snodgrass said.

Nick French, Snodgrass’s campaign manager and a communications graduate student at SDSU, says using social media for advocacy and awareness is essential.

“You can have candidates that have decades of experience in knowing how to create print mailers, but we’re at an advantage where Louise has almost a decade of experience living on the internet and knowing how to brand themselves on the internet,” French said.

Typically, a representative is able to run for eight consecutive years; however, Snodgrass intends to only run for two years– a single term. While some may think this discredits their loyalty to the job and to Brookings, Snodgrass said they do plan on running for however long Brookings needs them.

“I want to build a platform that others can stand on,” they said. “I want people to see that they can take action for their communities. I am intentionally building this campaign that, win or lose, there is a way forward.”

Although they have gained such a large following from around the country, Snodgrass still intends to remain dutifully loyal to Brookings. However, they hope the message from their campaign resonates with people all over the country.

“I am not seeking national attention,” Snodgrass said. “But the nation sees how badly South Dakota needs change. This campaign is about Brookings, but it is also bigger than Brookings.”

Snodgrass has been open on all of their platforms about the policies and plans they hope to contribute if they make it to Pierre.

“I think representation is really important, and I think we need a lot more preemptive legislation passed that protects communities and against legislation like [anti-LGBTQ bills] from even being proposed,” they said.

These at-risk groups in South Dakota include LGBTQ and Two-spirit indigenous communities, Native communities (Dakota, Lakota and Nakota), women and lower class communities.

According to Snodgrass, there is clear discrimination in housing, employment and reproductive care in South Dakota. While serving as a representative, they would work to help eliminate some of that discrimination.

As for SDSU, Snodgrass hopes to advocate for better treatment of faculty members. They are concerned that educator and staff contracts are not being written fairly, nor are they being compensated justly.

“We’re getting new administrative positions all the time, and we have departments that are severely understaffed. I want to get to the bottom of that and I want to support educators,” they said.

Snodgrass releases both political and personal content on their TikTok page. This way, they can connect with their audience on more genuine terms rather than having a separate account for entirely political posts.

“Really what sells is being authentic and true to yourself,” French said. “That’s what Louise is doing.”

This election is unlike any election America, or South Dakota, has ever seen. Candidates are battling controversial topics and finding ways to campaign during a pandemic; Louise is doing that through TikTok.

“This is not a conventional year, and we can see that traditional campaigning is not working,” Snodgrass said. “We are the generation of being resourceful and trying to work with what is broken. That is exactly what I want to do with my campaign.”