2020 Election: The Making of Political Stars Using Influencers

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

2020 Election. Thinking about running for a local, state or national election? Need to build up name recognition, spread the message of your campaign, or get your fundraising numbers up? Look no further!  Influencer marketing tactics can help you succeed on every level of your campaign. From boosting your candidate’s credibility, to expanding name recognition in key voting demographics, influencer marketing is the next frontier in digital campaigning.

The Making of Political Stars

2020 Election: The Challenge

The year 2016 will be easily remembered by its tumultuous election cycle. From the live TV debates to the endless stream of social media posts, the 2016 election was one for the record books. In that year alone,  $4.4 billion dollars was spent on TV advertising. But with $4.4 billion spent, the million (billion) dollar question has to be, is it worth it? If not, what type of advertising is? According to NPR,  “having a 1,000-ad advantage across the entire campaign, resulted in about a 0.5 percentage point improvement in a candidate’s share of the vote” a relatively small margin. So outside of TV ads what can be used to turn the scales? Many candidates can’t afford to spend 20 million dollars on TV ads for one election, but still are in need of something that will cast a spotlight on their ideas and give light to their platform. Could Influencer Marketing be the solution? To answer that question, we first need to understand the changing landscape of political advertising over the years.

2020 Election: The Power of Digital Advertising

A method that first revolutionized political ads, is targeted digital advertising. In the 2008 presidential election, Obama spent an unprecedented amount of money at the time, almost 10% of his advertising budget, on digital advertising. In 2012 he used 15% of his marketing budget on digital advertising, a method that is credited for playing a substantial role in his victory in 2008 and 2012. Huffington Post owner Ariana Huffington went as far as to say that “Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not be president. Were it not for the Internet, Barack Obama would not have been the nominee”.

This transition to targeted digital advertising is significant for many reasons, the main one being that it established a method for candidates to reach specific groups. This turn to digital advertising allowed social media to become a launch pad in which to reach millennial voters, a group that propelled Barack Obama to two presidential terms. In the 2016 elections digital advertising faced an even larger role, with almost 1.2 billion dollars spent making it the 3rd most commonly used form of advertising. For all the success that digital marketing has had, there is still a lot of room for it to grow.  According to eMarketer Digital’s approximately 10% share of political ad spending lags behind its share of the broader ad market, which reached about 36% in 2016.

Since the rise of the digital era we’ve seen countless small town and relatively unknown candidates go from zero to viral hero. Remember the previously unknown congressional candidate Randy Bryce? His campaign launch video went viral and helped him earn $430,000 dollars in 12 days while receiving 500,000 views on Youtube. This didn’t happen by chance, though. His newfound internet fame and fundraising haul was made possible by a compelling video, that was shared and re-tweeted by key political influencers around the state and nationwide. Randy Bryce is the definition of an underdog candidate. He lost three elections, two for state senator and one for the local school board. Now he’s considered to be a serious challenger against house majority leader Paul Ryan, largely due to his extensive social media presence.

Republicans have also made serious gains in their use of social media as a catalyst to build up their candidate profiles. Ron Paul, a libertarian candidate in the Republican party, used a grass roots social media movement to help raise money and recognition for his campaign. Ron Paul also was the first person to implement a “money bomb” campaign on his website. By doing this during the 2008 election cycle, he was able to raise 2 million dollars in almost 12 hours revolutionizing the way lower profile candidates are able to raise money from small donations.   

Having a relevant and large internet presence went from being an advantage in 2008 to a necessity in 2016. A change that political analysts have noted nationwide. Daniel Kleine, Principal of KDC Services, LLC, a company that manages marketing and content creation for political campaigns said,  “Social media has become more important as the value of traditional sources of reputation authority like news outlets has declined. This has created an environment where candidates can get name recognition producing a viral video on social media” he went on to note afterward “And of course we know a quick shortcut to getting noticed on social media is having influencers retweet your content”.

2020 Election: Why Influencer Marketing?

Targeted digital advertising has burst onto the scene and has been extremely effective, but what’s the next step, and how can local candidates who don’t have a 5 million dollar war chest make maximum marketing impact? The best and most logical option is Influencer Marketing.  Influencer Marketing is best described as the endorsement through micro influencers, bloggers and even celebrities creating genuine messages from their personal accounts to a trusted follower base. According to Tom Augenthaler, an expert in the field of Influencer Marketing, influencers are a way for brands to naturally incorporate their messaging into the content that is already being produced and consumed. It’s not about force fitting where a consumer’s attention is placed. It’s about collaborating with influencers who have the audience to integrate organically and be a part of it.

Candidates should consider capitalizing on the extensive network of influencers and micro influencers that are relevant to their district and their voters. Micro-influencers provide a more localized experience, boasting high engagement from followership as well as a larger proportion of likes and shares. Micro-influencers are regular people like you and me, who are able to amplify a message in a natural way with followers that are receptive to it. Micro-influencers coincide well with the concept of Micro-targeting, a method used by both Republicans and Democrats through multiple forms of media sending tailored messages to subgroups of the electorate. Micro-influencers with their unique and specific followership, are often able to kill two birds with one stone, using Influencer Marketing as an effective surrogate for front porch campaigns and whistle-stop tours.

Another trend in modern advertising is the increasing role of digital ad blocking. Due to the use of ad blockers, which is the action or practice of using a special piece of software to prevent advertisements from appearing on a web page, digital advertising becomes less effective. Today nearly 35% (!) of internet users are using some form of ad blocking. This is forcing advertisers to explore other digital strategies such as Influencer Marketing which is resistant to ad blocking.

As Super PACS and their money continue to be a big factor in elections financially, lesser known candidates will have to continue to look for innovative ways to market their campaign to stay relevant. Influencer Marketing can accomplish that and Fourstarzz Media is here to help.

Fourstarzz Media operates with an extensive network of more than 500,000 social media influencers from bloggers or video creators to micro-influencers and celebrities. To create a campaign, all you have to do is contact Fourstarzz Media. They will set you up with one of their experienced campaign managers who strategize, plan, and execute your Influencer Marketing campaign hand in hand with you.