Influencing a sizeable but specific audience on social media can be challenging for politicians, particularly in an era where political advertising can often become stale, unappealing and overwhelming.
In conjunction with paid online advertising, candidates for president in the 2016 cycle have sought to use social media influencers to reach distinct voters in different parts of the country.
Red, White & Blog spoke with Gil Eyal, CEO of HYPR, an analytics firm that tracks social influencer data, to discuss the impact of social media influencers in the 2016 presidential election.
Eyal explained that the influencer landscape has grown drastically this cycle. Those who have a distinct following on social media sites, particularly Twitter, have already played a significant role in generating excitement behind campaigns.
Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian and Lena Dunham, among others, have shared social-media posts with the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, and have even explained the reasoning behind their support. The significance of courting these influencers will increase as the general election match-up gears up.
Influencers will be particularly important for Hillary Clinton, having fallen significantly short of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in attracting young voters during the primaries.
The excitement gap that may plague a Clinton general election campaign can be partly countered by mobilizing influencers with particular reach with young voters. Many of the celebrities of Democratic leanings, including those mentioned above, have followers that are quickly attaining voting age, while being also deeply engaged with the influencer’s community.
These relationships will need to be harnessed by general election candidates and will serve as opportunities to drive get-out-the-vote campaigns.
Eyal colorfully described how “ad blockers victimize political ads,” often eating in to ad budgets, whereas investing in influencers can generate exponential reach throughout the social media universe. Even down-ballot races will benefit from such influencer relationships come fall.
The influencer world offers candidates the opportunity to go beyond traditional advertising. They can engage in growing online communities in which personal relationships between followers and influencers increase the likelihood that messages resonate with the desired target audience.