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  • Former Vice President Joe Biden is working with social-media influencers to reach a coveted audience of young voters on Instagram.
  • The Biden campaign engaged the influencer-marketing agency Village Marketing to coordinate a #BidenTownHall campaign with six Instagram influencers this week.
  • Business Insider spoke with Village’s founder, Vickie Segar, to learn more about the campaign’s strategy.
  • Subscribe to Business Insider’s influencer newsletter: Influencer Dashboard.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is talking to social-media influencers on the virtual campaign trail in an effort to get in front of young voters during the pandemic.

The Biden campaign is working with the influencer-marketing agency Village Marketing to support its strategy for using digital creators in the candidate’s outreach efforts.

“A couple months ago, we started planning how Biden should work with influencers in a way that would allow us to have real conversations and get out to a younger audience,” Village Marketing founder Vickie Segar told Business Insider. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and that puts constraints on what any candidate can do.”

This week, the company set up video calls between Biden and six internet stars: Khadeen and Devale Ellis, Allison Holker, Keke Palmer, Bethany Mota, and Jerry Harris. The creators hosted Instagram livestreams with the former vice president and posted short videos on their accounts (and other platforms, like the Ellis’ YouTube channel and Holker’s TikTok account) in which they asked Biden questions on topics like racial inequality, the value of registering to vote, and what his goals would be as a leader.

Segar said none of the influencers were compensated to post videos with the presumptive nominee.

“None of these influencers are paid, and many will tell you this is not even an endorsement,” Segar said. “That’s what I think is so authentic and awesome about this campaign and this approach. We picked people who have the right voice or the right audience to have a topical conversation.”

The Biden campaign’s decision to focus on organic (unpaid) posts for its #BidenTownHall campaign is a notable departure from the last high-profile political influencer-marketing effort to draw media attention during the 2020 election.

Earlier this year, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg hired a slew of social-media meme makers to post sponsored content on Instagram in an effort to promote his presidential campaign.

Like Biden’s Instagram videos this week, the billionaire’s meme campaign — along with other efforts the candidate took to hire microinfluencers — was an attempt to connect with a younger audience on social media through influencer marketing.

Segar said including paid influencer posts in political campaigns is more likely to draw skepticism — and cynicism — from social-media users.

“Where influencer marketing gets flak is this idea that you pay influencers, and they say something that they don’t believe in,” she said. “We allowed people who are completely undecided to get on the phone with Biden. When we compare it to the Bloomberg campaign where influencers were paid, and they had a very scripted approach, we were doing completely unpaid, unscripted conversations with real people.”

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