Biden is using a successful political strategy to gain votes, volunteers, and donors through “influencers.”
For example, Biden’s digital strategy team will connect with “influencers” across the nation, targeting those who may not follow the White House or Democratic Party on social media – or who have “cut the cable cord” and tuned out mainstream media altogether.
Biden has a team of digital staffers who are focused on “influencers” and independent content creators. The staffers officially work for the White House, not Biden’s campaign – but reaching young and suburban voters is clearly a priority.
The Democrat party and other organizations also have “influencer” campaigns.
An “influencer” is a person or company that is a perceived “expert” or has a level of knowledge, authority, or social media influence regarding a specific niche or field.
They have sway over a specific target audience, and their dominance on social media or in entertainment makes them a useful “voice” for brands or political candidates in search of “instant” credibility.
They typically have thousands or millions of followers.
For example, one of Biden’s influencers is NYU student Henry Sisson. He runs a TikTok page with more than 600,000 followers.
Vivian Tu, another influencer, gives financial advice on TikTok to over 2 million followers.
That’s why influencers are becoming an important strategy for Democrat campaign strategists.
Young voters (ages 18-29) who follow and listen to influencers voted for Biden over Trump by a 26-point margin in 2020 and Democrats over Republicans by 28 points in the 2022 midterms.
“Influencers” helped shape the election results, becoming Biden’s “invisible army.”
So “influencers” are a smart strategy for reaching young people, mobilizing activists from a voting segment whose main way of getting information is through social media like TikTok.
Who do the radical groups and candidates want to reach?
Young woman on abortion. Hispanics on immigration. Climate activists who believe the end of the world is coming. Radical Palestinian Dogma believers with anti-Jewish/Israel hate. Young people who want student loan relief—another government giveaway.
Right now, hundreds of (unpaid and like-minded) content creators are working with Biden’s White House, making it a briefing space for influencers to meet in person or remotely with Biden campaign officials and staff.
The administration has given influencers opportunities for access to Biden—something the press doesn’t have.
In 2020, the Biden campaign used the pandemic to move more of its strategy to marketing online; getting a boost from influencers on Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube was an increasingly important campaign tactic.
“We were forced to do everything virtual,” Adrienne Elrod, the director of surrogate strategy for Biden’s campaign, said. “We’re forced to do more [Instagram] Lives. We’re forced to do more Twitter conversations. We’re forced to go to Occupy Democrats.”
How powerful are influencers?
At the 2022 Detroit Auto Show, for example, officials invited Daniel Mac, a social media influencer with 13.8 million followers, to the event. He asked drivers if they had any questions for Biden. The video got 38 million views.
Elle Walker’s YouTube channel called WhatsUpMoms has over 3 million subscribers. Dulce Candy, a beauty vlogger, has over 2 million subscribers on YouTube. Both women interviewed Biden, who talked to them about his “Build Back Better” campaign.
Comedian Ilana Glazar has over one million followers on Instagram is helping Biden with swing state voters. Her job is to do video chat interviews with celebrities like Eric Andre and Zoë Kravitz to encourage people who may not be so excited about Biden to vote for him anyway.
Lifestyle influencer Chloe Homan has more than 50,000 Instagram followers. She’s posted to her Instagram account a post urging her followers to register for an absentee ballot.
When Biden signed the same-sex marriage bill, his staff invited LGBTQ+ influencers who created a massive viral campaign for the administration.
Some of the best support comes from influencers who speak to comparatively smaller but targeted audiences, like “persuadable” voters, voters by race, and emotional hot-button issues like abortion.
The key is whether the influencer actually influences their followers to follow through.
So, if you see Biden doing a live Facebook or YouTube chat with an influencer you have never heard of, it’s because the influencer reaches an audience that cares about one of those targeted hot-button issues.
The goal is to engage with as many influencers as possible, interviewing people who have credibility with certain targeted audiences and getting those influencers’ audiences interested and excited about Biden.
Biden’s influencer outreach intentionally engaging. For example, using the popular social video game Animal Crossing, they included Bide/Harris campaign signs within the video game environment.
The Biden campaign is also using celebrities like Andy Cohen and Dulé Hill to fundraise on Cameo, a video app that allows influencers to post fan-requested video messages in exchange for donations.
Singer Cardi B’s posts bashing Trump have garnered over 20 million viewers.
San Francisco billionaire activist Tom Steyer has an email list of 7.6 million, which he uses to bash Trump and build up interest in Biden. He also tours the country, holding town halls to support Democrats. He’s also looking to recruit influencers, including those who focus on beauty, fitness, lifestyle, and even comedy, to reach young people online and urge them to vote for Biden and other Democrat candidates.
The Biden Campaign is using influencers who have the most credibility in people’s social feeds and are powerful, especially in targeting voters in key swing states.