A global pandemic. Social justice protests. 2020 was a time of uncertainty, fear and chaos around the world. In the United States, it was also the year of the most pivotal Presidential election in recent memory.
While a Presidential campaign is never easy, this election presented two major challenges for Joe Biden as he looked to unseat the sitting President.
Misinformation around the election had become the norm, and while many voters were understandably anxious about casting their ballots in person during a deadly pandemic, they didn’t trust using alternative voting methods either, amidst rampant (unfounded) allegations of voter fraud dominating the conversation. We needed to educate voters on all voting methods, especially in battleground states with complex voting rules, to make them feel confident to make a plan to vote that felt right for them.
Feeling secure in your vote’s impact is one thing, but knowing who to vote for is another. Although Biden garnered a high volume of social conversation, the phrase “Biden stands for” accounted for a stunning <1% of social conversations. We needed to increase understanding of Biden’s positions on key issues - from climate change, to social justice - to ignite the passions of voters who cared about the same issues to vote.
But education and inspiration couldn’t just come from Biden himself. To truly reach our key target audiences - particularly voters in battleground states and from Black and LatinX communities - we needed to engage influencers as authentic messengers who voters could trust.
The Biden For President campaign (BFP) created a two-pronged influencer activation approach, using trusted messengers (both major celebrities and targeted social influencers) to share social content in two waves across the 100 days leading up to the election that:
- Educated voters about voting options and encouraged them to make a plan to vote.
- Convinced core voters that Biden deserved their vote, by connecting him with the issues they cared about most.
We employed sophisticated analytics to identify and vet 1,200 influential voices who would best reach and resonate with key voter populations. For each wave we followed three key steps:
- Identified the right influencers: It was essential that every influencer we worked with was not only vetted for any flags or concerns that could negatively impact the campaign, but also that we were identifying and activating the right people who could speak to target voter groups and affect behavioral change.
BFP used robust audience demographic and psychographic research to vet the widespread influencer list down to 797 influencers. BFP analyzed indicators of voting history, their social audiences, resonance and any possible red flags against key issues nationally and in battleground states to find the most passionate, best-fit influencers with the best chance of interest in participating.
We knew we needed a strong focus on battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Arizona and Florida, as well as a focus on youth, Black and LatinX voters. One of the core elements of our vetting process was identifying influencers who had credible reach among these groups.
- Crafted compelling creative content: BFP needed to ensure that any content we created not only included clear, simple messaging approved by the campaign, but that it was something influencers would actually want to share in an unpaid capacity.
- Messaging: Worked with the wider campaign to develop messaging around core issues that put Biden’s positions into simple, powerful layman’s terms and drove to iwillvote.com (where voters could type in their location to get their voting options).
- Creative content: Developed three asset suite options for influencers to bring messages to life:
- Pre-packaged ready-to-use assets based on voter education and a variety of core campaign issues, along with Giphy stickers and an Instagram Story “fill-in-the-blank” style quiz
- Customizable assets influencers could personalize with their photo or a quote on why they were voting, including an interactive Instagram AR filter
- Safe Voting Kits shipped to highly engaged influencers to create their own content, along with opportunities for high-profile video advertisement voiceover work for select influencers
- Outreach with impact: In a time when influencers were skittish about posting any branded content, let alone a political campaign stance that could alienate their followers, let alone for free, we needed to strike a balance between personalization and securing mass participation. We outreached to 797 influencers, rallying around key moments like early voting, registration deadlines and the Presidential & Vice Presidential debates, to deliver assets that influencers then shared on their channels.
During the course of the campaign BFP engaged more than 90 influencers in an unpaid organic capacity to share content, resulting in:
- 230 total social posts
- 264M impressions
- 2.1M engagements
- 42% of influencers posted multiple times
- Educating voters on all voting methods:
- 30% of influencer posts directly focused on voter education. 100% of all 230 overall posts drove followers to iwillvote.com.
- Increasing understanding of Biden’s positions on key issues:
- 70% of influencer posts focused on campaign issues from Healthcare to Racial Injustice.
- Reaching voters in battleground states and key voting groups:
- In addition to activating “national” influencers and celebrities, we also engaged targeted influencers, such as Julian Camarena and Martin Luther King III (over indexing with LatinX and Black communities respectively) and Steve Nash (reaching battleground state Arizona):
- 21% of activated influencers had an above-average reach among one of the battleground states
- 19% of influencers had an audiences with above-average reach in the LatinX community
- 17% of influencers had an audience with above-average reach in the Black community
- BFP secured unpaid celebrity participation in broadcast and online ads focusing on priority states - including Dave Bautista for Florida, winner of New York Times’ Ad of the Week, and Wanda Sykes for Pennsylvania
As votes were counted, the importance of our targeted focus became even clearer. Pennsylvania, Arizona and other states where BFP secured influencer content eventually helped to secure the most important result of all - a Presidential victory and a new administration ready to change the course of America.