The presidential election is nine months out and campaign efforts are just heating up. As usual, the candidates will vie for our attention through the typical mailers, TV and radio spots, robocalls, banner ads, and social campaigns. And now your favorite semi-celebrities might also get to play a role.
Forget a penny for your thoughts. Here’s a hundo for your post.
Democratic candidate Michael Bloomberg recently drew attention for reaching out to social media influencers to help him build relevance with younger voters. Bloomberg-sponsored political posts have popped up on meme accounts like @KaleSalad, @Tank.Sinatra, and @FuckJerry. (@FuckJerry, incidentally, is run by Jerry Media. You might remember them from the Fyre Festival fiasco. The firm’s executive director is working on the Bloomberg campaign in an effort called Meme2020.)
Bloomberg isn’t the only candidate playing the sponcon campaign game. Several months ago, Sen. Cory Booker initiated a campaign through AspireIQ to connect with influencers, and Tom Steyer’s Super PAC, NextGen, is working on policy-focused influencer partnerships.
With candidates and their campaigns willing to shell out $150/post, you shouldn’t be surprised to see more influencers sharing their heart-felt (read: paid-for) political musings.
As American as cherry pie
Social media’s significance to political campaigns is obvious. But the role of the influencer is a little murky. That’s because the Federal Trade Commission mandates that creators collaborating with brands must alert followers when they post commercial content. Thus, the #ad tag. (Side note: The FTC knows that plenty of influencers don’t play by the rules, and it’s getting ready to hit ‘em where it hurts.)
However, rules for political ads are governed by the Federal Election Commission, and it has yet to cobble together a rulebook for digital advertising that goes beyond the standard disclosures.
Meanwhile, most major platforms—with the notable exception of TikTok, which bans all political content outright—aren’t giving a lot guidance on the matter. This means that, for now, it’s up to individuals to decide how to proceed. Many agencies are calling for transparency, whether that means tagging sponsored posts or disclosing that a campaign paid an influencer’s airfare and lodging to meet with a candidate.