A newly launched media shop on the left is offering campaigns the chance to tap into micro-influencer networks as part of their persuasion efforts this cycle.
Village Square is a tie-up of Beltway-based ESK Strategies and New York-headquartered People First, formerly known as Main Street One. It began as an informal partnership that became a merger formalized late last month.
“The way in which voters and consumers are getting information and what’s working with them has changed and we need to adapt to that,” said David Eichenbaum, a veteran Democratic media consultant who headed ESK. “As far as we know, we’re the first to really combine this top-down and bottom-up approach together.”
Still, the influencer marketing offering isn’t meant to be the firm’s sole focus: “We are traditional media consultants and that has been our bread and butter and we’re not going to stop doing that and we’re not saying to campaigns, to potential clients: ‘You have to do all of this or nothing,'” said Eichenbaum, who declined to get into the shop’s pricing structure for the service.
“People would be surprised at how affordable [the] micro-influencers piece of this is when you compare it to how much money campaigns are spending on traditional television and digital advertising. It is complementary to that. This is not like a huge new line item,” he said.
Part of what could be helping keep costs down is that People First came into the merger with a built-up network of micro influencers.
“They’ve been doing this for years, and they have a CRM of millions of micro influencers that we tap into,” Eichenbaum said. “Depending on the campaign, we can do a search based on location, and any kind of demographics or affinity group and come up with people and then it’s outreach to see who is interested in participating in any particular campaign.”
An added benefit to layering the influencers offering on to an existing media plan is that it could help inform the development of a campaign or group’s creative, according to Marjan Charness, a partner at the new shop who previously served as an EVP at ESK.
“Adding this additional element of micro-influencers allows us to learn from the content that performs best from that pool, and informs the type of content that we’re creating when we’re not necessarily on the ground in the same state or congressional district that we’re working in,” she said.
In fact, she noted that the firm has already integrated influencer-produced content into larger paid media persuasion plans.
In Wisconsin in 2020, they had one story produced by a female small business owner that took off and outperformed a host of other social media content. They put additional dollars behind it to get increased reach.
“There are opportunities like that,” she said. “You get to pick [up] insights across all platforms in terms of both performance and story.”
It can also help with building relationships with voters who may otherwise be sitting on the fence in a midterm cycle.
“We’re not just asking them to come out the first week of November when we start communicating with them to GOTV,” said Charness. “It’s about building a relationship with them and really activating communities in a way that they feel empowered by.”