Forget about the race to find new donors. Finding new influencers could be the challenge that’ll define the next presidential cycle.
It’s a scramble that, in some ways, the Biden campaign set off in spring when it indicated that influencer outreach will be key to the president’s reelection strategy. This month Democratic VCs said they’re investing in a new platforms that brings more influencers into the left’s messaging machine. Meanwhile, Republican digital practitioners admit that the cycle could be defined by influencer marketing strategy.
Higher Ground Labs included Social Currant in its latest cohort, a startup that allows organizations and non-profits to find influencers on TikTok, Instagram, and Youtube and then streamlines the contracting and payment process. HGL’s Gerard Niemira said incubator’s investors were attracted to how the company can help “creat[e] a roster of influencers who are not necessarily in the progressive space.”
“Social Currant goes out and finds those people, brings them onto the platform and exposes them to the political progressive market and then gives campaigns and other organizations a way to access that talent and take advantage of those folks and their networks without having to do contracts and 1099s and figure out payment schedules,” he said. “It’ll do it all for you.”
Curtis Hougland, CEO of People First, told C&E that his influencer marketing platform sourced “15,000 individual posts and videos last cycle.” In 2024, he expects “there will be more influencer content than any election in history.”
With that in mind, Hougland said he’s now focusing on “cross-aisle recruitment.” In other words, finding Republican, libertarian and independent influencers who could potentially back a candidate or cause aligned with the left.
“The power is to find influencers who are not already talking about politics, who are not already in existing databases,” he said.
He brushed off any lingering concern that the strategy could cause blowback on a candidate or group.
“We’ve learned to focus on real people sharing real lived experiences not celebrity, high-profile influencers. It’s easy to criticism Dylan Mulvaney. It’s really difficult to criticize a gay couple who are both factory workers in Ohio who are sharing their person beliefs on paid family leave. The more real you get … the safer ground you’re on.”
Amanda Elliott, founder of GOP digital shop Anchor City Strategies, believes that influencers will rival AI tools for their impact on digital strategy in 2024.
“How campaigns lean into using influencers, I think, is going to be a huge trend to watch this cycle,” she said. “That’s along the [same] lines of a resurgence in watching for viral social media content.”