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 President Trump.
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 alternative voting methods either, amidst rampant and 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 Latino communities – we needed to engage influencers as authentic messengers who voters could trust.
The Biden For President (BFP) campaign set the following campaign objectives:
- Engage influencers on an earned basis, with no paid support
- Use influencers’ social channels to reach target voters in battleground states
- Use influencers’ social channels to raise awareness of alternative voting methods and encourage people to vote for Biden
BFP and Methods+Mastery created a two-pronged influencer activation approach using trusted messengers (which included micro influencers, local community advocates and household names) 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. We followed three steps:
- Identified the right influencers: It was essential that every influencer we worked with was not only vetted for any flags or concerns, but also that we were identifying the right people who could speak to target voter groups and affect behavioral change.
- We used robust audience demographic and psychographic research to vet the widespread influencer list down to 797 influencers. We analyzed indicators of voting history, their social audiences, resonance and any possible red flags against key issues nationally and in battleground states.
- We knew we needed a strong focus on battleground states, as well as a focus on young, Black and Latino/Latina voters. One of the core elements of our vetting process was identifying influencers who had credible reach among these groups.
- Crafted compelling creative content: We needed to ensure that any content we created not only included clear, simple messaging, but that it was something influencers would actually want to share in an unpaid capacity on their channels.
- Messaging: Put Biden’s positions into simple, powerful layman’s terms and drive to iwillvote.com (where voters could input their location to get their voting options).
- Creative content: Developed three asset suite options:
- Pre-packaged ready-to-use assets based on voter education and a variety of core campaign issues
- Assets influencers could personalize with their photo or a quote on why they were voting
- 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, especially vocalizing 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.
During the course of the campaign BFP engaged more than 90 influencers in an unpaid organic capacity to share content. At 11% of outreached influencers joining the campaign, this ranks well above the average return for earned influencer outreach. Earned influencer content resulted in:
- 230 total social posts
- 264M impressions
- 2.1M engagements
- 42% of influencers engaged multiple times
Educating voters on all voting methods:
- Demi Lovato, Chris Redd, Roberta Flack and many more shared 67 posts directly focused on voter education. 100% of all 230 overall posts drove followers to iwillvote.com, where voters could access the tools they needed to make a plan to vote.
Increasing understanding of Biden’s positions on key issues:
- An additional 163 posts focused on campaign issues, sharing Biden’s policies and the powerful directive that a vote for Biden would help to bring about a world where those issues were addressed. Jennifer Aniston, Mariah Carey, Billy Porter and more each shared content about the particular issues most important to them – including Healthcare, The Supreme Court, Racial Injustice, Climate Change and the COVID-19 Response.
Reaching voters in battleground states and key voting groups:
- In addition to activating “national” influencers and celebrities whose following spanned voters from various states and target groups, we also strategically engaged targeted influencers, such as Julian Camarena and Martin Luther King III (over indexing in reach to Latino/Latina and Black communities) and Steve Nash (reaching Arizona’s battleground):
- 21% of activated influencers had an above-average reach among one of the battleground states, including nationally known celebrities and influencers with hyper-targeted battleground audiences
- 19% of influencers had an audience with above-average reach in the Latino/Latina community
- 17% of influencers had an audience with above-average reach in the Black community
- BFP secured celebrity participation in television and social media video advertisements that focused on priority states in the campaign – including Dave Bautista for Florida, winner of New York Times’ Ad of the Week, and Wanda Sykes, who explained the complicated rules of mail in voting to her fellow Pennsylvania voters.
And building trust in Vote by Mail:
- 70% of voters cast their ballot by mail or took advantage of early voting options before Election day – the highest-ever rate of non-traditional voting for a Presidential election. In comparison, <40% of voters did so in 2016.
- The 2020 surge in non-traditional voting was mostly due to an increase in Vote by Mail (43% in 2020 vs 21% in 2016).
As votes were counted, the importance of our targeted focus became even more clear. Pennsylvania, Arizona and other states where BFP had 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.