Social media can be a very powerful tool. If the idea of Q Anon and its influence doesn’t convince you, there are all the TikTok trends that usually amount to doing something very dangerous for a dare. Businesses create their marketing campaigns from social media, an entire industry has come about from simply being a user who’s good at being on social media for a living, with arguably the Karashians at the top of that pyramid.
But there are also activists using social media to get their point across. Amongst the democrat politicians, the obvious example is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who not only has her own nickname online as “AOC”, but occasionally makes a point of appearing on social media either to make a point or to enjoy herself, like the lockdown rounds of Among Us she played with YouTube and Twitch gamers.
But why social media? Are the old ways of campaigning simply not enough for democrats anymore? For politicians in general? We’re breaking down why democrat supporters and politicians might like the appeal of using social media to get their point across.
Influencers appeal to social media users
Influencers and their brands are very obviously aimed at social media users. In a world where we’re increasingly migrating onto social media to get everything from our food to our holiday choices, it only makes sense that democrats will want to make a conscious effort to reach social media users – and influencers are exactly the way to do it.
More and more of us are finding and buying what we want online, which influencers tap into. The way the democrats can use this is there in the name: by using influence. People are clearly listening to influencers on their reviews of everything from products to services. And as a result, a lot of commentators of their genre, have influence on their followers. Take Hasan Piker, for example, who has to be the biggest and loudest voice on politics at the moment. His Twitter has 1.1 million followers, some of which you can attribute for “hate followers” who want to know what he’s saying in less than 280 characters, but 2 million followers are watching his sometimes 4-hour long streams where he is talking about politics.
Not only are we getting our products from social media, but we’re getting our headlines, and more importantly, our entertainment, which commentary on politics can definitely be considered.
Influencers appeal to Gen Z
In particular, influencers and social media as a whole appeal to younger generations. Gen Z, for example, which is classified by Rave Reviews as anyone born between 1995 and 2010, is known for using social media more than any other generation, but online digital PR services know that they are also becoming increasingly cynical of brands and big organisations like the criminal justice system, police, news media and the government. A whopping 49% of Gen Zers are getting their news on social media, compared to 17% of adults, with only 12% watching TV. By meeting them where they’re at, politicians can get better in the ear of younger audiences.
But a lack of headlines doesn’t mean Gen Z doesn't care. They are looking up and researching every brand they interact with to ensure that their priorities match. These priorities are mostly sustainable business practices, affordability, ethical business practices and inclusivity. Considering 20% of them identify as LGBT+, 48% are non-white, and they are well educated, more than any generation before them on all fronts, it’s important to appeal to these younger users.
So, where are they researching brands and big companies? On social media.
Micro influencer fans are more loyal
However, if democrats are going to get the interest of the increasingly cynical Gen Z user, they have to be smarter about what influencers they use to reach them. Like brands, users are becoming cynical of the priorities of big influencers. Big influencers at best have been found to be dishonest about their opinions on items for the sake of a paycheck and at worst have been found to be criminals.
Instead, users are migrating to micro-influencers who have smaller but more dedicated followings. They’re usually the head of a community or marketing a small business, and therefore are considered more honest with their intentions. Communities have been given a boost by the likes of TikTok over the past couple of years, which has an algorithm that is putting people in touch with their people, showing them more of what they identify with. So, for instance, if you are left-leaning in your politics, you are likely to be presented with people who are talking about left-leaning politics, until you have a community of people talking about an issue. This is exactly where democrats can come in and give their opinion, either informally with their own TikTok account or by being interviewed or endorsed by influencers.