Michael Bloomberg taps into micro influencers in bid to woo youth vote in upcoming US presidential elections


What do you do if you want to become the next president of the United States of America but as a billionaire pushing 80 you’re worried you might not be down with the kids? You turn to influencers to humanise your brand and make you seem more relatable. 

According to US news and opinion site the Daily Beast former New York Mayor and owner of eponymous financial data outfit Michael Bloomberg has turned to micro-influencers to boost his chances of winning the US presidential race.

Bloomberg’s team has uploaded a campaign to Tribe - the self-service branded content and influencer marketing market place.  

For a fixed $150 fee the presidential candidate’s brief calls for content from micro influencers “that tells us why Mike Bloomberg is the electable candidate who can rise above the fray, work across the aisle so ALL Americans feel heard & respected.”

“Are you sick of the chaos & infighting overshadowing the issues that matter most to us? Please express your thoughts verbally or for still image posts please overlay text about why you support Mike ... “Show+Tell why Mike is the candidate who can change our country for the better, state why YOU think he’s a great candidate,” runs the campaign guideline brief.

It’s a clever move by Bloomberg who is using influencer generated content as a channel alongside the ballooning costs associated with his traditional advertising  via television, radio and online ads. Last month, for example, Bloomberg spent more than $300m on advertising for his campaign according to the Guardian. To put that into some perspective that’s more than Hillary Clinton spent on advertising during her entire presidential run in 2016.

Tribe offers a way for brands to leverage user-generated branded content at speed, scale and at low cost rather than being what purists would label influencer marketing. The platform provides a kind of authentic, non-cringeworthy version of Shutterstock but created by advocates.

Benefits of influencer marketing in electoral campaigning

There are three benefits to Bloomberg in working with a platform like Tribe:

  1. Low price point - allows the Bloomberg team to try different tactics and tailor content based on data performance.
  2. Speed of execution - the speed of content turnaround from influencer briefing to posting on Instagram allows Bloomberg to react in near real-time as his narrative develops and evolves. 
  3. Scale of messaging - the low-cost base and speed of execution will enable Bloomberg to scale messaging to Instagram creating a majority illusion. 

Bloomberg is a late runner in the presidential race. By tapping into lesser-known but strategically connected influencers his team has the ability to raise his popularity dramatically. He can accomplish a majority illusion by mobilising key members within online communities so giving the appearance that his opinions are more popular than they might really be.

Tribe expansion

In May  2019 Tribe announced that Keith Weed - former Unilever Chief Marketing and Communications Officer had invested in the platform. It was Weed’s first investment after leaving the FMCG giant. Weed’s financial input was part of a $7.5m funding round to be used to take the Australian-headquartered brand into the US.

I haven’t seen any other US presidential candidates paying influencers to create and post content for their campaign in exchange for money. In the UK general election of 2017 Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, successfully mobilised the youth vote by tapping into social media influencers. Corbyn worked with the likes of grime MC JME and fashion magazine ID to create authentic relatable content aimed squarely at the youth vote. 

The Bloomberg initiative highlights that, whilst influencer marketing is a powerful channel for shifting product from cosmetics to watches to fashion, the discipline is also well suited to achieving other outcomes. Leadership of influencer marketing should include marketers and advertisers but not to the exclusion of campaigners, agents, and public relations practitioners. 

Scott Guthrie is a professional adviser within the influencer marketing industry. He is an event speaker, university guest lecturer, media commentator on influencer marketing and active blogger. He works with brands, agencies and platforms to achieve meaningful results from influencer marketing. That tells you something about him but it's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

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