Campaigns Skirt Political Ad Rules by Paying Influencers
Political campaigns have been relying on endorsements from the rich and famous for the past two elections, but 2018 is poised to be the first time that the Internet can make or break a political candidate by providing endorsements from paid online influencers.
Paid influencers, or “influencer influencers,” have been a booming business for the past ten years. They are “influencers” simply because their audiences are largely made up of people who are already aware of what they like or who have already had a connection to them.
The rise of influencers began in 2006, when YouTube launched its Influencer Program, which allowed anyone with a YouTube channel to create a paid advertising or sponsorship campaign. Within a decade, the Influencer Program had expanded, becoming a cornerstone of digital marketing today.
A growing number of political candidates have begun to utilize influencers to further their campaigns, but these opportunities are often dismissed as being too low-value for the candidates, the influencers, and the brands. Yet, they are an integral part of campaigns that attempt to drive viral engagement through organic sharing.
Influencers are not paid for their endorsements. They just receive benefits that aren’t generally associated with paid endorsements. In fact, many influencers have used their status (i.e., being an influencer) to garner more exposure for themselves (and their clients) by recommending products or services to their audience through influencer social media accounts and website pages, which drives sales for businesses.
The influencer program, along with the rise of influencers, has been a primary driver behind the growth of e-commerce. Although many companies have tried to avoid the influencer program, they’ve found that they are often in a losing battle when faced with the influencer market.
This isn’t a case of the influencers taking advantage of a program that they were offered, or a lack of trust in the programs that they’ve been provided (or weren’t provided). It’s simply the case of when and how campaigns are using influencers — influencer influencers and paid influencers — have grown a large enough impact on their campaigns that they’re unwilling to use them as a stand-alone effort.
Why Influencer Influencers Are Used In Political Campaigns