The growing use of influencers on social media is radically shifting the advertising and promotion playing field both for the marketing of products and influencing public policy issues. In almost every industry, there is someone with a large social media following that can make or break a product or idea. That is why more brands and agencies are turning to influencers to amplify their marketing campaigns than ever before.
The reach of many of the influencers in raw numbers is staggering. For example, the YouTube channel of PewDiePie – a Swedish commentator – has 95 million subscribers around the globe. One of his videos typically gets 10 million views in a day. By comparison, 103 million people watched the Super Bowl earlier this year. For many younger people, watching videos has replaced watching TV as the main way they get their news and information.
Public policy is not exempt from the growth and use of this new digital strategy. The rise to prominence of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on the left and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) on the right are impacting the political debate through Tweets, Facebook posts, and live feeds.
Political YouTube commentators and social media stars like The Young Turks and Tomi Lahren have attained significant influence over national policy debates while Terrance Williams, Diamond, and Silk, and Louder with Crowder speak to millions of people on a daily.
These stars’ videos and posts are shared tens of thousands of times for months on end on social media, including by key members of Congress, top political organizations, and the president of the United States himself. A decade ago, an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press was seen as the pinnacle of political influence. Today, many of the aforementioned social media activists have exceeded the reach of the Sunday morning shows.
Social media mentions are now rivaling newspaper clippings as a means for Congressional offices to monitor public opinion. Nearly two-thirds of staff surveyed (64%) think Facebook is an important way to understand constituents’ views and nearly three-quarters (74%) think it is important for communicating their Member’s views.
Twitter and email campaigns can also serve as a digital meeting between members and constituents. A single Tweet with the right message can elicit a response directly from a representative or a senator. While not everyone communicates this way, it has empowered the agitators and well-organized who can pressure policymakers almost instantaneously.
Harnessing the voices of those who speak for and to millions of people via the social mediums with an aggressive, well-timed campaign can be tremendously impactful. Failing to do so would ignore a large swath of the population that does not get their news any other way.