Wednesday 11th November 2020 | Owen Marshall
Will the influence of influencer marketing change a nation?

Influencer culture has seen a real boom in the last few years, especially across Instagram, with countless brands worldwide choosing to invest their budget into influencer marketing as opposed to some other form of traditional advertisement. In fact, in 2018 it was estimated that between 2015-2020, brands will have collaborated with influencers to create a $5-10 billion industry – a lot of money, right?

Now that influencer marketing has become the top trend, we have seen many celebrities and influencers move away from just promoting products and services from household brands. A booming trend we’ve seen in 2020 is that celebrities and influencers are beginning to use their platform to encourage more people to get out and vote in this year’s highly anticipated, and already controversial US election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. What impact this really had on the outcome of the election– if any, remains to be seen.

However, with 70% of teens reportedly trusting social influencers ahead of ‘traditional’ celebrities, it can’t be a coincidence that so many young voters have turned out a vote in this election. Is this just a sign of the times, or have social influencers really started to have an impact beyond just encouraging you to buy the latest winter range?

The question is, with the record numbers of voters in this election, how many have been influenced to register and vote because of a celebrity or social influencer? It’s fair to say that across Twitter and Instagram in particular we have seen a large increase in the amount of people with influence stepping out to talk about politics and encourage others to do the same. Whether it be in the way of sharing facts and guides such as Zendaya, or from showing general support to voters as Paul Rudd did in Brooklyn (in the rain, might we add) by handing out free cookies to voters queuing. He’s a good guy.

Another example of a social influencer using his platform to encourage users to vote is YouTuber, David Dobrik. He is known for doing car giveaways in many of his vlogs, however he recently decided to giveaway five new Teslas. How to win? You simply needed to register to vote via his Instagram page to a voter-registration portal run by HeadCount.org. A simple, yet extremely effective way to encourage people to vote because let’s face it, who wouldn’t want a free Tesla? In fact this contest saw over 100,000 entries within 24 hours, which is a pretty incredible turnout. Now, we know this is a pretty extreme example as not everyone is able to give a way five free cars (let alone Teslas!) but it just goes to show the level of power and authority social influencers are starting to gain, and how they are channelling it into big, important causes.

It’s not just with individual influencers where we have seen a shift in focus from the usual content to talk more about social issues, as certain brands and accounts across Instagram have been very vocal on encouraging users to get out and vote, for instance Highsnobiety – a brand that was created to encompass everything from fashion, streetwear, music and design. They have been extremely vocal in their message; and that is, to get out and vote.

During the course of election day/week (depending how you want to look at it) Instagram also took it upon themselves to try and direct more users to useful information sources in the hope of preventing people from spreading false information on such an important topic. Any posts that are related to the election had a short banner at the bottom where you can click to see the latest updates on the election. Previously it would direct you to a page where you could register to vote. It seems like a helpful addition with so much false information or ‘fake news’ often finding its way around.

2020 has thrown up a lot of social challenges for us all to deal with, and it’s clear we have seen a change in tone. There are more influencers who want to make their voice heard for the better and what to help drive change in the world. Though, of course, there is a question of whether or not it’s wise to be giving so much power to people who, more often than not, have just exploded into the limelight out of nowhere.

Could the way social media transformed its focus in preparation for the US election be a springboard for more influencers to put aside their primary focus of brand collaboration and begin to use their platforms to help influence for the better? Or was this just another ‘trend’ people decided to jump on? As many brands continue to choose to shift to social influencers ahead of other methods of online marketing, it’s certainly one we’re keen to keep an eye on.

The question that drove us to analyse this trend was how many voters were influenced by a celebrity or social influencer to go and vote. It’s impossible to answer that question at this stage. However, with 49% of consumers being dependant on influencer recommendations before making a purchase it’s not outside the realm of possibility that influencers have had a large impact on the 2020 US election – whether that’s in a positive way or not, we’ll let you decide.