Bloomberg campaign pays influencers for memes


Mr Bloomberg responds to a heckler at a Wednesday rally in Nashville, TennesseeImage copyright
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Mr Bloomberg responds to a heckler at a rally on Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg is paying social media influencers to back him in the hope of reaching younger voters.

His campaign has commissioned some of the internet’s top-viral creators to generate content about him that has reached tens of millions of followers.

The former New York Mayor’s campaign director said its meme strategy was new to presidential politics.

He has already spent more than $300m in his bid to win the White House.

Mr Bloomberg, a former Republican, is one of eight remaining contenders vying to become the Democratic presidential candidate who will challenge President Donald Trump in November’s election.

Sabrina Singh, Mr Bloomberg’s national spokeswoman, said: “Mike Bloomberg 2020 has teamed up with social creators to collaborate with the campaign, including the meme world.

“While a meme strategy may be new to presidential politics, we’re betting it will be an effective component to reach people where they are and compete with President Trump’s powerful digital operation.”

What are the posts saying?

The campaign has been working with Meme 2020, a company that represents some of the biggest social media accounts in the so-called influencer economy.

@GrapeJuiceBoys – an account that often posts memes about black culture and has 2.7m followers – confirmed to the BBC it had produced paid content for the Bloomberg campaign, but said it did not personally endorse the candidate.

Posts about Mr Bloomberg have also appeared in @Tank.Sinatra (2.3m followers) and the account run by Jerry Media (14.9m followers), as well as several others.

The ads all show that they were paid for by the Bloomberg campaign, a disclaimer required under the US Federal Election Commission’s rules on paid online political posts.

Meanwhile, a post on Tribe – an online marketplace that connects “micro-influencers” (those with 1,000 to 100,000 followers) to brands – is advertising a $150 payment for posts supporting Mr Bloomberg.

It encourages influencers to mention why “we need a change in Government”.

“Be honest, passionate and be yourself!” the listing adds.

Food and travel blogger Alycia Chrosniak told Reuters news agency she had been offered money to post on Mr Bloomberg’s behalf, but chose not to do so.

“It feels weird to put out an ad supporting a person versus a product,” said Ms Chrosniak, who normally posts sponsored content for restaurants and hotels.

She said Mr Bloomberg was not her “top choice”.

This is not the first time that Mr Bloomberg’s campaign social media strategy has raised eyebrows.

During a Democratic debate in January, in which he failed to qualify for a spot, his campaign account tweeted fake “#BloombergFacts” including an image of the candidate’s face photoshopped on to a meatball.

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