We at BloomSocial would wager that it is impossible to be alive in America and not have seen a Michael Bloomberg ad for his presidential campaign. Bloomberg, the multi-billionaire, former New York mayor is in the midst of an incredibly expensive campaign to win the Democratic Primary in 2020. His campaign spending is likely to cross the $1 billion marker, which is enough to outpace each of his competitors combined and give him the dubious crown for most money spent on a campaign in the history of the United States. There are ideas to explore about the stark contrast between Bloomberg’s campaign and the much more modest, crowdfunded campaign run by his competitor Bernie Sanders, but this is a blog for social media, not politics.
One of the largest portions of Bloomberg’s enormous campaign costs comes from the over $50 million spent on digital advertisement, which includes advertisements on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and sponsored posts within Google search results. In an age where advertisement is becoming increasingly more digital, it would stand to reason that each candidate would take this approach, yet we see Bloomberg utilizing different avenues than what’s been used before. Bloomberg has taken to the Instagram influencer market by offering them money to give him shoutouts. Meme pages and other various influencers have posted memes, fake DM conversations, and more; all funded by the Bloomberg campaign. After spending countless hours on Instagram, Reddit, and Facebook, it is clear that there is an overwhelmingly negative response to this advertisement campaign. With that in mind, here are three important lessons to learn from this campaign that can be utilized in your social media strategy, regardless of budget.
1. Target the right audience
This is an area where Bloomberg hit the nail on the head. By targeting the social media world, and namely the Instagram market, Bloomberg is speaking to an audience that has produced the lowest voter participation throughout the majority of American presidential history. According to the census data taken from the 2016 election, the 18-29 year old age group featured a 46% participation rate, compared to a whopping 71% participation rate from ages 65 and above, 67% from ages 45 to 64, and 59% from ages 30 to 44. This is a demographic that is uninspired, especially coming off what was many people’s first ballot; one where they had to choose between two unsavory candidates. By targeting ads towards this demographic that traditionally under-contributes, Bloomberg is hoping to capture a vote that has been historically absent.
2. The wrong message is worse than no message
In the world of robotics, there is a theory called the Uncanny Valley which states that no matter how close robots get to resembling humans, we will always be able to tell the difference between a robot and a human. This is a great theory to apply to paid advertisement to determine what is real and what seems unnatural. Bloomberg has been lambasted by much of the audience who noticed the “uncanny valley” that formed within his advertisements. His jokes come off as disingenuous, his influencer shoutouts are discarded as “corporate sellouts”, and his memes are painfully bad. If there’s one rule to live by in the social media world, it’s this: in an increasingly digital age, people still long for human, emotional connection. These ads fail to connect with their audience, and because they fail so miserably, they have the potential to do more harm than good.
3. If all else fails, throw a ton of money at the problem
If you can toss $1 billion at your problems, you may not have them for long. On a more serious note, a larger budget for your ads can make up for a less creative message, but for those of you working with a much smaller budget, the message needs to be on point. Money can solve a lot of problems, but a smarter message will always go further.
What are your thoughts on the Bloomberg campaign? Do you think he’s been effective in his social media campaign? Do you actually like his memes? Let us know in the comments below.
Editors note: The numbers listed in this blog are accurate as of March 2nd, 2020.