Bloomberg pays social media influencers to make him look cool

When you think of Michael Bloomberg, chances are the first thought that pops into your mind probably isn’t “yeah, that guy is cool.” He’s a wealthy, successful businessman but he’s not the cool candidate. Bloomberg is out to change that.

It looks like Bloomberg’s campaign has breached a new frontier in the advertising war – he’s paying social media influencers. A social media influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. Influencers are chosen for their ability to reach a large audience – their followers – on social media. The idea is for the influencer to establish a following that trusts his or her opinions – whether in reviews of products or services or as in this case, of other people.

Paying social media influencers isn’t anything new. Brands do it all the time. People can make a decent living as an influencer, some become quite successful in doing so. The Kardashians, for example, come to mind. The next level down from them would be young people like Lori Loughlin’s daughter, Olivia Jade, who reportedly made hundreds of thousands of dollars as an influencer before her parents’ involvement in the college admissions fraud scandal made headlines. There are thousands of social media users who monetize YouTube channels or Instagram accounts to make money off of their influence over their followers. It is a market made for Millennials, the generation that has never known a world without the internet.

Mike Bloomberg is no dummy. He’s a savvy businessman. So it probably shouldn’t be a shock that he has tapped into this market with his presidential campaign. His campaign is the only one using influencers so far. I have no doubt that others will do the same in the future if the Bloomberg campaign sees decent results. It is a new frontier in advertising that can end up with as much influence as Facebook or Twitter. Instagram and YouTube are extremely popular with younger social media users.

The Bloomberg campaign is using Tribe, a “branded content marketplace” that connects social media influencers with the brands that want to advertise to their followers. The campaign is reaching out to influencers to create content highlighting why they love Bloomberg. And, of course, he’s happy to pay for that creative content. The campaign has a fixed price to compensate the influencers – $150.00 if a submission is approved. A clever twist in this strategy is that the campaign is specifically seeking out micro-influencers – those social media content makers who have 1,000 to 100,000 followers, as opposed to celebrities and established influencers, who can have millions of followers. This search could open up a whole new market for politicians looking to inspire grassroots support.

“Are you sick of the chaos & infighting overshadowing the issues that matter most to us? Please express your thoughts verbally or for still image posts please overlay text about why you support Mike,” the campaign copy tells would-be Bloomberg stans under the heading “Content We’d Love From You,” asking influencers to “Show+Tell why Mike is the candidate who can change our country for the better, state why YOU think he’s a great candidate.”

That’s basic enough. It’s like when candidates round up people who their campaign think are a good representation of their supporters and film a campaign ad that humanizes the candidate. Neighbors, work colleagues, family members, you get the picture. Now, though, especially with Millennials, social media replaces real-life friendships and day to day interaction. So, instead of having lunch with friends or coffee with a neighbor, they go to social media and interact. Bloomberg has shown himself to be a micro-manager during this campaign. Remember the idea he put forth of an open floor plan in the White House if he’s elected? That is a horrible idea but it tells volumes on his management style. He’ll be looking over shoulders. It’s also a cheap way for the Bloomberg campaign to advertise to a bigger audience.

Tribe, which works with nearly 70,000 aspiring influencers, offers brands—and, in this case, presidential campaigns—the ability to solicit custom-made content from aspiring influencers, who create custom social within the brand’s parameters for submission. If the brand accepts the content, the influencer is paid in exchange for the ability of the brand to license the content and place it on their own social channels—or, if the campaign prefers, the influencers post the #sponcon to their own feeds, targeting followers that the brand might not otherwise reach.

The campaign post, reviewed by The Daily Beast, encourages submissions to be well lit, mention why the influencer thinks “we need a change in Government,” and for the creator to “be honest, passionate and be yourself!”

Influencers are asked not to use profanity, nudity, or “overtly negative content,” as well as be U.S. residents to participate.

To be honest, the first thought I had when I read about all this was, “Oh, no, not more Bloomberg advertising.” There is no escaping Bloomberg campaign ads unless you have the luxury of shutting out the world and sitting in a comfortable chair with a good book. Most of us don’t. For people like me who have the television on during waking hours, Bloomberg is bombarding us with ads each and every day. Billionaires can do that. What’s a little more to him? He’s paid his way into third place in some polls and makes no apologies about buying the presidency.

Bloomberg is breaking new ground here. Expect other campaigns to do the same if his campaign sees results from entering this realm of advertising.