Democrats Are Leading In Pennsylvania. Here’s How Candidates Can Use Social Media Trends To Increase Funding And Garner Attention Online.
We analyzed Pennsylvania Democrats John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro's online campaign strategy to determine how they have managed to stay ahead of their opponents in the upcoming midterm race.
The countdown to the midterms begins, and the stakes couldn’t be higher for the state of Pennsylvania. In a year we all know will be tough for Democrats, candidates John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro are prepared to take on the challenge of adding a new strategy to their campaign style - social media feud trends.
While being present on social media has become vital for any candidate running for office, we are seeing more and more candidates opting into the trends on social media. No candidate has received as much attention for their online strategy as John Fetterman. He has embraced more non-traditional political advertising by going online, showing off his personality, and trolling his opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz. But all of this is only made possible by having a clear understanding of his target audience on the platforms.
As the campaign trails on, we at People First wanted to take a moment to see how successful this strategy might be for candidates aiming to increase fundraising and embrace impactful connections with their voters online.
BIG TAKEAWAY: Candidates can and should be using social media trends to garner voters' attention, increase fundraising efforts, and encourage authentic engagements.
Online Audiences want to be entertained and understood.
Younger audiences are craving community and authenticity and turning to social media to find it.
Candidates can utilize social media feud trends to create strong in-groups on platforms that are known to draw in younger crowds.
SLEEPER TAKEAWAY: Social media trends are centered around displaying your personality and creativity in a relatable way. By jumping on social media trends you can demonstrate common interests and goals with your voters.
The polls currently show Fetterman up by 10 points over Dr. Oz, an unexpected result in one of the toughest years for Democrats.
Fetterman’s online campaign strategy has called attention to the downfalls of his opponent in a way that not only grabs the attention of his audience but is also quite entertaining. After Dr. Oz posted a video attempting to criticize rising inflation but instead demonstrated how out-of-touch he is with your average blue-collar Pennsylvanian, Fetterman took to Twitter. The virality of this post helped the campaign raise $500,000 in less than 24hrs according to CNBC.
With a simple comparison of the engagements and dollar donations, it’s clear that Fetterman is winning in this popularity contest, but the question remains: Do engagements equal votes? This is not an easy question to answer, especially as voting has not yet begun in Pennsylvania, but we can attempt to understand who he is engaging with online.
Though Fetterman has gained national attention for his social media tactics, it is clear from the data that he is reaching a local audience in a positive way.
Over the last three months, the majority of mentions of John Fetterman have been overwhelmingly positive.
We only see some spikes in negativity as Republicans enter the conversation mentioning Fetterman more recently.
In addition to mentions, the comments on Fetterman’s posts are also positive, often citing support for him in the election and increased resentment for Dr.Oz.
In his posts, he often uses trending TikTok sounds in appropriate ways that demonstrate not only his political ideologies but also his relatable personality.
These posts are strategically shared on platforms that attract a younger audience eager to build a community centered around their personal beliefs and interests. We know from recent studies that the pandemic has changed the way Gen-Z’ers engage online and the rise of TikTok has demonstrated a common interest in raw content and relatable laughs.
Fetterman is using this to his advantage, he is not only present on these platforms but appealing to those most active on the platforms. With increased voter registration among young voters in Pennsylvania, according to Tom Bonier at TargetSmart, it appears the desired target audience has been reached with posts gaining over 2 million views.
Additionally, Josh Shapiro, running for Governor in Pennsylvania, has successfully taken on the feud trend in his race against Doug Mastriano.
Bottom line: Time will only tell the ultimate success of this strategy, but it is clear that these candidates have managed to grab the attention of their target audiences online. Whether or not these voters show up at the polls will vary, but the data shows that these Democrats have successfully garnered the attention and funding of their supporters.