Can Social Media Revolutionize Gen Z Voter Participation?
A social media influencer is a user who has established credibility in a specific industry via social media.
The term has gained a negative connotation, many traditionalists denouncing this new form of ‘celebrity’ emerging in the Hollywood scene. Compared to the typical Hollywood sphere of actresses and singers, becoming a social media influencer tends to be easier in regards to growing a fanbase, many niche opportunities, and less competition.
Social influencer marketing has recently become popular, with brands choosing social media influencers over celebrities to endorse and promote their products. Social media influencers tend to be more “relatable” towards a more general audience than A-listers which can benefit brands to appear more friendly and ethical to the public. This relatability factor also explains why social media influencers have started to expand and use their platforms for more serious topics like charity endorsements, social justice movements, and now political activism.
Following the results of the voting demographic in the 2020 election, this article will be highlighting how social media influencers played a role in the unprecedented increase in Gen Z voter participation.
According to this graph, Gen Z voters have consistently performed worse compared to the millennial and boomer generations, with averages between 40 to 50%. Reasons as to why the millennial and boomer generations vote more are because of their greater concerns on health care and housing policies, more free time to register and vote, and the social norm of voting when reaching adulthood.
Now let’s compare this to the 2020 presidential election.
According to CNBC news, Simon Rosenberg the president of New Policy Institute states, “53% to 55% of registered 18 to 29-year-olds appear to have voted.” While 2020 has proven itself to be a very important year with the pandemic lockdown, the introduction of the Green New Deal, and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, we can’t help but realize that social media has also played a role in leading Generation Z to have an unprecedented increase in voter participation.
From this graph, Instagram is the most recognizable social media platform for Generation Z which has prompted many celebrities to post pictures relating to voter registration.
Here is an article detailing the effect of Kylie Jenner’s Instagram post and how traffic on Vote.org for voting registration surged up to 1500%.
HeadCount takes advantage of this new social media marketing by creating a platform for content creators to have the digital needs to increase civic participation within their fan bases. Influencers such as Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, and J.Cole, have partnered with HeadCount and have publicized their affiliate links to fans on Instagram or Twitter. Amongst all these well-established musicians and artists, David Dobrik, a DACA recipient who’s been stressing policies for young Dreamers everywhere, is the record holder this year with 120,000 voters registered after he announced his Tesla giveaway.
The initiative #GoodToVote was created by HeadCount and used by many social media influencers along with celebrities like Jeff Goldblum and Samuel L. Jackson; even traditional celebrities have taken to participating in social media campaigns.
In conclusion, Generation Z seems to finally be heading in the right direction by using their voting rights and having their issues heard. Social media will continue to be a viable tool in the future for influencing the younger generation, and politicians everywhere should learn how to implement and utilize this influential platform for future campaigns.
Gal, Shayanne. “What Social Media Platforms Gen Z Checks On a Daily Basis.” Business Insider, 2019, https://www.businessinsider.com/gen-z-loves-snapchat-instagram-and-youtube-social-media-2019-6. Accessed 1 December 2020.
Hess, Abigail. “The 2020 election shows Gen Z’s voting power for years to come.” CNBC Make It, 18 November 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/18/the-2020-election-shows-gen-zs-voting-power-for-years-to-come.html. Accessed 1 December 2020.
United States Census Bureau. “Voting Rates by Age.” United States Census Bureau, 10 May 2017, https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/2017/comm/voting-rates-age.html. Accessed 1 December 2020.