Inside the rise of the political micro-influencer

Inside the rise of the political micro-influencer

Mid-tier social media stars are being hired by marketing agencies to push political messages

The Instagram account of Lauren Hansen, a Wisconsin-based blogger with around 12,000 followers, does not immediately look like a place for politics. But nestled between the fashion tips and baby videos that fill her feed is evidence that Ms Hansen has become part of a new wave of online campaigning.

“I know I personally get really frustrated by the amount of misinformation out there,” reads the caption on a post from May, next to a picture of Ms Hansen in an open field. She goes on to advise her audience to “tune out the noise coming from those who believe we need to sacrifice lives . . . and #stayhome”.

At the bottom of the post sits a small disclaimer: “Paid for by [political action committee] Defeat Disinfo”.

Ms Hansen is one of a growing number of political “micro-influencers”: social media users with moderate followings — typically in the low thousands, as opposed to the millions of the most popular creators — who are paid by political marketing firms and consultants to promote everything from candidates to issues.