The Role of Political Influencers in Shaping Public Opinion

Date Published
April 5, 2023


The Role of Political Influencers in Shaping Public Opinion: An Examination of the Power and Influence of Political Influencers on Social Media and Their Impact on Political Communications

Social media has changed the way that people engage with political issues, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the rise of political influencers. These individuals, who use their online presence to advocate for political causes and shape public opinion, have become a powerful force in modern political communications. In this article, I will examine the role of political influencers in shaping public opinion, their impact on political communications, and the potential pitfalls of using influencers to shape public opinion.


The Power of Political Influencers on Social Media

Political influencers have the ability to reach large audiences on social media platforms and shape public opinion. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, about two-thirds of adults in the United States get their news from social media platforms, making it a fertile ground for political influencers to shape public opinion. Influencers can reach these audiences with a variety of content, including videos, posts, and memes that are shared widely on social media. And surely we know and have gotten used to the fact that whatever trend is observed in the United States, it is only a matter of time for it to spill over the rest of the world.

In addition to their reach, political influencers often have a large and dedicated following on social media. This following can provide them with a platform to advocate for political causes and shape public opinion. For example, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, has used her social media platforms to advocate for policies like the Green New Deal, which has become a major topic of conversation in U.S. politics.

The Ethics of Political Influencer Marketing

Despite their power and reach, the use of political influencers in shaping public opinion raises ethical considerations. For example, the use of influencers to advocate for political causes can blur the line between advocacy and propaganda. This can lead to questions about the authenticity of the messaging and the motivations behind it.


There is also the issue of disclosure. In some cases, influencers may not disclose their relationship with a political campaign or organization, leading to questions about the authenticity of their messaging. This lack of transparency can undermine the credibility of the messaging and erode public trust in the influencer.

The Strategies of Political Influencers on Social Media

Despite these ethical considerations, political influencers continue to be a major force in shaping public opinion. To be successful, political influencers use a variety of strategies to engage with their audiences and advocate for political causes. These strategies can include using emotional appeals, leveraging current events, and using humor or satire to make their point.

One example of an effective political influencer is Emma González, a survivor of the Parkland school shooting in the U.S. and advocate for gun control. González used her social media platforms to advocate for gun control and to rally support for the March for Our Lives, a nationwide protest against gun violence. Her messaging was emotional and powerful, using personal anecdotes and appeals to empathy to engage her audience.


The Impact of Political Influencers on Elections

Political influencers have also had a major impact on elections. In the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, social media platforms were a major battleground for political influencers on both sides of the aisle. Influencers used their platforms to rally support for their preferred candidate, attack their opponents, and shape public opinion.

One example of this was the use of TikTok by young voters to advocate for the Biden/Harris ticket. TikTok creators like Sarah Cooper, who became famous for her lip-syncing videos of President Donald Trump, used their platforms to create viral content that advocated for the Democratic ticket. This content was widely shared on social media and helped to rally young voters to the polls.

The Role of Political Influencers in Policy-Making

Political influencers can also have an impact on policy-making. By shaping public opinion, influencers can help to create a groundswell of support for policies and issues. This can put pressure on policymakers to address these issues and take action. One example of this is the #MeToo movement, which gained traction on social media and led to a wave of public pressure on policymakers to address sexual harassment and assault.


In some cases, political influencers may also directly engage with policymakers and advocate for specific policies or legislation. For example, unless you live under a rock, you have surely heard of Greta Thunberg, a young environmental activist, who has used her social media platforms to advocate for climate change action and has also directly engaged with world leaders at international climate conferences.

The Risks and Challenges of Political Influencer Marketing

Despite their potential benefits, the use of political influencers in shaping public opinion also carries risks and challenges. One major challenge is the issue of accountability. Because political influencers are not held to the same standards as traditional journalists or public figures, there is often little accountability for the accuracy or authenticity of their messaging.


Another challenge is the issue of algorithmic bias. Social media algorithms are designed to promote content that is engaging and gets high levels of interaction. This means that content that is controversial or provocative may be more likely to go viral, even if it is inaccurate or misleading. This can lead to the spread of misinformation and contribute to political polarization.

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What’s Next?

Political influencers have become a major force in shaping public opinion and political communications on social media. They have the power to reach large audiences, advocate for political causes, and influence policy-making. However, the use of political influencers also raises ethical considerations, including issues of authenticity, transparency, and accountability.

But it doesn’t stop here! As social media continues to play a major role in politics, it is as of recent years, not the only player. The emergence of deep fakes and the increasing role of AI in politics, political communications, and lobbying is making these times incredibly transformative and interesting. While deep fakes present ethical challenges and potential risks to the integrity of political discourse, AI has the potential to revolutionize the way politicians communicate with the public and how lobbyists target their messages.

It will be fascinating to see how these technologies continue to develop and shape our political landscape, and how society adapts to their impact. As we move forward, it is important that we remain aware of the potential consequences and work to mitigate any negative effects while embracing the exciting possibilities that these technologies bring.

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