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League of Women Voters of California: An Award-Winning Campaign to Mobilize Youth Voters!

Silver Anvils Finalists

League of Women Voters of California approached Mixte to launch a digital campaign that achieved one main goal – to motivate California youth ages 18-24, specifically in Black and Latinx communities, to vote in the 2020 general election and to view voting as an integral part of their efforts to drive social change. With thorough research on the state of youth civic engagement to inform messaging, outreach to young Black and Latinx digital influencers to communicate that voting was easy and integral for social change and social media ads and assets that promoted the importance of voting, we were able to engage California youth in important conversations about voting and activism. We also accomplished well above our target goals, and achieved national recognition with the following awards in 2021 (including four PRSA Anvil Awards!):

  • National Silver Anvil: Influencer Marketing Program To Expand Awareness > Micro-Influencers
  • National Silver Anvil: Multicultural Public Relations
  • National Bronze Anvil: Tik Tok Campaign
  • National Award of Commendation Bronze Anvil: Creative Tactics
  • Hispanic Public Relations Association ¡Bravo! Campaign Award: Public Affairs Campaign
  • Hispanic Public Relations Association ¡Bravo! Campaign Award: Social Justice Campaign
  • National PR NEWS Platinum PR Award: Public Affairs
  • National PR NEWS Platinum PR Award: Community Engagement

Introducing #VotingMovesCA
2020 solidified a new era for youth advocacy and activism: Young people specifically utilized social media and other digital platforms to educate and mobilize their networks for racial justice, which contributed to a historic modern civil rights movement in support of Black lives.

However, research showed that while youth voices were extremely impactful during similar protests and through digital activism in the past, this often didn’t align with voter turnout rates among those same demographics in subsequent elections. Young people and historically marginalized communities (described as “low propensity voters) in particular are the most likely to make their voices heard through grassroots efforts, but the least likely to be heard at the polls.

“According to ​Circle, Youth Voting and Civic Engagement in America​, from Tufts University, California voters aged 18-29 had only a 37% turnout in the 2016 general election. This decreased to a 30% turn out rate in the 2018 general election. In the 2020 Primary election, the turnout rate decreased again, and for the same group the turnout was 10% overall​. While we generally expect to see lower turnout for a primary vs general election, a 20% decrease in voters in that age group is substantial. Youth voters are trending less likely to turn out to vote.”
Stephanie Doute, Executive Director – Digital Get Out the Vote & Youth Civic Engagement (Campaign Analysis Paper)

League of Women Voters of California is a nonprofit organization charged with empowering women and their communities to be more politically engaged. It’s new executive director committed to active allyship and to raising and centering the voices of people most impacted by injustice. This meant “ensuring that younger voters understood that their voices matter in the streets and at the ballot box…as they can, and should, be heard in both places.”

Mixte worked with the League of Women Voters of California to research messaging most likely to reach young voters, particularly in Black and Latinx communities. We learned that voting in the middle of a pandemic was a major concern for this demographic and that they’d look to friends, family and social media for information on how to vote – whether by mail or in person.

We know this generation has tremendous potential when their voices are heard. If we can overcome historic and unprecedented voting barriers by providing easy information, launching creative campaigns and centering trustworthy and relatable spokespeople, we may be able to justify getting on TikTok after all.

Tactics: 

  • Hired Snapchat influencers from key areas to mobilize campaign messages and calls to action with character. We will not provide the creative, rather we will provide the insights and let them create.
  • Repurposed user-generated video content – Posted influencer-created video content onto our Snapchat page to draw attention to voting milestones leading up to election day
  • Launched Snapchat ads – Repurposed influencer-generated videos as Snapchat ads leading up to key dates
  • Utilized geofilters – Set up geofilters to engage audiences in chosen geographic areas
  • One 24-hour Snapchat filter – In collaboration with Snapchat, choose the best date and launch a Snapchat filter to raise awareness about the importance of voting and encourage civic engagement in a fun way
  • Leveraged partner networks – We made it easy for partners in key geographic areas to participate in Snapchat and TikTok campaigns
  • Repurposed partner videos + resources – Shared existing partner videos across platforms

The Outcome

Our client stepped out of their comfort zone to reach young voters and the results were definitely worth it. We reached well over our target goals with more than one million earned impressions, nearly six million paid impressions, and just over one million total swipes to the landing page. Here are the specifics:

  • On Snapchat – Ads had 4,570,207 total impressions and filters earned 2,015,485 impressions
  • On TikTok – Influencers earned 1,425,077 views, 195,821 total likes, 3,171 comments and 14,771 shares
  • Users shared our content across all platforms, with our statewide geofilter being shared 19,424 in one day
  • The landing page was visited 133,000 times by 51,000 unique users, 813 of which clicked the “pledge to vote” button

The more significant impact, however, was in the campaign’s intangible results. The influencers we worked with found purpose through working on this campaign and in using their platforms to encourage their peers to vote.

“The way this campaign influenced me to think about my own social media platform is that everyone has a voice and if we all work together for a common goal then we can create really substantial change.”

Our Key Takeaways:

Eventually, the election came and went. As we reflected on the campaign, we noted a handful of lessons that we learned from this campaign that we want to share with other organizations doing similar work to uplift and support Black and Latinx California-based voters:

  • Start early
  • Focus on micro and macro-influencers (and don’t underestimate the power of micro-influencers)
  • Leverage user-generated content
  • Supplement on-the-ground work with location-based content
  • Stay focused on your goals and calls to action
  • Non-partisan approach is critical
  • Remember who you’re talking to
  • Be fun. Be simple.

The executive director wrote a summary report of the campaign (link coming as soon as it publishes) reflecting on what she learned from working on the project – from stepping back to amplify the voices of an intern with a better perspective on what would actually resonate with Gen Z voters, to utilizing digital-first tools to supplement on-the-ground work, and tapping into the power of micro-influencers and user-generated content to spread our message across channels other than our own. The now-documented insights gained from this campaign will surely influence youth voter outreach in future elections.

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