Political Content on Social Media 2020

Rules of Audience Engagement for Commercial Advertisers During an Election Year

About This Report
The influx of political content and ad dollars for the upcoming US presidential election will inevitably impact commercial advertisers on social media. Understanding the political ad cycle and consumer attitudes toward political content can help brands better reach their audiences.

Executive Summary

With eight months to go until the 2020 US presidential election, political activity on social media is heating up. This report serves as a playbook for commercial brands on how to cut through the political noise and reach their audiences on social.

How do US consumers feel about political content on social media?

Consumers say they dislike it, particularly the ads, but they’re mainly talking about political content they disagree with. We don’t expect most US social media users to significantly change their behavior ahead of the 2020 US presidential election.

How will the new political ad rules impact the social media user experience?

Political ad bans or restrictions will do little to rein in organic political content and misinformation on social platforms. Political advertising made up a sliver of Twitter’s total ad revenues, and while it’s bigger business for Facebook, it’s still a small portion of all political content on the platform.

How can commercial brands best reach social media users during the 2019/2020 election cycle?

Increased political activity on social media could make it more difficult for brands to effectively reach their customers. Understanding consumer attitudes toward political content on social media and how political campaigns use these platforms can help commercial advertisers cut through the noise with paid and organic (unpaid) content.

Should brands get involved in the political conversation on social media?

The influx of political content on social media platforms has heightened brand safety and suitability concerns. Companies should stick to their existing strategies and insert themselves in the conversation only if it’s related to an issue that’s authentic to their brand and longer-term goals.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report explores consumer attitudes and behaviors around political content on social media, and how commercial advertisers can navigate the space during the 2019/2020 election cycle.

KEY STAT: Facebook will bring in $550.0 million on political ads in 2020, but that’s just 1.5% of its total US ad revenues.

Here’s what’s in the full report


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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. The State of Politics on Social Media
  3. Navigating Social Media During the 2020 Election Cycle
  1. Key Takeaways
  2. eMarketer Interviews
  3. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Ellie Bamford
Vice President, Head of Media and Connections
Interviewed March 13, 2020
Michael Bassik
Assembly and MDC Media Partners
Interviewed January 27, 2020
Michael Beach
Cross Screen Media
Founder and CEO
Interviewed January 30, 2020
Grace Briscoe
Vice President, Client Development, Candidates and Causes
Interviewed January 23, 2020
Jen Capstraw
Women of Email
President and Co-Founder
Interviewed February 24, 2020
Ron Cohen
Vice President, Product Strategy
Interviewed February 13, 2020
John Durham
Catalyst SF
CEO and Managing General Partner
Interviewed January 22, 2020
Tristan Hotham
University of Bath/Who Targets Me?
Interviewed February 12, 2020
Anna Massoglia
Center for Responsive Politics
Interviewed February 20, 2020
Piotr Sapiezynski
Northeastern University
Associate Research Scientist
Interviewed February 20, 2020
Brad Simms
Gale Partners
President and CEO
Interviewed January 23, 2020
Maria Sipka
Co-Founder and Executive Vice President, Brand Strategy
Interviewed January 24, 2020
Andrea Toop
Gale Partners
Global Lead, Business Development and Brand
Interviewed March 2, 2020
Eric Wilson
Republican Digital Strategist
Interviewed February 13, 2020

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Eric Haggstrom
Forecasting Analyst
Lucy Koch
Junior Analyst
Nicole Perrin
Principal Analyst
Chuck Rawlings
Debra Aho Williamson
Principal Analyst

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