The Joe Biden campaign is taking over a popular Instagram account from a teen supporter, who built a huge following over their summer break. Formerly a fan account, @VoteJoe account will now serve as the campaign’s primary point of grassroots outreach on Instagram, supplementing Biden’s personal account.
The account began as @TeamJoeBiden and launched earlier this year by a 15-year-old supporter from California. The young supporter spent their summer creating content for the account which quickly grew to over 85,000 followers. The campaign contacted the owner of the account earlier this year asking if they could acquire it and switch it over as an official campaign channel. Now, the account’s former owner will be volunteering for the campaign and will continue to make content after school alongside Biden’s Social Media and Audience Development team.
The @VoteJoe account now has over 93,000 followers as of publication.
Before joining the campaign, the account largely posted quasi-official content like clips from Billie Eilish’s DNC appearance and information-based Instagram feed galleries that could easily be mistaken for official campaign messaging. Now, the campaign says it plans to use the account to boost user-generated content from Biden supporters, whether it’s videos or screenshots of tweets. The campaign is also planning Instagram stories that mirror the PowerPoint-style activism that’s grown popular on Instagram over the last few months.
“What we’ve seen blowing up in places both in and outside of politics is a focus on shareable content,” Sarah J. Galvez, director of social and audience development for the Biden campaign, told The Verge. “Previous to this, you would have these conversations with your friends, your colleagues, and your family in person. But as a result of COVID, we’re having these political conversations online.”
This isn’t the first time a campaign has harnessed organic online support. Progressives like Bernie Sanders and Sen. Ed Markey launched TikTok accounts earlier this year that allowed supporters to submit videos to be posted on the official channel. Staff from the Markey campaign frequently interacted with their supporters and the memes they created throughout his 2020 primary run against Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA).
Over the last week, the Biden campaign has ramped up its online organizing efforts. Last Tuesday, the campaign announced that it was launching official designs in Animal Crossing: New Horizons for voters looking to put virtual yard signs in front of their island homes to show their support. The campaign also partnered up with the celebrity video platform Cameo as part of its broader online fundraising efforts. In July, the Biden team partnered with Hollywood celebrities for official Instagram Live chats with campaign officials and supporters, according to Axios.