Annenberg Radio

New USG Elect President and Vice President reflect on social media campaigning tactics

Alexis Areias and Lucy Warren talk about how they campaigned amid a pandemic.

Who runs the world? Girls! For only the second time in the USC’s Student Government history, two women will serve as the president and vice president for the upcoming school year. These leaders also won their posts after campaigning in a historic election—USG’s first-ever remote election—because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Play music from campaign video

This is a campaign video for the new USG president and vice president. Alexis Areias, the USG president-elect, is a political science student. She and her running mate Lucy Warren, an economic student, were sitting in their weekly senate meeting when they found out they had just been elected on the USG cabinet. Looking back, Areais acknowledges it wasn’t an easy feat.

“I think in any given year, campaigns are difficult. Right. But I think the pandemic obviously posed a whole slew of new challenges.”

With the absence of the bombardment of campaign signs on Trousdale Parkway, candidates were forced to think outside the box. Without the ability to meet people face-to-face, the team needed to find creative ways to gain voters.

Dora Kingsley Verternen is an expert in political consulting, election campaigns, and social media. She says that, amid the pandemic, social media and technology actually provides an advantage.

“There’s nothing that replaces the handshake, the personal touch, the standing out on the avenue, you know, talking at lunch, out on the quad. But the truth of the matter is, using and leveraging technology lets us reach a lot more people.”

And that’s exactly what Areais and her team did. They used everything social media could offer to reach as many people as possible. They answered people’s questions on Instagram and Facebook Live, Zoom interviews, and in their original videos. They created websites and even a podcast so that people can also access their campaign outside of the social media sphere.

But the team wouldn’t have been able to publish as much content as they did without one essential person.

“I think our... videographer really set the tone.”

That’s Lucy Warren, Areais’s running mate and Vice President. Warren says, without their videographer, people might not have engaged with their campaign at all.

“I found that having those videos that showed a little bit what what we are about was probably the most impactful as far as getting engagement and just spreading the word.”

In their videos, Areias and Warren showed their priorities for inclusion and protecting fellow Trojans. Verternen says thinking on a community level like Areais’ team has demonstrated is part of becoming a successful candidate.

“It’s important, particularly for student leaders and people who are campaigning again to stop thinking about sort of the individual or even the issue, but start thinking about communities of interest and the people who want to be together to get something accomplished. And then the politics becomes secondary.”

The leaders plan on continuing their social media tactics throughout their term. Specifically, Warren says they hope to create a new USG President- Vice President Instagram account so that students can continue to engage with the cabinet.

“We want to revamp our current USG Instagram and make it more people centric. Really make sure we’re we’re highlighting the advocacy projects that we’re doing. We had that post with that was one of our highest engagement that just showed the projects that we’re currently working on.”

Areais agrees. She says social media is a great way to become more accessible to students.

“Beyond just our campaign, every single campaign, every single candidate that was in this race just came up with some really innovative, creative ideas on how to utilize these platforms. I think it will set the tone for future elections in a lot of ways.”

If there is anything the pandemic taught the USG, it’s to get creative in any way you can- even on social media.

For Annenberg Media, I’m Nicole Antounian.