As the 2014 campaign season heats up, we thought we would share with you our list of Top 10 tips for using Facebook in political campaigns.
According to a Pew Internet and American Life survey, Facebook users who engage with politicians are more than twice as likely to vote as non-Facebook users. Facebook users are also 78 percent more likely to influence their friends to vote. With more than 50 percent of U.S. residents active on Facebook, that’s a huge potential voter pool.
More than 128 million people actively use Facebook on a daily basis in the United States, and they spend an average of 114 billion minutes a month browsing the site. In 2012, 12 percent of all election spending went to social media — a 616 percent increase from 2008.
In a Jan. 20, 2014, article in Politico Magazine, the magazine reported on an Election Day get-out-the-vote experiment with Facebook by political scientist James Fowler. Fowler found that during the 2010 election, Facebookers delivered 61 million get-out-the-vote messages that he estimated increased voter turnout by 340,000.
The article also reported that in eight of nine toss-up U.S. Senate races last year, the candidate with the more engaged Facebook fan base won the election, and in the 2012 U.S. House elections, 20 of the 33 most competitive races across the country were won by the candidate with a measurable advantage in Facebook fan engagement.
In light of the importance of Facebook has in today’s political campaigns, here’s our Top 10 list designed to help candidates and their campaigns engage and communicate with their constituents and supporters:
1. Try to upload an image or photo with every post. Posts with images get twice the amount of engagement as other posts. That means a candidate should always have a campaign staffer taking photographs during campaign events and a candidate meeting with constituents. When posting, make sure you that you tag the names of people and organizations who are in the photos, so they can share the posts with their Facebook friends. Need volunteers? Show a photo of people knocking on doors or making phone calls. Have yard signs or bumper stickers available? Show a photo of the yard sign or sticker on a car. When you don’t have an appropriate photo, use your campaign logo or a photograph of the candidate.
2. Schedule posts between 9 and 10 p.m. This hour is one of the most engaging time periods on Facebook. Facebook has a feature that allows you to schedule posts for specific time periods so you can make sure you’re reaching your fans during the best time periods.
3. Post to your Page regularly, once a day if possible. Regular posts keep your supporters more engaged and keeps your content in their news feeds.
4. Promote your page organically. Once you create a Facebook page, you need to actively promote it so voters and supporters can find it. Add a link to you Page wherever you can online, including on your campaign website, your Twitter account, and in YouTube video descriptions. In addition, promote the page offline in places like direct mail pieces, campaign literature, and TV ads. When promoting your Page in places other than on the Internet, make sure that you use a personalized URL for your page, such as facebook.com/judyforjudge. You should also ask your friends, family, and supporters to “like” your Page and to invite their friends to like it.
5. Use Facebook ads to promote content, gain new fans, and increase engagement. Facebook ads promote campaign content to fans and friends of fans. At any time, only about 16 percent of fans of a campaign Facebook page will see this content organically, but by boosting the content through Facebook ads, these fans can see the campaign’s latest commercials or volunteer opportunities. Make sure you target these ads and promoted posts to appropriate geographic areas for your campaign. You can also tailor your post to focus on specific demographics, such as gender and age groups.
6. Create an interactive experience by involving your audience in the discussion. Gauging the opinions of your constituents using Facebook Questions — a feature that lets you get recommendations, conduct polls and learn from your friends and other people on Facebook — or encouraging fans of your Page to submit questions or comments creates a genuine dialogue between politicians and their supporters.
7. Post in your own voice. Facebook users have come to expect a genuine experience when engaging with the friends and causes they value the most. Sharing photos from “behind the scene” and highlighting the human aspect of the campaign is the best way to let supporters see a candidate as a real person.
8. Use multimedia. Posting live or pre-recorded video segments on your Page is a great way to involve supporters in the goings-on of your campaign. Hosting live video through third-party Facebook Page tabs is also a great way to provide a variety of engaging materials for your supporters to share.
9. Use Facebook Insights. Facebook provides a wealth of information on the Insights tab of your Facebook page. These analytics provide a wide range of data that can provide insights to things like:
- The best times for posting and the type of posts with the most interaction
- The number of people reached through a post
- Number of interactions with a post
- How many times your Facebook page has been viewed
10. For more sophisticated campaigns, consider creating a custom Page tab apps. Facebook allows campaigns to create custom page tab applications to drive awareness, gain fans, solicit donations, seek volunteers, and spread messages. A Page tab application allows visitors see something other than the candidate’s Facebook wall when they first visit a campaign Facebook page and but are not yet fans of the Page. Facebook also allows this tab to be specifically customized in ways that are consistent with your campaign strategy. For example, when you visit when you visit Elizabeth Warren’s Facebook page, you get an “Are You With Me?” app, which allows the campaign to build a database of email addresses of campaign supporters to allow for future communications from the campaign. During the 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama utilized several custom Page tab apps on his campaign’s Facebook page, including a Donate tab to accept campaign contribution on his Page.
Using these 10 Facebook tips will help your campaign engage voters, spread your messages, and drive your Facebook friends to the polls on Election Day.