Facebook Guide - CN4 Partners

Facebook is one of the most powerful communications tools that modern-day political campaigns have, and it’s important that your campaign develops a strategy for how to use it. 

Facebook is still the dominant social media platform used by American adults, with approximately 70% using it regularly. With the exception of YouTube, used by 73% of adults – no other major social media platform comes close to Facebook in terms of usage. Only about four-in-ten U.S. adults (37%) say they use Instagram, while smaller shares say they use Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter and WhatsApp. Among U.S. adults who use Facebook, around three-quarters (74%) visit the site at least once a day, according to a 2019 survey. All of this means, your campaign must actively use Facebook. 

There are two ways to use Facebook- organically or as a platform for paid advertising. An organic Facebook strategy focuses on engaging with followers through posts, videos, comments and direct messages while paid advertising on Facebook means that you spend money on Facebook to target users identified as potential supporters. There are many rules around political advertising on Facebook, be sure to check if Facebook is accepting political ads and if your jurisdiction allows political money to be spent on Facebook. 

Here, we will focus on the organic Facebook strategy.

Make sure your social media strategy fits the size of the campaign. We say this because candidates and campaigns have real constraints on time and energy, so you have to focus where you need to in order to win – which sometimes doesn’t mean rollicking social media accounts. 

Using the size of your budget is a good way to determine the resources you should spend developing your social media presence. If your race has a budget of $25,000 you probably only need to focus on building a good Facebook account. Between $25 and $100k, then add an Instagram and Twitter to boost your overall campaign message. Between $100 and $500k, expend real resources and staff time to develop and execute campaign-winning goals. If your race’s budget is above $500,000, hire somebody. 

We have seen too many candidates and campaign managers spend too much time online!  Scrolling your feed is NOT digital organizing, to avoid this enticing trap, allocate resources, develop a plan and stick to it!

Facebook is best used in some key ways:

  1.  Engaging with voters – voters and interest groups want to feel connected to the campaigns that they follow. Using social media platforms to ask questions is a great way to increase engagement and make the people feel heard. 
  2. Creating a buzz about your campaign. An active Facebook page will keep people talking about your campaign- which is a good thing! 
  3. Humanizing your campaign. Voters are more engaged with candidates that they see as real people. Keep your online “voice” personal and don’t be afraid to share information from your personal life. 
  4. Drive attendance to your events. 
  5. Amplify the campaign’s message to reach more individuals and media. Use your social media presence to alert your followers and the general public of your stance on time sensitive issues. 

Keeping these goals in mind, it is helpful to include calls to actions or questions in your post to spark engagement. The more followers engage with your posts, the more people that will see them. 

  • Is your goal general visibility?  You may want to ask your followers to like or share your post to get it in front of more eyeballs.
  • Fundraising ask? Your call to action might be to click on a link to donate to the campaign.
  • Sharing your position on an important issue? Ask your followers a question about that issue.

Facebook cannot take up all your time. Once you understand your goals, spend time creating a social media calendar that outlines your posts. Revisit this calendar at the beginning of each week to make adjustments based on the current landscape of the campaign and current events. Doing this work upfront will allow you to focus on talking to voters and raising money. 

Ask yourself these questions to help build out your calendar:

  1. Will you be writing mostly standard posts, posting pre-recorded videos or using advanced features such as Facebook Live?
  2. How often will you post? You should aim to post on Facebook at least three times a week at the beginning of your campaign and ideally more as your campaign progresses. However, it is important to not post for shits and giggles but save it for meaningful moments. 

Social Media Calendar 

Every campaign has a number of things that you already know you’re likely to post about, so it’s easy to create posts in advance. You can even schedule these directly through Facebook’s platform by clicking on the arrow next to the “Publish” button, and then clicking “Schedule.”

Your social media calendar should include: 

  • Campaign announcement
  • When you officially file for office
  • When absentee ballots are mailed and when and where voting begins
  • Holidays
  • Fundraising Deadlines
  • Fun personal information, like birthdays and your dog’s adoption-day
  • Days/months where we recognize individuals or groups for their contributions include but are not limited to: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Equal Pay Day, Asian History Month, LGBTQ+ Pride Celebrations, Black History Month, Juneteenth, Cesar Chavez Day, World Teachers Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. In addition, you may have local celebrations – in Chicago, for example, they celebrate Casimir Pulaski Day (March 1)
  • Key issues of the campaign
  • Current events and breaking news in your jurisdiction
  • Important national news

Remember- Facebook is a tool to push your message out and communicate with voters. You always want to talk with voters, not talk at. Here are some strategies to help you do that on Facebook:

Setting up a social media rapid response team.

We’ve seen candidates set up a network of digital volunteers who get a message when a post goes up, so they can comment and share the post to increase visibility. This is a great, free way to grow your followers and get your name in front of people who may not know you yet. 

Cross posting and Groups

Starting in 2019, Facebook pages were authorized to join groups. This gives you the opportunity to join various groups focused on interest groups or geography. Once you find these groups within your jurisdiction, you can join them, engage with members, share relevant content, and use them as an outreach tool to amplify your online presence. 

Comments

Part of your Facebook strategy should be ensuring that you stay engaged with your Facebook followers after you post- not engaging with their commenters is a missed opportunity! By engaging, it will drive more activity to the post – then, Facebook will show it to more people because it assumes that post is more popular. 

If there are negative comments that are damaging or untruthful, be sure to hide them so that less people see or engage with the comments.  You can actually set up your page to block specific profane, derogatory, insulting and unacceptable words. That being said, you’re still going to have to regularly monitor your page as the filter will not catch everything. On the other hand, if there are legitimate policy questions, try to respond. This gives voters the feeling that you care about them and will be responsive once in office.

Facebook Messages.

In addition to comments, these days many groups or individuals will use the instant messaging feature to try and contact your campaign to volunteer, request a lawn sign, ask for an appearance by the candidate or schedule an endorsement interview. Someone will need to be designated to check that inbox daily and respond to inquiries. 

Sometimes, the opposition will pose as voters and try to draw the candidate out into taking a controversial opinion in a facebook IM. When in doubt, check the name against the voter file and see if they are a voter in your jurisdiction. And, there’s never a downside to asking the commenter if you can set up a phone call to discuss their issue.

Here are our tips, if you have the resources to develop your social media presence beyond Facebook.

#Hashtags

At the start of your campaign, you and your team should brainstorm one campaign hashtag that you can use on Twitter and Instagram. Hashtags are actually harmful on Facebook (they seem out-of-place and hurt engagement), but work well on Instagram and Twitter. If the opportunity presents itself, come up with a clever or unique hashtag for your campaign. (this might be a good way to increase your supporter engagement, ie help me come up with our campaign #hashtag!)

In addition to your campaign hashtag, you should also include topical hashtags on your Twitter or Instagram posts and tag relevant individuals or organizations. This is key and often overlooked! By doing so, it ensures that more people will see your post and increases the likelihood that your post is shared. Do some research and determine what are the most popular hashtags for key issues and organizations in your campaign. 

There is no one perfect organic Facebook campaign strategy or way to run your Facebook page. Just like many social media tools, Facebook is constantly evolving, and every cycle we see candidates come up with new ways to engage their audience and elevate their online presence. As political media evolves, we are focusing on implementing new strategies and tactics. If your political project needs compelling media with innovative strategies – give us a call at 206- 423- 0120 or send us an email at connect@wordpress-645297-2103551.cloudwaysapps.com and let’s figure out how CN4 can partner with you and help you win.