Facebook continues to be the most used and popular social media platform, as the vast majority of internet users are on the site and use it regularly. All internet users, on average, spend at least 30 minutes a day on Facebook.
70% of American adults, in all age groups, use Facebook, though it’s falling out of favor with Gen Z, or more commonly known as Zoomers, young adults aged 18 to 24. In a recent survey, seven percent of Zoomers stated they planned to leave the site in 2023, with 25% saying they plan to decrease their time on the platform.
Other generations, though, are seeming to not let go of the site. A third of Facebook users are over the age of 45. And lately Millennials (ages 25-35, approximately) are becoming the biggest users, increasing to 27%. And according to a 2022 market report survey, it’s the favorite platform for the 35-44 crowd.
When broken down by gender, there seems to be a statistically equal split between men and women (Facebook has not kept much record on nonbinary identifying people). Within some age ranges and groups, men may overrepresent women; for instance, in a recent survey, men 25-35 years old reported Facebook as their favorite platform, while women reported Instagram as their favorite.
In terms of socioeconomic background, 73% of college-educated Internet users, and 70% of people earning more than $75k a year, are on Facebook regularly.
Voting is closely correlated with age, education and income; thus Facebook is still a recommended platform to talk to voters.
Campaigns can be certain they will reach all types of persuasive audiences, and thus should be mindful of their messaging around issues persuasive audiences are concerned about and what they’re prioritizing in the election year. Another way of thinking about Facebook’s wide access to audiences is looking at Facebook’s utility as an extra communications touchpoint. The messaging that appears on mail pieces and tv and digital ads also apply to Facebook, just in a more distilled form.
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:
- 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.
- Creating a buzz about your campaign. An active Facebook page will keep people talking about your campaign- which is a good thing!
- 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.
- Drive attendance to your events.
- 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:
- Will you be writing mostly standard posts, posting pre-recorded videos or using advanced features such as Facebook Live?
- 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
- 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
To get more engagement with your posts, and therefore increase the likelihood of them appearing on people’s feeds, it’s highly recommended to include photos or videos in text/status posts.
Mixed media posts i.e., text posts with photo(s) attached or video, are by far the most effective posts in garnering engagement and interactions. This is becoming increasingly so as Meta apps become more integrated, and the rise of TikTok has social media platforms prioritizing and encouraging more videos and photos to compete.
The average engagement rate for Facebook posts is .07%. Recent surveys have found:
- Photo posts get 0.12%
- Status posts: 0.11%
- Video posts: 0.08%
- Link posts: 0.04%
So, to leverage maximum engagement, including mixed media in posts is best.
Remember- Facebook is a tool to push your message out and communicate with voters. You always want to talk with voters- not talk at. Campaigning is all about meeting people where they are- literally and in regards to what they are interested in. Here are some strategies to help you engage with voters 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.
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.
Messenger has become the go-to communication tool for consumers reaching out to businesses, groups, and other services to the public. In other words, people contact groups through Facebook rather than calling them or emailing through the group’s website. It’s safe to assume voters, and thus potential supporters, may also use Facebook to reach out to your campaign. These messages could be requesting more information about your policy stance, to volunteer, request a yard sign, ask for an appearance by the candidate, or to schedule an endorsement interview. Be sure that it is someone’s designated job to check Messenger and respond quickly to inquiries.
Sometimes, the opposition will pose as voters and try to draw the candidate out into taking a controversial opinion on Messenger. 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.
Post campaign updates and responses to local news
Facebook is the main social media site for Americans seeking news, with 31% of Americans stating they get news from Facebook. Your campaign can capitalize on this by posting campaign updates to keep people informed on your campaign, as well as posting and commenting on local news.
Here are our tips, if you have the resources to develop your social media presence beyond Facebook.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s figure out how CN4 can partner with you and help you win.