Facebook and Politics: Your Nonprofit Should Be Watching
Typically I hate this time of year on Facebook. This is the time where I normally run out of patience for ads and friends. Something happens to people during this time in a major election cycle—I often wonder what it really is. Do people just turn off the normal filters they use every other time of the year when there aren’t heated political discussions? Do people just have a perception that everything is black and white—only one right and one wrong—nothing is gray? Do people just become angry and emotional and think it is okay to vocalize that every day?
Well, whatever causes it, it is perfect for anyone running in the election. The more people share, like, yell, promote and disagree, the more the messages your chosen politicians are reaching your social networks and beyond. So, while I really hate this time of year on Facebook, as a marketer it is truly fascinating to me.
As many of you know, my agency, Eleventy, is heavily involved in the Ben Carson for President campaign—specifically on the digital side. As a marketer, watching how Facebook has been used to grow a following from basically nothing to the largest of all the candidates is a case study in itself. And your nonprofit should be watching and following in the footsteps.
Simply put, nonprofits should be watching all of these campaigns and deploying similar strategies. Let’s face it, these candidates are trying to 1) tell their story 2) get people to align with their mission and goals 3) get people to share their thoughts with friends and family and 4) take other kinds of action, like donating and messaging support.
Sounds a lot like what every nonprofit needs from Facebook as well.
Since I’ve got an inside line into the Carson strategy, here are some key elements to consider:
- As of a few days ago, Trump had just over 4 million Facebook fans, and that is a community that has been built over years with his various TV ventures, businesses and his presidential candidacy. Hillary Clinton has less than 2 million Facebook fans built over years in politics. Ben Carson tops them all with just over 4.5 million fans—all built since the spring of this year.
- This didn’t just happen because Carson decided to run for president. It was engineered through careful Facebook advertising and targeting. This is the kind of advertising and targeting that any nonprofit can do with the right focus on the details.
There are multiple ways to think about Facebook but overall there are three goals:
- Grow your social media footprint by placing your brand in front of as many people as possible that are similar to your current Facebook community.
- Create a community of constituents who will share and comment on your topics because they are committed to your mission and want to tell their friends about their involvement.
- Ask for action within your Facebook community while regularly creating a dialog with them. Advertising cannot replace the dialog.
Targeting is Key!
If your organization has a static advertising or posting strategy on Facebook, you are missing out. Think of Facebook as just another channel in your direct marketing arsenal. The Carson campaign is using Facebook like no other presidential campaign, and it is believed this is one of the primary reasons Carson’s overall support has grown so quickly.
If you treated Facebook like all of your other acquisition and retention channels, you wouldn’t have a static strategy, right? You would be creating segments based on constituent behavior and interests, and then serving up very specific creative (visualization, videos, photos) with very specific messaging:
In October alone, the Carson campaign was juggling 240 different ads within Facebook user feeds, and each one was specifically targeted to different types of supporters within the campaign.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.