Presidential Campaign Politics and Facebook
Let me start by saying that I know I have readers from the left, readers from the right and readers in the middle when it comes to politics. But, before you go further with this week’s blog, take off that political hat and read this from a straight up marketing and fundraising perspective.
I’ll be the first to trumpet at any moment about the power of social media. I speak about it–I write about and I have a portable soap box ready to go at all times. But, when Eleventy was hired some months ago to run the digital acquisition business for a 2016 presidential campaign, even I was shocked about the power of Facebook. It seems that overnight, this person went from being a lesser known candidate to someone who, as of today, has more Facebook likes than Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker combined. That’s right—Ben Carson has 1.75 million Facebook likes.
Personally, I’m amazed at the power of Facebook for this candidate. No matter what any of our political preferences are–when something works, boy, it works. This is especially impressive because there is a lot of competition for those 18 minutes that represent the average Facebook visit. The majority of people use Facebook to keep up with what their friends and family are doing–so whether you are a presidential candidate, a nonprofit or a widget maker–the power is in the ability to leverage those personal networks and motivate people to share posts as often as possible.
Here are the highlights of the Ben Carson Facebook marketing strategy:
- The overarching Carson brand and message platform (across all channels) is focused on transparency and creating change for the country. Therefore, the Facebook strategy has been used to reinforce that brand by having posts that are speaking to the average American and are very specific to what Carson’s key areas of interest are and his point of view.
- For the most part, Carson’s perspective is one that is less about politics and more about the serious issues facing the country. Therefore, the Facebook messaging being written is not comical or gimmicky. Some might even say there is none of the typical political mud-slinging and message trickery in the posts.
- While he has more than 1.7 million likes and this success metric is undeniable, we all know with Facebook (and other social media channels) that a like doesn’t equal real support or engagement. It is certainly a part of the formula for success, but, like most campaigns, the goal is to create engagement. Specifically, the Carson Facebook strategy is focused on getting people to comment and, of course, the top prize is to have followers share the marketing posts. Many of the Carson Facebook posts have reached between 1.5 and 2 million engagements. This tells the strategy team that the voice of the posts is resonating with this audience and they are excited to share it with their networks.
- While I just indicated that the number of likes/followers is not the premier goal, the size of the following can create a rapid growth outcome when an urgent issue arises. In just eight days, posting to the Facebook community around a single urgent issue resulted in 200,000 new supporters and over 400,000 website visits. Why does this matter? That alone generated enough revenue to pay for the entire Facebook strategy to-date.
- But, it’s not just about money. The Facebook community is also primed for driving petition signers as well. Over 200,000 petition signers were created from the Carson Facebook community and those constituents quickly converted to become donors within their initial interactions.
- Is there more? Yes! The Facebook strategy has focused on building on the brand and voice, and carries it through to the paid ads. Eleventy is utilizing the full suite of advertising tools that Facebook has to offer–most importantly, the audience-targeting tools.
- Of course, the power of analytics is in full play with the strategy. Analytics are being used on both offline and online supporters to profile these people against the general public. This allows the team to build look-alike audiences that exist in the Facebook environment. Essentially, the targeting is focused on people who look and feel like current Carson supporters.
- And, there’s more. Facebook allows marketers to use geographic location, interests and other audience toolsets to hone in on target markets. This ensures ads speak to a relevant audience and often results in double digit click-through rates to our website. What does all this mean? Does it really matter? It sure does. Not only is this Facebook marketing strategy creating a rapidly growing base of supporters–it is priming the giant fundraising engine. These leads are converting at above-average levels to take actions such as signing petitions, ordering bumper stickers, ordering hats, sending in photos and donating to the campaign.
Not convinced about the power of a strategic Facebook campaign that uses all the tools? Well, metrics are metrics, folks–but sometimes it’s the unsolicited compliments that make a big impact–especially when they are coming from the actual Facebook political team.
According to their team, the Carson’s Facebook campaign has a “net cost to acquire a new supporter that is heads and shoulders above our peers in efficiency.” And, by the way, there have been absolutely zero Facebook likes that were purchased as a part of this strategy. Yes, many politicians (and other marketers) purchase likes but, again, this candidate is about transparency and reality so for this campaign—these supporters are real supporters and not manufactured.
I have always known Facebook was powerful, but even I have been opened up to a new level of marketing success. No matter what happens in this political campaign when it comes time for voting, let’s face it—good marketing is good marketing and something we can all learn from.
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.