I don’t believe you can have a political campaign today without a Facebook component.
While the media landscape has become incredibly splintered, the one place most people seem to be is Facebook.
Of all the social media platforms, I believe Facebook is the one every politician should be on.
What that means exactly will vary from politician to politician. You’re going to have to make a choice if you’re going to use your Facebook profile as your primary center. Or if you’re going to create a Facebook page.
Both strategies have pros and cons. Here are some of them:
Using your personal Facebook profile for your political campaign
The benefits of this are that you probably already have friends collected here. But if you use Facebook as a personal journal of your life your friends might get tired of seeing a continual stream of political messaging during the political season. On the other hand, they very well might be supportive of your campaign. As long as I don’t over do it, I find my friends and family are pretty supportive of business things I put on Facebook. That said, most of my business stuff goes on Twitter. But that’s another story for another day.
Facebook has a feature called the “Subscribe Button.”
This is for people who might have a public persona. Political candidates would definitely fall into this category. People that subscribe to your profile can only see posts that are open to the public.
Facebook writes here, http://www.facebook.com/about/subscribe, “Allowing subscribers is a simple way to broaden your conversation on Facebook, while reserving personal updates for people you know well.”
Your close friends and family will still see all of your political messaging. But the people that subscribe to you won’t be able to see personal updates.
This is still a messy scenario, in my opinion. What if a person wants to be your friend but really they should subscribe? I’m not sure how you would easily solve that issue.
If you are a private person who likes to share personal information on Facebook, this might not be your best solution. But if you are pretty transparent person who doesn’t really care what personal information the public sees then this could be really great.
The thing I like about it most is that you stand a better chance of getting into your friends’ newsfeeds. Facebook page posts are usually buried in your fans and friends of fans feeds. In order for them to be seen you typically have to buy your way in.
If you are a state or national politician I don’t see how this strategy could feasibly work. You’re simply dealing with too many people. Using your personal Facebook profile for your political campaign, if anything, should probably be reserved for the local political candidate.
If you are a private person who doesn’t like to share details with the public (I’m not really sure why you are in politics, but whatever) or you are a state or national candidate, you are probably going to want to create a Facebook page for a public figure. You can do that here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php
Using a Facebook Public Figure Page for Your Political Campaign
As an end-user, I prefer this. A Public Figure Facebook Page lets me (your potential voter) post links and pictures to your page. I can’t do that to a personal profile. I like doing that especially if I’ve been to a campaign rally or have seen you in public.
This is great for you, incidentally, because it lets your constituents help promote you. The public becomes your marketing and PR department.
There are two downsides to Facebook Pages that I can see.
The first downside is you’re going to have to build fans. This is never particularly easy for a lesser-known person. You have to promote the hell out of your Facebook page. Put it on your website, put it on your business cards, glue it to your car.
But the best way to do it is to buy your way in. You are going to want to create Facebook ads or sponsored stories. You can learn more about all of that here: https://www.facebook.com/help/?page=175624025825871
The second downside is, for most people, I don’t believe there is a way to grow fans without a marketing budget. You simply are going to have to spend money to make it work. The bigger your budget the faster you can collect fans.
That said, Facebook pages are great in many ways. They give you stats on engagement and fans. They let you buy targeted ads in the most demographically targeted ways you can imagine. And as I said before your fans can engage with you much easier.
One of the fastest ways I’ve found to grow fans is to run a contest using Wildfire: http://www.wildfireapp.com/. You have to use a third-party app to run contests on Facebook. Wildfire lets you do that very easily. Giving away a simple T-shirt you made on Cafepress.com will gain you a surprising number of fans who want to be part of that contest. Just make your contest and then promote it with Facebook ads.
Maybe you could offer a chance to win a dinner with you and someone famous in your community. People seem to love those contests as well.
Like I said at the start, I don’t believe you can have a serious political campaign without Facebook. But how you use it will depend on your personal preferences and size of your campaign.
Take a moment to choose your strategy: Should you use your Facebook Profile? Or should you set up a Facebook Page?
Then just get out then and get busy. You will be able to meet and connect with your constituents in really powerful ways using Facebook for your political campaign.