Why that 19-year-old with a cell phone may be the most important person in your campaign this year.

2016 is the year campaigns will either live or die on social media. And frankly, most candidates aren’t ready for it.

To put it bluntly, if you are not already talking with your voters on social media, you’re behind. It’s really that simple. And note, we said talking with, not at. It’s a conversation.

Last year, we won the Gold for “Best Use of Facebook Advertising” and “Best Online Campaign”. We know Facebook really well, and since most of your online spending needs to go on Facebook and Instagram, we’ll use them as examples. And yes, in the world of social media, last year was a lifetime ago, but FIVE things we learned still matter.

TARGET. Talk only to voters. That sounds like common sense, but a lot of campaigns are still trying to target Facebook users using zip codes or big data modeling. That’s better than nothing but why not just select a voter list and have it matched, all for free, at Gateway to Facebook? That way you every penny you spend is talking to actual voters.

MESSAGE. The campaign strategists need to develop a message grid that they share with those composing and rolling out the ongoing social media ad campaign.

VOICE. We said it earlier, but it bears repeating: talk with your voters, not at them. The less you sound like a politician and the more you sound like a neighbor, the better that conversation is going to go. Be friendly. Don’t be afraid to take a stand but always appeal to the highest common denominator with your voters. How you speak is every bit as important as what you say.

PICTURE. You need to specifically, methodically, on purpose have people composing and curating great photos. Cell phone photos are free. Take a zillion. Have at least one person (probably a lot more) looking to frame that perfect shot that is worth a thousand words because, well, you’re not going to get a thousand words online. Every campaign has a couple of pretty good photographers, and sometimes a great photographer. It’s an art. Turn your artists loose and let them compete for the next Facebook post highlighting the candidate or event. This is soooo much better than stock photos.

CAPTION. You’ll only get a few words to make that photo even more moving and powerful. Make them count. Brainstorm your captions, always keeping in mind the message grid of the campaign. Still, don’t be scared to deviate from the script to share a poignant moment one of your people captured. It’s a social medium, so it’s ok to be social.

The one question people always ask us is “how much should I be spending on this?” How much of the budget goes to digital advertising depends upon what other media you can add to the mix, but the average this year will be 22%, with the largest chunk of that going to Facebook. The reason is simple, Facebook is the only social network where you can match the voter file, and it’s where 65% of voters are spending an average of 52 minutes a day. And, as we mentioned, we provide voter lists for free and match them to Facebook for your campaign for free, so there’s no real reason to spend money on non-voters. As for how much to spend a day, or a week, that’s a moving target, and here’s why:

Facebook is a programmatic ad platform which means the cost of placing a Facebook ad goes up or down based on real-time demand. For starters, after you get your matched list deposited in your Facebook ad account, set a budget based on a penny a voter per week. After two weeks, if the Facebook “analytics” says your “reach” is more than five, you can consider scaling back. If it’s below five, start inching it up. That’s for right now. Obviously, when the campaign heats up those numbers are going to rise. The point is that you want to be part of the conversation now, particularly when the programmatic ad costs are cheap. The last two weeks before the election, it’s going to be a lot more expensive in most districts.

Here are a few tutorials we’ve created that should answer a lot of your questions and get you started.

To sign up for your FREE account, click here.


Setting up an Account

 Building an Audience

Creating a Political Facebook Ad


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