Facebook Ads for Local Elections

Learn why Facebook matters for your election. Need personal help? Scott can help.

Our cities, states and country are better places when our city councils, legislators, mayors and governors reflect the people they serve. Diverse teams are successful teams. There is no team that needs to improve its diversity and representation than our governing bodies.

From my own experience, I learned that its tough. Without money or connections, it’s hard to get elected. Fortunately, it’s possible to find people who believe what you believe and encourage them to support your candidacy. It really only takes one tool: Facebook.

Wait, wait, wait. I know! Facebook! The tool that helped screw up our electoral system in the first place. Despite all the negative press, however, the true power of Facebook, and its additional platforms like Instagram, is at a local level. It is an asymmetric tool that empowers candidates with a powerful message to find their supporters.

“Facebook is the most important tool to connect with voters.”

For candidates in a local election, Facebook should be a top priority for sharing your message, increasing registration, activating supporters to help you win and reminding voters to take action. There are many important steps, many which I highlighted in the 22 Step Blueprint to Winning a Local Election, but the Facebook and Instagram stand out in their impact versus the cost.

Of course, for Facebook to be a tool used for good, candidates need to know how to use it. While Facebook offers their politics guide, it lacks specific tutorials and is devoid of strategy. Thus, this guide.

Over the course of the coming days weeks, I’ll be sharing everything you need to do to use Facebook effectively for a campaign, especially a local campaign such as a city council, school board, mayor or state race. You might also enjoy learning how other industries use Facebook in our video course for auto dealers as a way to setup and build strategy for your campaign.

The guide to Facebook includes:

Get Personal Help from Scott

While I’m volunteering to help candidates through Run for Something and Tech for Campaigns, I know that there are others looking to get started. If you need help with Facebook ads for your election, please contact me. I will be prioritizing requests from women, candidates of color and first-time candidates.

If you benefited from this article, send a few bucks to some of the candidates I’ve trained: Shirley Erstad, Steven Buccini, Tara Ward


Why Facebook Ads Matter for Local Elections

There are two reasons Facebook matters: attention and data.

The average American spends over 5 hours a day on their phone (!). Nearly 20% of that is spent on Facebook and Instagram. If you are looking for a place to get in front of potential voters, Facebook is the best choice. Facebook has our attention.

What’s more, you don’t wave your hands hoping the right person happens to see you like you might at a parade or local coffee shop, Instead you decide the specific person you want to see your ad. In other words, Facebook has our data.

What’s more, Facebook not only has access to data it collects on us, but it also adds additional data from 3rd party providers (like Equifax and Oracle) and enables candidates to upload their own data to use for targeting. Especially powerful is uploading past voter rolls so you can find specific households who will support your candidacy.

As I explained in the Blueprint:

Lists of past voters can be obtained from the city government. I had no idea about these lists until late in the campaign. They are incredibly helpful because they tell you who votes, what party they are affiliated with, and where they live.

As you think about promoting your campaign (see step 7), knowing exactly who to talk to will help you focus your efforts on the people who matter most.

In my hometown, it cost $50 to purchase a past voter roll. I purchased the previous three years of city-only voters. I figured these people would be the most likely to vote again.

I then took a second (important) step to make this information actionable. Sure, a spreadsheet of names and addresses can be used for a lot of fun campaigns (like Facebook ads, mailers, and door-knocking), but if you can see which house to visit, you can more easily get other supporters to help you get the vote out.

To do this, I used BatchGeo and created this beautiful map of Brookings voters (feel free to steal and use!):

A successful campaign will use Facebook to get attention from supporters and citizens that are most likely to vote for them.

Side tangent: This has potentially negative consequences by further splintering the electorate into very specific interest groups, but the realist in me says if you want to succeed you need to do it. Feel free to tweet me and tell me your thoughts!

“The average American spends nearly an hour a day on Facebook and Instagram.”

Getting Started with Facebook

While most campaigns have a Facebook page and know how to post an update, the greatest value from Facebook and Instagram will be from ads.

To effectively run ads, you want to make sure you have everything setup correctly. New requirements from Facebook means this is now required in order to run political ads.

To get started building your Facebook ad foundation, click to the next post in the series on setting up Facebook.

If you are already setup, jump ahead to learn more on integrating Facebook with your campaign or strategy you should use on Facebook (both coming soon).

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