Facebook as an election tool

A recent presentation to politicos at an Ottawa conference reveals just how important Facebook will become in the fight for public support and your vote in the up-coming federal election campaign.

At the Manning Center Networking Conference Facebook session, politicos were instructed on how to best use the Facebook platform in the coming months. Many MPs already strategically use Facebook, but Canadians can likely expect all Parties and candidates to be using this platform to swing and/or re-enforce their support.

Facebook already is a strategy tool being wielded to win hearts and votes south of the border. In a recent Washington Post article, “How Facebook plans to become one of the most powerful tools in politics”, the power and attractiveness of this social media platform is identified.

     Political campaigns are obsessed with two things: Telling every possible voter exactly what they want to hear in order to get them to the polls and cast the “right” vote, and telling them that message for as close to zero dollars as possible.

     It’s not a surprise, then, that Facebook has focused its social-Sauron eye on the world of politics. Already a focal point of political activity (of varying quality), the site has shifted its toolset to let campaigns target extremely specific audiences with very specific messages, for prices somewhat north of zero dollars. The end goal for the company seems clear: Replace, as much as possible, expensive, blanketed television advertising with much more immediate, much more specific ads appearing in users’ feeds — and then cash a whole lot of checks.


Here are some key points from the Manning Center Network Conference session, “How Facebook can help power your campaigns” with Facebook strategists Kevin Chan and Kaite Harbath.

  • FB recommends candidates use pages rather than profiles.
  • Choose a lasting page name & URL (not campaign, office or year specific).
  • Use FB Pages as a source not a destination.
  • Understand how to use Page Insights and develop informed content and ads with information gleaned from it.
  • Creativity and authenticity are rewarded. Keep content succinct, timely and use visuals.
  • FB says “post engaging content.” Short, pithy, interesting. 15 seconds is the sweet spot.
  • Use video – but keep it short. Remember the videos are watched on mobile devices – so short, to the point – and no need for high end production. Raw footage is okay.
  • Behind the scenes videos do well, particularly from candidate POV.
  • Post updates from political and personal life. Bring people along on the campaign trail.
  • Drive event sign-ups. Highlight policy.
  • Make your content social. Tag people. (“It used to be location, location, location. Now it’s people, people, people.”)
  • Build a community. Host live Q&A sessions. Regular engagement creates new advocates on scale.
  • FB recommends regular Q&A sessions with candidates.
  • FB is becoming a platform for breaking news.
  • Most politician advertise in the FB news feed.
  • Build a Page fan base to connect with virtually 100% of voters through a friend (network of networks)

So, as you enjoy your news feed in the coming months, take note of the political messaging that is increasingly creeping into your FB experience.



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