December 6, 2018
Another election has come and gone, but there’s no time like the present to prepare for the next one. Facebook is still somewhat foreign territory for many politicians who are unfamiliar with how the platform works and what is allowed. However, it’s a very useful tool for reaching a lot of voters in creative ways.
The Government and Politics on Facebook group shared a series of live videos that offered useful advice to candidates on how to run successful Facebook campaigns for the midterm elections. This article shares the tips that the Facebook team shared in the last video of the series so you can jumpstart your campaign for the 2020 US election.
Use Candidate Videos
For midterm elections, Facebook released a new feature that helps you reach your constituents. You can create 20-second candidate videos that share your message and explain your political views. Anyone from governor to city council candidates, excluding assessor and judicial races, can upload candidate videos. Facebook provides appropriate, election-relevant questions you should answer.
To upload a candidate video, simply navigate to your Facebook page and go to Publishing Tools. Select Political Content, then upload your video. When you publish a candidate video, you can view it under the “Broadcasts” tab if you’re a page admin. Your audience will see the video in their News Feeds.
Candidates can create and upload videos in the days leading up to the election. If both candidates in a race upload videos, users will see them side by side.
If you’re unsure how to make a candidate video, you can find the Video Creation Tool Kit in Ads Manager. You need a few different images, either of yourself or your cause. You can then add text overlay. The tool kit allows you to create a video using one of three template options for mobile-optimized videos.
Optimize Your Video for Mobile
You want to optimize your video for mobile because most users look at their social media content on mobile devices. Video that is appropriately optimized for mobile screens has the following characteristics:
- Square or vertical format. This ensures that the video takes up as much space as possible in someone’s mobile News Feed. It helps to film content vertically before uploading it.
- Text overlay. Make sure the video still makes sense if someone watches it without sound.
- Front-loaded content. The main point or message of your video should be clear within the first few seconds.
- 15 seconds in length. Videos that are 15 seconds or less are ideal for users’ mobile lifestyles.
Optimize Your Ad Delivery
Because Facebook and Instagram are competitive spaces for advertising, getting your political ads out there can be challenging. There are three key ways to optimize your ad delivery:
- Broaden your audience. Make your audience as large as possible to reach more people.
- Look at your bid cap. Having a high bid cap helps with delivery, so consider increasing it. Facebook uses an auction-based system for buying ads. A cap tells the system the highest amount you’re willing to pay for your campaign’s objective. For political and issue ads leading up to an election, it is better to manually, rather than automatically, set a bid cap because it tells Facebook’s system exactly how important it is to get your ads out there.
- Open up your placements. Use ad placements for Facebook News Feed, Instagram feed, and Instagram Stories to reach more users.
You can pay for ads either through bidding, as previously mentioned, or reach and frequency. Reach and frequency is an option if you have at least 200,000 people in your audience. It allows you to lock in the price you pay. In contrast, with bidding, you don’t know exactly how much you will end up paying. You are bidding on the action you’re optimizing for, such as video views.
Post Often as Election Day Approaches
Normally, Facebook recommends posting three to four times a day. However, in the days leading up to an election, Facebook says that you should share organic posts as many times as you want to reach more constituents.
For political and issue ads, keep in mind that they can take up to 72 hours to be approved. You don’t want to wait too long to submit your ads to publish them before election day.
Schedule Organic Content Cautiously
Although you want to schedule ads well in advance, you need to be more cautious about scheduling organic content. If you schedule a political or issue post, breaking news could make the information in your scheduled post irrelevant or even insensitive.
For candidate videos, since the feature is still relatively new, you should publish them right away after upload.
Submit Ads in Advance
Facebook requires authorization for political or issue content. Disclaimers also require approval. It takes up to 24 hours to get disclaimers approved, so you should submit or update your disclaimers a few days in advance. Disclaimers should comply with Facebook’s Community Standards. URLs, phone numbers, and acronyms are not allowed in disclaimers, so keep those out to make the approval process go quicker. You do not need authorization to publish candidate videos.
Use the Reach Objective
To reach as many constituents as possible before election day, use Facebook’s reach objective. This objective tells Facebook that reach is the most important goal to you and will keep this in mind when delivering your ad.
Once you launch a reach campaign, you can’t go back and adjust your frequency. Make sure your frequency (i.e. how many times you want your ad to appear to members of your audience) is set before launching. In the days leading up to an election, Facebook recommends setting a high frequency cap.
Use the Issues Tab
The Issues tab is a space on Facebook where you can spend more time in a written format telling constituents about your platform and stance on certain issues. If you want to elaborate on a message from your candidate video, you can do so in the Issues tab. Use it to clearly communicate to voters what you believe in.
Facebook Live allows you to communicate with constituents in real time. Live video should be varied, relevant, timely, and authentic.
To generate hype for your live broadcast, post about your plans to go live the day before or send an email blast to get the word out. You should also start the live stream at the exact time you say you will; otherwise you risk losing your audience’s interest.
Opt into All Available Placements
The more ad placements you have, the more people you will reach. Available placements include Facebook and Instagram feeds, Facebook in-stream, and Instagram Stories. When setting up your ad, specify that you want it delivered for each placement.
Vary the Type of Organic Content You Post
To keep your constituents interested, offer a variety of content in your organic posts. Mix it up between video, links, photos, and live video. The diversity will add value to the content you share.
The Time Is Now
Social media is a major player in politics these days. The more prepared you are for the next election, the better your chances at delivering valuable, high-quality content that will get voters’ attention. Start brainstorming your creative and logistical Facebook strategies now. When 2020 comes around, you’ll be happy you did.