10 Common Mistakes Political Campaigns Make with Facebook Pages
1. Not promoting it
The first tip is super-straightforward, but it is so important yet so often overlooked that it is worth mentioning first. Once you create a Facebook page it needs to be promoted for voters and supporters to ever find it. Add a link to the page wherever you can online, including the campaign website, Twitter account, and Youtube video descriptions. Additionally, promote the page offline in places like on direct mail, campaign literature, TV ads, and in a candidate’s stump speeches.
Targeting Facebook ads to voters and potential supporters can also be tremendously cost-effective, so use some of the money budgeted for online ads (you are, right?) to promote the page.
2. Setting up a personal profile for a campaign
This is very basic, but I still see many campaigns get this wrong. Campaigns should be using a page, not a personal profile for a candidate.
3. Having both a personal profile and a page for a candidate
It’s the year 2012 and most people are on Facebook, including many candidates. Additionally, many candidates have been on Facebook for years now and accumulated quite a few friends. So the question often pops up on what should be done with a personal profile while a campaign is going on. It's best to simply hide the personal one through the duration of the campaign so voters don’t get confused trying to decide which place to connect.
4. Neglecting to set up a vanity Facebook url (and as soon as possible)
As soon as a page hits a certain level of “likes” (currently 25), a personalized url can be set up for the page that makes it much easier to remember. For instance, the default url for your page will look something like: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bob-Smithford/143854752232314.
A personalized Facebook url allows it to be a much simpler: http://www.facebook.com/bobsmithford.
Also, while this isn’t always possible, ideally this should be the same as your domain and usernames for every social network you are on. For example, take the Obama campaign: the domain name is barackobama.com, the Facebook url is facebook.com/barackobama, the Twitter username is @barackobama, and the Youtube username is BarackObama. Keeping a name the same across platforms makes it much easier for supporters to find the pages.
5. Promoting a page on print and TV with just an icon instead of a url
On the web you can simply click an icon and it will take you to the website -- but you can’t do this with a postcard or TV ad, so including a url is import so supporters can find a candidate’s Facebook page.
In the same way that you wouldn’t add an icon of a website and tell people to go there without mentioning the url, don't only add a Facebook icon and expect people to find it on their own. Use the personalized url set up for your page and include that on any print or video pieces the campaign puts out.
6. Never looking at Facebook Insights
I’ve often found campaigns don’t realize the wealth of information they have access to through the Insights tab on a for the Facebook page. There a wide range of data that can provide insights things like:
- the demographic makeup of those who “like” a page
- the best times for posting and the most interacted with type of posts
- the number of people reached through a post
- number of interactions with a post
- how many times a Facebook page has been viewed
7. Not setting up a custom landing tab
Facebook allows a tab other than the wall to be designated as the first tab visitors will see that visit a Facebook page and are not yet fans. Facebook also gives us the ability to customize a tab specifically how we want it. By combining these two options, campaigns have a great opportunity to convert interested voters into supporters and supporters into donors, volunteers, and more. By default, visitors are shown the wall of a page.
As an example, take a look at how Mitt Romney's landing tab is currently set up. While there is more to it than is probably necessary, it includes valuable elements like an email signup, donation call to action, and more information for voters on why Romney should be President.
Another example is the signup shown on Elizabeth Warren's Facebook page:
8. Auto-posting tweets to Facebook
Facebook and Twitter may both be social networks, but both are different from each other in how best to use them. Many campaigns are tempted to autopost tweets from a campaign Twitter account to a Facebook page (or vice versa), but doing doing so removes the ability to customize messaging for the platform.
There many reasons not to do this, but here are a few:
- Facebook allows more characters than Twitter, so it makes sense to take advantage of that and use when necessary
- Facebook gives users the ability to attach links, videos, and picture with a status update. This is lost when autoposting
- It looks lazy to voters
- There's a good chance a campaign will not notice and consequently not respond to any comments people may leave on the Facebook update
- It's much more likely that you will inadvertently barrage users with too many status updates because Twitter is set up for more frequent updates than Facebook
9. Using the Facebook page to dump press releases and official statements
Keep the press releases and official statements to the reporters and customize your message with a more personal feel for people on Facebook. Press releases are boring, so resist the urge to directly post these to a page. If you do, don't expect fans to actually want to read what is posted. Instead post pictures, videos, and shorter messages that people will actually look at.
10. Adding the position sought to the candidate’s Facebook page title
This is something I know other people disagree with, but I strongly believe that the title for a Facebook page should only be the candidate’s name and nothing more. For example, use “Frank Miller” instead of “Frank Miller for Springfield City Council” because once Frank Miller gets elected, he will want to keep using the Facebook page but the “for Springfield City Council” will no longer be correct. Alternatively, if Frank loses and runs for mayor in two years, the previous page will no longer be able to be used and the campaign will have to start from scratch again.
Facebook doesn’t allow changing a page title if there are over 100 likes, and it’s an awful feeling when you realize the page you worked hard to build to hundreds or thousands of fans is no longer able to be used because the title is incorrect. Keep it simple and stick with solely the candidate’s name -- in the long run you will be glad.