Everyone knows that Facebook is important. It’s the primary place for people to connect, get news, and learn about local politicians and policies that affect their community. Americans spend an average of at least an hour a day on the site — meaning that they look at more than 250 stories every single day!
To grow your voter base, build energy around your campaign, and ultimately win on election day, it’s critical to make sure that for as many voters as possible, one of those stories is yours. But with limited time, resources, and staff, it can be hard for candidates, especially down ballot, to know where to begin. In fact, 84% of political candidates post to their Facebook pages less than once a day, and 55% post less than once a week.
That’s where we come in.
ActionSprout is a smart story network. Our feed of fresh, curated, searchable content makes scheduling engaging posts that will expand and energize your digital following fast and effective. Here are a few simple ways to use ActionSprout to maximize your Facebook footprint and grow your voter base.
Boost your visibility with daily posting
When you post a story to your page, Facebook doesn’t automatically place that post in your followers’ feeds — it chooses only the content its algorithm considers the “best.” Data from your page plays a significant factor in that calculation, and a big part of that is the frequency of your posting. Best practices show that to have the greatest chance of any one of your posts actually making it into your followers’ feeds, your campaign needs to post at least one story to your Facebook page each day.
This might sound daunting, but the good news is that our users’ top-performing posts are almost always stories curated from other sources. This means you don’t need to create an original post every day — you just need to find relevant stories to share and add a bit of context to, based on your particular platform, issues, and positions. And with ActionSprout, finding high-quality, relevant content is fast and easy.
Go into the stories area of your ActionSprout account and make sure you’re subscribed to all topics that relate to your platform. We currently curate content on over 300 topics — and if an issue you need isn’t there, just contact us at email@example.com, and we’ll work to add it.
Your personalized feed will include all content related to your selected topics, so you can quickly scan to find new stories that your community will care about. And you don’t need to do this every day: In just one sitting, our scheduling tool lets you program content to roll out across the week. The program will automatically suggest the next best day and time to post a story — you just need to add the contextual message and hit schedule.
All content in the feed is curated, but for the highest-profile topics, such as climate, education, and healthcare, our story experts and partners give daily recommendations on stories that we think are the best of the best — and exactly how to get the most mileage from them. For instance, a recommended story on teacher salaries might come with information specifying that it generated exceptionally high numbers of comments when posted by candidates in the Midwest with an affordable-childcare platform.
When you post a steady stream of quality content, you can build a virtuous cycle of growth: As you post consistently and garner engagements, Facebook’s algorithm will display your posts more frequently and more prominently — leading to new followers and even more engagement!
Cheap, easy, and effective: Facebook ads
Facebook ads are one of the most inexpensive ways to reach new supporters. These ads let you pay to place a post of your choosing in the news feeds of a group of people you’re interested in reaching — and you can define this group very specifically, based on things like demographic information, precise geographic location, political leaning, and interests. The exact pricing varies, but it’s typically very cost effective: For example, it would not be uncommon to put your story in 6,000 people’s newsfeeds with a spend of just $20.
But while they’re very cheap and effective, Facebook ads can be tricky to run and confusing to manage. That’s why we built an intuitive integration of this valuable tool into the ActionSprout interface.
To use Facebook ads through ActionSprout, first go into your Facebook ad account and set up a few saved audiences. These should describe different segments of potential supporters you’d like to reach, defined by the specific geographic region where they live and the interests that define them best. We recommend breaking your supporters down into at least three different saved audiences, as this will help you learn more about those segments and promote the right types of stories to each of them.
Once you have a few saved audiences, you’re ready to jump in. Go to the Timeline section of your ActionSprout account and find a recent post that has gotten some good organic engagement. Hit the promote button below the story and choose a few saved audiences to test the story with. If you’re just getting started, we recommend that you select at least three audiences, run the ad for three days, and choose $3 as your daily budget for each audience.
As your ad runs, keep an eye on the data it generates. By thinking about which audience performed better in areas like engagements, page follows, and shares, you’ll get a better idea of which voters are open to your message, and what kind of stories are most energizing to them. With a good story targeted at a receptive audience, you should see growth in your following — which means more people will see your messages, share your ideas, and ultimately turn out to vote!
It’s also a great idea for candidates to set up saved audiences for each neighborhood they plan on canvassing. If you start putting a bit of ad spend toward those groups about two weeks before your teams will be visiting, people will be aware of your candidacy and ready to talk about your issues when you show up at their door.
NOTE: Since your ads are political, make sure you get approved to run those ads, and check the political content checkbox when you’re creating your ad.
Get voters off the fence with invitations
As your posts reach new voters through ads or organic spread, you’ll find that many people who react to your stories haven’t yet liked your Facebook page. These people have already demonstrated their interest in what you’re doing, but they need an extra nudge to get fully on board. So don’t be shy — send them an invitation! The payoffs are impressive: We’ve found that about 70% of the people you invite will end up becoming fans of your page. If you’re actively promoting posts to new people, this opportunity is too big to miss.
To send these invitations, hit the Send Invites button at the bottom of a recent post in your ActionSprout Timeline. You’ll get a list of the people who reacted, with a button next to each name that says either “Liked” (if they already follow your page) or “Invite” (if they don’t yet follow you). The icon at the bottom right of the user’s photo indicates what the individual user’s reactions was (like, love, angry, dislike, etc.). Just hit “Invite” for all users who reacted in a constructive way, and watch your following grow!
Convert your Facebook following into email lists
You can build a lot of energy with your Facebook following, but at a certain point, you’ll want to convert that following into an email list that can be used for direct communication, especially for donation appeals and get-out-the-vote efforts.
That’s where ActionSprout’s Social Actions come into play. They let you create and share petitions, polls, and even donation requests, all of which are precisely optimized for Facebook. This means that people can complete them with a single click and without leaving Facebook’s platform. This frictionless process leads to an average conversion rate of about 30% of the people who click through to view your action — and some candidates consistently get over 60% conversion rates.
The names and email addresses of everyone who completes an action can then be exported as a contact list, and even synced in real time with many CRM and email systems. This means that these people are automatically on your contact list and ready to receive your next email. Since this group has already proved its willingness to engage by participating in the Social Action, they should prove valuable, active members of your direct communication cohort.
Connecting through conversation
Comments are incredibly important in changing people's perceptions and deepening their connection to a candidate — and comments also boost your post’s ranking in Facebook’s algorithm. The more people comment on your posts, the more widely those stories will be seen.
There are three essential things you should do every day to foster healthy conversation on your Facebook posts. We know that many candidates and their staff are constantly on the go, so we recommend using the Facebook Pages Manager mobile app to keep up with the following tasks.
We all know that online comment sections can get ugly fast — so the first step in creating a healthy space for productive dialogue is making sure that trolls don’t take over. This is achieved by quickly hiding comments that are toxic and prevent others from joining the conversation. This doesn’t mean you should hide every comment that disagrees with your position: Civil opposing comments can be great openings for your community to engage and persuade. But noxious, demeaning, and attacking comments will simply discourage others and end the conversation, so it’s best to hide those as efficiently as possible.
Through your Facebook page’s account, “Like” all productive comments made on your posts. Those people will receive a notification that their comment was appreciated, and they will feel more connected to your campaign and be much more likely to comment again on future posts.
Also through your page’s account, publicly reply to as many comments as you can. If people are asking questions, answer them. If people share new insights or information, thank them. When you are a present and active participant in the dialogue, you connect to voters directly and set a tone of genuine, good-faith conversation.
We’re working on making these things even easier: Soon you’ll be able to quickly manage comments directly through the ActionSprout interface and even automate some critical tasks like hiding toxic comments.
We’re here to help!
With these simple steps, you should be well on your way to building your following and converting that following into votes — but if you have questions or are looking for further information, don’t hesitate to reach out to us via chat below.