Following the positive feedback from our post on political Twitter tips, we present Facebook tips for political candidates.
Facebook has grown to become the largest social media site ever – so large that we’re not even going to date this post by listing the number of current users. For budding and experienced politicians, Facebook provides a way to directly connect and engage with voters. Because nothing really goes away on the web, the things you or your friends have posted about you can come back to haunt you.
So let’s leave any potentially sordid past behind and start fresh!
Create a Campaign Facebook Page
Any politician can create an official Facebook Page. (You’ll want to create an Official Page and not a Community Page.) Facebook only allows you to create a page if you are the candidate or you are an authorized person on that politician’s staff. Facebook will remove fake pages, and the user who created the page may have their Facebook account disabled.
Unlike your basic profile, Facebook Pages are visible to everyone on the Internet by default. Any person on Facebook can connect with your Page by ‘liking’ it. In doing this, they will receive future updates about the Page in their News Feed and be able to comment and interact on the Page.
Update Your Page Profile
Use the Info tab to provide users with information about yourself and your campaign. Fill it out with as much detail as you can, including a link to your campaign website. Upload a profile picture to appear in the upper left corner of your Page. This is typically a candidate head shot or campaign logo. Keep in mind that old profile pictures are archived and not replaced, so keep them professional. Once you have your basic Page set up, you can add additional tabs for video, discussion, photos and more.
Add a Cover And Profile Picture
Facebook lets you chose your own “cover photo” that is positioned at the top of your timeline. Facebook stipulates that these photos should not be promotional in nature and that there be little to no text on them. Your Cover photo will be the first thing a user sees, so it should really make a good impression. Change your cover on a regular basis to communicate more about your campaign.
The profile picture appears on the lower left corner of your Cover Image. You can use an existing photo that you uploaded to Facebook, or you may upload a new image. You may want to make your profile picture a candidate head shot or campaign logo.
Now that your Facebook page is set up, you are ready to start engaging voters! Facebook provides a way to let your existing friends know about your new page. In addition, you will want to promote your campaign page on your website, in your emails, with your Twitter followers, etc. As you campaign gears up, you will attract others who will want to follow your campaign.
Facebook updates can include updates from your campaign website, press releases, news articles, event reminders, photographs, personal observations and more.
Voters value authenticity from politicians who use social media. Candidates should work to engage in a conversation with readers, rather than simply broadcasting campaign updates. It is, after all, a social network. Treat it like an on-going conversation with your followers. Read the comments, respond when necessary, and take note of what your supporters (and your dissidents) are saying. The candidate should be the one who posts, and the messages should be authentic. The goal is to get people to know, like and trust you. That won’t happen if every post sounds like it was vetted by a PR firm.
If you are not sure what to do as far as posting updates or what to promote, follow examples of other popular candidates.
Don’t Be a Jerk
Be yourself. Share your opinions, your personality, and even a bit of your daily life. Consider what voters might want to know or have an interest in. Post frequently, but not so often that you appear to have nothing better to do. Try not to be overly negative or encourage negative posts from others. Smearing opponents might make you points with your supporters, but it may turn off others who are unsure about you. Most voters will never meet you in person. If you are a jerk online, they will only assume that you are a jerk in real life.
Facebook has a number of apps that you can add to your page to enhance its functionality. Even a basic page, done well, can enhance a campaign and serve as a tool to help candidates communicate and spread their message.
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