For budding and experienced politicians, Facebook provides a way to connect and engage with supporters and voters.

For some candidates, social media is a whole new world. It’s best to familiarize yourself with how Facebook and Twitter work. You can do this by creating personal accounts and building a network of friends and acquaintances. Then, when it comes time to start social accounts for your campaign, you can ask your personal connections to become your campaign’s first social media followers.

Below are some general tips to keep in mind as you build your Facebook presence.

Create a campaign Facebook Page

Any politician can create an official Facebook 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. Users who create unauthorized pages may have their Facebook accounts disabled.

Unlike a personal 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

In the About box and Settings tab, 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.

Tip: Be sure to link back to your campaign website. This is a valuable link that will help tie together your online presence for search results.

Add a cover and profile picture

ElectionFacebook lets you chose your own “cover photo” that is positioned at the top of your timeline. 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 to the left 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.

Be authentic

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. 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 the legal team of a PR firm.

Campaign Website Design

TIP: Facebook updates can include updates from your campaign website, press releases, news articles, event reminders, photographs, personal observations and more.

If you are not sure what to do as far as posting updates or what to promote, follow examples of other popular candidates.

Budget to advertise

Don’t count on ‘Likes’ to make your posts go viral or attract new followers. Facebook today is ‘pay to play’, meaning that even your followers won’t see many of your posts unless you pay to promote them.  If you want to reach others within the Facebook platform, you will need to spend money in advertising.

There are a number of different Facebook ad types, including video ads. You can target with granularity including behaviors, interests, demographics, age ranges and locations. You can run ongoing ads or promote specific posts. Facebook ads tend to be inexpensive. They cost a fraction of what other online marketing channels cost. It’s a cost-effective way to add credibility and amplify your message.

Don’t be a jerk

face-surpriseBe 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 can enhance a campaign and serve as a tool to help you communicate and spread your message.

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