National Public Radio (NPR) recently aired a report on Morning Edition about the increasing usage and importance of Facebook advertising to political campaigns. Eleventy president Ken Dawson, who serves as Chief Marketing Officer at Ben Carson for President, was prominently featured in the story.
Supported by insights from Ken and other experts in the field, the NPR report explores some of the key reasons Facebook advertising has become so valuable to presidential campaigns—and for political and nonprofit fundraising in general. In today’s post, we’ll share three effective options for targeting your own Facebook ads discussed in the story.
Listen to Ken on NPR Morning Edition:
Facebook Drives Carson Presidential Campaign Communication
The NPR report (also published in an expanded article version here) looks at the emergence of Facebook advertising as a vital tool in political campaign fundraising and engagement. At the forefront of this movement is the Ben Carson campaign, which has found great success by honing in on the social network as a key marketing tool.
“This is our hub of communication,” Ken is quoted saying in the article. “We really see it as the heart of our campaign.”
The Carson Campaign Facebook page currently has more than 4.5 million followers—more than both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Along with general interest in Ben and frequent updates on the page, a key driver in the campaign’s Facebook presence has been targeted ads.
NPR reports, “In mid-October, the campaign was juggling 240 different advertisements. Nearly every single one was targeted to a different subset of voters.” The enhanced targeting ability of Facebook ads enables organizations to speak directly and personally to very specific audiences—something you just can’t do with other mediums like TV.
Three Highly Effective Ways to Target Your Facebook Ads
If you’ve never used Facebook advertising before, or you haven’t for a few years, it provides some really advanced targeting capabilities. Here’s a trio of the best ways to target your ads:
1. Load a list of people into Facebook
You can import a list with names and email addresses into Facebook to see if they are active on the site. This gives you a great way to connect with people on a different channel who have already shown some level of support, making sure they are hearing your message and providing specific calls to action based on previous behaviors.
For example: Your ad could ask people to make a donation for a specific purpose, reach out to friends on behalf of the organization, or, in the case of political campaign, head to the polls. You can use Facebook to set up how many ads you want to serve people and how often you want them to show up.
2. Use your list to find similar audiences
Once you import a list, Facebook can also help you identify users who “look” similar to those individuals (that is, share specific traits). This can help you identify and target people more likely to be interested in your organization, cause or campaign.
Erik Hawkins, who runs Facebook’s political sales, says in the NPR article: “So if you have a custom audience of, let’s say, your most active donors, maybe you want to talk to a lot of people who are very similar to them. And we can enable you to do that.”
One important note: While Facebook will help you reach these people through advertising, they do not provide specific names or any other identifying information.
3. Target ads based on what people share
Along with targeting people by valuable attributes like location, age, gender and occupation, Facebook ads enable you to hone in on people who have shown interest in related topics. This specificity increases the likelihood you are reaching someone who has an interest in what you have to say… and the chances they will take action.
In the NPR report, Ken provides the example that if you wanted to target people based on the topic of religious liberties you could start with conservatives, then drill down by occupation to pastors or people who are affiliated with churches or bible groups. You could even target your ads based on information people have shared or pages they have liked.
Putting Your Audience Under the Microscope for Greater Impact
Specificity is the name of the game with Facebook ads. As the shift continues from mass marketing to more and more personalized marketing messages, Facebook and its nearly 1.5 billion active monthly users offers organizations a great way to look under the microscope, reach specific audiences with specific messages, and create actionable connections.