Facebook’s Permanent Place in Politics

By Vincent Harris

141, 544. That is the current number of Facebook supporters of Massachusetts Senator-elect Scott Brown. What was a perceived advantage online for Democrats across the Country has vanished as Republicans begin to “get” the need to embrace social media as a powerful tool to raise name ID and mobilize supporters. The campaigns of Scott Brown and Bob McDonnell prove that Facebook is the best, and only real necessary tool (although one could argue Twitter) that every campaign should embrace online.

Facebook is free. I’ve seen campaigns and organizations across the country spend thousands of dollars building custom social-media platforms, or waste money paying a design artist to skin their Ning site (http://www.ning.com) to reflect their website’s look and feel. These costs are unnecessary. While Facebook may not be the shiniest coin, its functionality, and organic user base make its usage far more beneficial than spending time and money having to cultivate support on a unique platform.

A study in December of 2009 showed that 77% of Facebook fan pages have less than 1,000 fans. The best way to break through the initial 1,000 barrier is a two-fold strategy: e-mail, and micro-targeted ads. By sending out a social-media centered e-mail, campaigns can convert their e-mail subscribers into Facebook supporters. Regarding Facebook ads: they are arguably better and more effective than any other online advertising medium because ads are targeted to self-identified supporters of specific keywords.

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