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Social Media For Political Campaigns: Ultimate Guide

Political campaigns aim to motivate people to vote for a political candidate. The more supporters you have, the more chances you have of winning an election. Many activities and conversations take place online, thus giving you a perfect opportunity to use social media for political campaigns

Social Media is a powerful tool that will help you reach more supporters who may vote for you. These may be younger audiences, people not familiar with you, or those not interested in politics.  Investing in growing your social media presence will build a conversation around your political party and set your campaign rolling. You’ll need to engage and develop a good relationship with your followers so that they’ll build trust and confidence in you.

Politicians should use social media for political campaigns because it allows them to directly convey their message to voters and influence their political stand. Facebook and Instagram are the most common platforms for political advertising. Twitter prohibits the use of political ads, but you can use organic content to build a higher voter outreach. 

Facebook Ads For Political Campaigns 

Facebook is considered the king of social media. With roughly 2.89 billion monthly active users, it is the biggest social media platform for political campaigns. It has become a way of life for many people, and if you check, the first thing people do when they wake up in the morning is to check their Facebook. Out of all the social media platforms, people spend hours a day scrolling through their Facebook feeds. This makes it the most powerful share tool responsible for eliciting more contributions to political campaigns than any other social networking tool.

What Counts As A Political Ad on Facebook?

  •  Ads that talk about election and political campaigns. 
  • Ads made by a political party or a candidate running for a political seat in the public office.
  • Ads that relate to any legislative issue of public importance 

 How To Get Authorized To Run Political Ads On Facebook

Before you run Ads on Facebook, you need to get Facebook’s authorization. Here are the steps to get your authorization.

  • Confirm your identity with Facebook. Here Facebook will send you a code via email. You will set up two-factor authentication to secure your account and prevent third parties from accessing confidential information. They will need your Identity Card.
  • Link your ad accounts in Business Manager to enable the “Paid For By” feature. 
  • Edit disclaimers. Disclaimer statements protect your brand against legal liability 
  • Review and submit the changes. 

It may take 7-10 days to receive your verification card after requesting it. 

Why Use Facebook Ads?

  • Facebook Ads are likely to reach more people who may become potential supporters and increase your brand awareness. 
  • It helps target voters by using demographics such as voter locations, interests, and age. Facebook also offers retargeting, a move that targets users who had previously visited your website.
  • The ads are easy to set up. Facebook takes you through steps to set your ads, define your audience, and set your budget and timeframe.
  • Facebook provides valuable analytics that can be used to measure the effectiveness of the ad. In addition to receiving feedback on impressions, reach, and frequency, you also receive information about likes, shares, comments, page likes, and click-through rates. Click through rates also referred as CTR is the percentage of impressions that resulted in a click.
  • Facebook allows you to create video ads that grab more attention from the audience. 
  • Facebook ads are more affordable. The higher your budget, the more ads you can run; hence more voters you will reach. 

Types Of Facebook Ads 

1. Image Ads

Are the most common type of ads. They have photos, a call to action, and a link to your website. Effective image ads have high-quality images or illustrations. They are more creative and appealing.

2. Video Ads

They are more popular on Facebook and drive for a higher engagement. Video ads can run in news feeds or appear as in-stream ads in longer Facebook videos. For better delivery, use short, exciting videos that will get your audience engaged.

3. Messenger Ads

Facebook Messenger ads appear in the main tab of Facebook Messenger, where people spend time chatting with friends. These ads give you access to 1.3 billion people who use messenger every month. Messenger ads are suitable for targeting a younger target audience who spend more time on Facebook.

4. Carousel ads

Use up to ten images or videos. They let you showcase a broad range of services, each with its headline, link, or description. If you want to talk more about your political campaign, these types of ads can be effectively used to tell a story. 

5. Event Ads

These are ads that help you market your Facebook events to your supporters. You can use this type of ad to get more people to attend your political rally. You may want to target your ad to reach people living in the same city as the event. 

How To Run Facebook Ads

1. Create an account with Facebook Ads Manager

Facebook’s Ad Manager provides users with an overview of all their campaigns. It highlights an estimate of how much you are spending each day.  Key numbers like reach, frequency, and cost are readily available, making it easy to measure your results.  You need Facebook Ads Manager to run ads on your Facebook business page because you can’t run ads on your profile. 

2. Navigate Facebook’s Ad Manager 

This is like your advertising headquarters. It has functionalities that allow you to set up ad campaigns, manage and modify your budget, target specific audiences, and monitor campaign performance metrics. 

3. Choose an objective

Ads Manager will prompt you to select a campaign objective. These are the things you would want to achieve with this ad. There are 11 different objectives to choose from, giving Facebook a better idea of what you’d like so they can present you with the best-suited ad options. The options include brand awareness, reach, website traffic, engagement, conversions, lead generation, messages, and much more. Once you select your objective, give your campaign a name, and you are good to go.

4. Choose Your Audience

Define your audience for smarter ad targeting. With so much demographic and behavioural information captured by social media users across the globe, it’s easier to know which audience you want to work with for your political campaigns. This data can help you improve your Facebook marketing strategy in terms of content and insightful competitive research. Here is what to consider;

  • Location- You can target people in Nairobi and those in rural areas. For example, if you are vying for a governor’s position in Machakos County, you can include its environs. 
  • Age – You can select a range of age, maybe from 18 to 65 and over, because you want a broad audience. 
  • Gender – Because you want both men and women to vote for you, choose to show your ads to all genders. 
  • Interests – You can target people interested in politics or your related topics, such as health, education, environment, infrastructure and so on. 

In this phase of your campaign setup, you have the option of choosing a specific audience or a broad audience. But because you want to build your brand awareness, you’ll have to focus on a more general audience. Facebook’s built-in targeting is vast. It will help you customize your audience.  One of the best features offered in Facebook Ad Manager is the ability to create lookalike audiences. These are Facebook users who share similar qualities to other known groups.

5. Set Your Budget 

A budget is an amount you will spend showing people your social media political campaign ads. Setting a budget helps control the amount of money you will spend on your campaign. Facebook gives you control by allowing you to select either a daily budget or a lifetime budget. A daily budget covers the cost you’d want to spend on Ads per day and a lifetime budget is the amount of money you’ll spend on an Ad for a specific length of time. 

Facebook recommends using $20 daily on an Ad, but you can always adjust depending on your budget. This segment also has an advanced option where you can schedule your campaigns, choose whether you want to bid for your objective, clicks, or impression and whether you want standard delivery or accelerated delivery. Standard delivery will show your ad throughout the day, while accelerated delivery helps you reach an audience quickly. 

6. Create Your Ad

Because you’ve already chosen your objective, i.e., brand awareness and reach, this will make it easy to create your Ad since you know your target audience. Your objective also determines the ad format options you’ll use. You have the option of using a desktop/ mobile news feed, or a right hand column format.

These are the steps to creating your ad.

  • Create a campaign or ad set.
  • Label your ad in the name text box.
  • Select a Facebook or Instagram Account to represent your business.
  • Select an Ad format. You can choose from a single image or video, carousel or collection.
  • Select add media to upload new or previously uploaded media for the single image or video format. Select create Video to choose from several templates that use your images to create a video. 
  • Select an image to upload new media for the Carousel format, add an optional headline and description, and a website URL. Do this for each Ad in your carousel. You can remove the extra cards you don’t need. 
  • For the collection format, you’ll need to create a catalog. A catalog is a container that holds information about all the items you want to advertise or sell on Facebook or Instagram. You can then show your catalog products dynamically or choose up to four products to feature manually. 
  • Decide on your ad placement

7. Monitor Your Ad’s Performance Metrics

To use social media for political campaigns, you need to measure your success. Facebook gives you complete transparency on the Return Of Investments (ROI) of your ads. Some of the metrics to monitor are; clicks, impressions, and engagement. Clicks are the number of times someone has clicked on your Ad. Impressions are the number of times people viewed your Ad, while engagement is the interaction on your page. It might be reactions, comments, shares, and page likes.

Metrics help you measure the success of your advertising efforts. For example, what is working, what’s not, and what needs to be improved. In the Ads Manager, you will be looking at your data in four different ways. The account level. The campaign level. The Ad set level and The Ad level. At the account level, you get a high-level view of performance across all campaigns. Here, you’ll find data that gives you a birds-eye view. The campaign, Ad Set or Ad Level, gives you specific analysis by checking the performance of campaigns and even down to individual ads. This way, you can figure out which type of content resonates best with your audience. 

Best Practices For Facebook Ads 

  • Use authentic, relevant, and up to date content that speaks to your target audience. 
  • Fact check your information before publishing 
  • Include a Call To Action in your content 
  • Have beautiful creative designs that are appealing to the eye 
  • Run ads across multiple apps. They can appear on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Audience Network. On Facebook 
  • Put Your Message in motion with Video. 
  • Speak to human emotions. 
  • Have quality content in terms of images and videos. 
  • Post consistently and at the right times. 
  • Boost your Ads

Instagram Ads For Political Campaigns 

Instagram Is an excellent social media for political campaigns. Like Facebook, politicians can use Instagram Ads to influence people’s political stand and solidify support among their target audience. Instagram has roughly one billion users, and because of the numbers, most conversations take place there. Be it political, social justice-related, or environmental matters. Politicians have to go where people are, and Instagram is where people are. 

Why Use Instagram For Political Advertising?

  • Instagram is a more visual platform. It’s a valuable social channel for image-driven campaigns. Here you can engage with your supporters in creative ways. 
  • You can get a better response rate on Instagram compared to other social media platforms. Instagram generates 4x more interactions compared to Facebook.
  • Younger people are more on Instagram than they are on any other social media platform. So if you want to reach a younger audience, Instagram is the way to go. 
  • You can engage people in your conversations by tagging them in your stories. The story feature has made Instagram snowball in its popularity. It allows your supporters see your videos within a 24-hour window. 
  • Instagram can be used to showcase the passion that drives your policies and the personality behind your politics. 
  • Instagram ads use Facebook’s advertising system, which has a powerful targeting ability. You can specify your target audience’s demographics by using location, interests, behaviours, and more. 
  • Instagram has made it easy to create ads because if your account is linked to Facebook, you can use Facebook’s Ad Manager. 
  • They have a higher potential of getting a wider reach 

How To Run Instagram Ads

You can use Facebook Manager to run ads or use the Instagram app.

Creating Instagram Ads Using Facebook Ads Manager 

Like Facebook ads, Facebook Ads Manager is the go-to place for creating, editing, and managing Instagram ads. To access your Facebook Ads Manager, click on the drop-down arrow in the upper-right corner of any Facebook page and select “Manage Ads” from the dropdown. Once you are there, click Create Ad in the upper right corner to get started.

While Facebook offers 11 objectives in Facebook’s Ad Manager, Instagram only has 8 to allow you to create ads. These are; brand awareness, reach, traffic, app installs, engagement, video views, lead generation, and conversions.

Here are the steps;

1. Choose Your Audience

For political campaigns, you want to reach people who will vote for you. It is essential to consider the following;

  • Location. You can target people in Nairobi and those in rural areas. For example, if you are vying for a governor’s position in Machakos County, you can include its environs. 
  • Age. You can select a range of age, maybe from 18 to 65 and over, because you want a broad audience. 
  • Gender. Because you want both men and women to vote for you, choose to show your ads to all genders. 
  • Interests. You can target people interested in politics or your related topics, such as health, education, environment, infrastructure and so on. 
  • Create Your Ads 

2. Create Your Ads

Choose your Facebook page and your corresponding Instagram account. Here, you can select your ad format. It might be a single image or a video, a collection, or a carousel. You’ll also choose the Call To Action Button and enter your website’s URL at this step. 

3. Choose the placement for your political ads campaign  

This is an important step if you want your political campaign ads to appear only on Instagram and not Facebook. Facebook Ads Manager tends to select both Facebook and Instagram ads by default. But if you want only Instagram select edit placements and deselect Facebook under platforms. Because we are looking to grow brand awareness and get more people to vote for you, it is advisable to publish on both platforms. 

4. Set Your Budget and Schedule 

Select how much you want to spend on your Ads and how long you want to run them. In political advertising, you can set a lifetime or a daily budget, depending on your set aside money. You can select a start and end date for your schedule to create a pattern and rhythm when your ads appear. 

How To Run Instagram Ads Within The App

You can promote a political Ad that you’ve already posted on Instagram. Choose the one with the most engagement. It is likely to reach more people, even those that are not following you. Once you’ve identified it, click promote at the bottom right of the page. You also need to ensure that your account is an Instagram business profile account. 

Types Of Political Ads To Use On Instagram

1. Photo Ads

These are the most common types of Ads on Instagram. They grab more attention and are interactive. They include a Call To Action where supporters can visit the politician’s website to learn more about their political party and policies. 

2. Video Ads

Exciting and captivating video Ads work well for political campaigns because the views can triple in a matter of minutes if the promotion is done right. 

3. Carousel Ads 

They are a combination of multiple images or videos in a single ad. These can be effective when politicians talk about various things in a single ad, like their manifesto, policies, and vision.

Best Practices For Instagram Political Ads 

  • Use high-quality images and videos for a better visual appeal. If your content is quality, people will like it more. 
  • Start your ad with a key message to keep your audience interested in your message. 
  • Design mobile ads because most people use their phones and not desktop to check stuff.
  • Frequent uploads are essential because having a dormant account will affect your social presence. 
  • Use sound to delight your audience. You can use music or either voiceover.
  • Test different types of Ad formats to see what your audience is most responsive to.
  • Have creative and unique designs. This will provide you a more incredible opportunity to showcase your political party. 
  • Have a username that is recognisable, simple and easy to find. 
  • User Instagram Hashtags 

Twitter For Political Campaigns 

Twitter is also an excellent social media for political campaigns. Even though it prohibits political ads on its platform, you can use organic content to spread your political messages. It is essential for the shaping of a political narrative. Twitter is a great platform to get more people to engage with your organization and take action on your campaigns. You can invite your followers to your website and other social media platforms. 

Most people on Twitter are entertainers, journalists, and politicians. This platform gives you a bigger chance of turning them into potential voters. It will also help you reach more people at a grassroots level and those in marginalized areas. You can also use Twitter polls to get a public opinion on anything related to your political party or campaign.

It would help if you crafted tweets that will start a conversation around your political party. Negative things get people talking, but having neutral, positive content will help you maintain a good online presence. Interact with your followers and answer their questions. You can share links to your blog posts, Youtube videos, or podcasts to increase traffic to your campaign. You will build a good relationship with them hence have the upper hand in turning them into your voters. 

Pros of Using Social Media for Political Campaigns 

  • It helps you reach millions of people while at the comfort of your home 
  • You can interact with your supporters one on one via live videos and get feedback from them.
  • Social media gives you detailed analytics that measures how effective your campaign is. These analytics give you an analysis of your demographics, which type of content to create and how to spend money more efficiently.
  • People get a lot of news from social media. Voters will stay informed and updated because of the content you share involving your political campaigns.

Cons of Using Social Media for Political Campaigns

  • You might not be able to reach people who are not active on social media. Or people in rural areas who don’t have access to smartphones and electricity.
  • Fake profiles on social media might be used to spread false, untrustworthy information about another candidate or a political party.
  • Trolls may create a page that talks about your brand negatively.  They may also leave negative comments on your page or even spread false information to sabotage your campaign. 
  • Having a big following and an excellent online presence doesn’t guarantee that you’ll win an election. 

The Importance of Influencer Marketing in Political Campaigns 

When using social media for political campaigns, it is vital to use influencers. They will help you turn their audience to your supporters hence increasing your voter outreach. It also allows them to reach a younger audience that is increasingly resistant to traditional advertising tactics. 

These influencers might be celebrities or media personalities with a massive following on social media. However, it is also essential to focus on micro-influencers with thousands or tens of thousands of followers. They have a higher engagement rate because they take time to interact with their followers. They also build close, trustworthy relationships with their followers, making it easy to sway their political stand. These influencers may talk about politicians on their social media platforms, sing songs about them or convince people to attend their political rallies. 

Sometimes these influencers are composed of everyday people active on a community level, i.e., religious leaders and small business owners. The Biden Haris Marketing campaign used nurses, teachers, essential workers, truck drivers, and dads to distribute 15,000 Instagram Stories on social media. This strategy helped them achieve an overall 305 percent higher click-through rate and a 1,600 per cent higher engagement rate on Facebook than traditional celebrity influencers.

Conclusion

Social Media for political campaigns is a game-changer in politics. It has helped shape political campaigns. People like Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, and Donald Trump won elections because they came up with social media strategies that helped them connect with people on a human level. They talked about political, social, and economic issues that people related with. This built trust in the candidates that is why it was easy for people to vote for them. If you want to have a successful campaign, build a positive social media presence, talk about issues that affect people, what you will do for them, and interact with them. The good thing about social media is that you don’t need to have big money to communicate on social media. 

Is it necessary for politicians to be active on social media?

Yes. Politicians need to connect with their supporters and give them updated content. This will help build a conversation around their brand and help them remain relevant. The moment they go underground, people will forget about them.

What are the common social media political ads in Kenya?

There are various social media ads that are run in Kenya’s political campaigns. They include;
Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, and Video Ads.

Are political Ads allowed in Kenya?

Yes. Kenyans can run political ads; however, they have to follow the guidelines and policies provided by various advertising platforms.

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