Facebook is about dialogue, not monologue

Almost every candidate, officeholder and campaign knows they should be on Facebook, but almost none can tell you why other than they know that pretty much every other officeholder is on social media.

That means most candidates are on Facebook with neither a clue as to what’s achievable with the medium nor with a plan to achieve it. 

It’s no wonder that so many feeds are non-productive and dull, wasting campaign time managing the page without

Building relationships with your followers on Facebook needs to be richer and more satisfying than posting pictures and asking for "likes." It takes having real conversations.

Building relationships with your followers on Facebook needs to be richer and more satisfying than posting pictures and asking for “likes.” It takes having real conversations.

accomplishing anything productive in terms of winning hearts and minds.

Don’t believe us? Look at the average candidate or officeholder Facebook feed. We looked at a ton while writing this. They’re filled with travelogue-style pictures of the candidate at various places, begs for money and the occasional link to an article. If they’re really creative they ask people to “like” their post.

They’re like the boring people from high school who “friend” you 20 years later only to have their feed remind you why you never stayed in touch in the first place.

It’s all candidate-centric and not focused on followers. It fails to engage, and does little to win hearts and minds or inspire action. That means little return for the effort made on Facebook.

Understand why people want to follow you on Facebook

Assuming you don’t know a follower personally, there are only a few reasons

someone will follow your Facebook page:

  • They support you and what you stand for and want so show their support.
  • They want to find and follow content that’s interesting to them and they believe you’ll provide it.
  • They work for your opponent/competitor and want to track what you’re saying.*

 

Is what you’re posting responsive to why people who follow you for the first two reasons are doing so?

Talk with your followers, not at them

Of course every follower expects you to talk about yourself some. That’s natural. You have every right to (and your followers have every expectation of seeing) some posts about yourself and what you need–their votes, their volunteer efforts and their money.

But that can’t be every post or even the majority of them.

No one is all that interested in following someone–even a friend or relative–who just talks about themselves all the time. It feels self-absorbed or boring to the person on the other side of the keyboard.

Some campaigns try to go to the next level by asking people to “like” certain posts. That’s a little better. But a “like” is very easy to get, relatively speaking. It’s a click, not an engagement.

So we recommend you look at a different metric to evaluate the effectiveness of your Facebook efforts.

It’s not the number of followers you have or the number of likes you receive, but the number of comments your posts routinely generate that demonstrates the effectiveness of your Facebook efforts.

Only when you have a post that’s created a level of interest for people to stop in their tracks and write a response, have you truly engaged them and connected with them.

That means engaging your audience in conversation. Asking questions. Soliciting their reactions. Asking them to take an action for you by sharing something with their friends or doing something on Facebook that is helpful.

To do that, you have to provide content worthy of sharing in conversation. If you wouldn’t bring it up to someone face-to-face, why would you waste their time with it on Facebook?

Is posting your photo of speaking at the Hooterville GOP Club going to spark a conversation? Or are you going to get more reaction by asking people their thoughts on a policy proposal you have or an ad you’re running.

Sure, there’s a small risk that some people will comment unflatteringly about you or respond in unexpected ways. That’s OK. It happens in all sorts of offline situations too, and you just roll with it. It’s manageable.

But if you approach Facebook as a conversation and not a monologue, you’ll find you derive greater value from the effort you place in it. You begin to inspire followers to action rather than have them breeze past your posts. You deepen the relationship and the bond.

That means votes and tangible support. That makes the effort worthwhile.

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* For what it’s worth, this also holds true for businesses outside of politics, but there’s a fourth reason that many follow them–deals and discounts. That doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) apply to campaigns.

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