Whether you are a Choice, Change or Challenge candidate, you need to reach people where they are. And they are online. Web-based social networks have become an important arena for politics. They are a resource for political news, information, finding like-minded issue-oriented people, and a tool for voter outreach.
Facebook is the most popular social media site in the United States. More than half (58 percent) of the entire adult population have an account; 71 percent of online adults use Facebook. This compares to 28 percent of online adults who use LinkedIn or Pinterest, 26 percent who use Instagram, and 23 percent who use Twitter.
You want to create a Facebook page for your campaign page, rather than using your personal account. Not all your Facebook friends are going to interested in your campaign. Some may be actively hostile to and rubbing their noses in it every day or so would be impolite. Not to mention, there are privacy issues, in that you want everyone to be able to see your campaign page, but you probably don’t want everyone to view the contents of your personal Facebook account.
By the way, you need an account to be able to set up a page. You could have a friend with an account set up a page for you, but we don’t recommend it. If you go that route, to be able to post content or administer the page you would need to log onto your friend’s personal account. And it might create a strain on your relationship to ask her or him to grant you full access to the account for several months! So if you don’t have an account, you should set one up, at least for the duration of your campaign.
Speaking of your personal account, now would be a good time to review your privacy settings and content. Running for office is somewhat akin to applying for a job, and ideally, you don’t want anything to be posted on Facebook that could potentially be embarrassing – or at least you want access to said embarrassing office party picture (or whatever) to be extremely limited.
So to create your campaign Facebook page:
1,Log on to your account and click on the inverted triangle (furthest choice to the right in the blue bar across the top). This invokes a pull-down; click on “Create Page.”
2. Select “Company, Organization or Institution.” From the “Choose a category” pull-down, select “Political Organization.”
3. Fill in a name for your page. Technically, the most correct name would be the name of your committee, but you have latitude to vary from that; Brian Irving for NC House 36 works, for example.
4. Provide info about your page (e.g., “Official Facebook page of the Committee to Elect Brian Irving to the North Carolina General Assembly in 2016”)…max = 155 characters.
5. If you have a website, fill in the URL.
6. You have the option of customizing the URL of your Facebook page (e.g. http://www.facebook.com/elect.brian.irving).
7. Add a profile picture, either a flattering headshot or a memorable image.
8. Add your new page to your favorites. If you do this, Facebook will make more of an effort to alert you when someone else interacts with your page.
9. Preferred page audience: you can specify interests and Facebook will prioritize showing your posts to folks who match your criteria; possible interest choices include “legalize marijuana,” “North Carolina,” “Cary, North Carolina,” “state income tax,” “sustainability,” etc.
10. Add a cover illustration or photo (cover photo, the banner at the top of your page).
11. Add contact info (e.g., phone number, snail-mail and e-mail addresses, campaign website, Twitter account, etc.).
12. Navigate to the “About” page and fill in additional information as appropriate (start date, long description, etc.).
13. Invite your Facebook friends to like your page and e-mail the URL to folks who are either not on Facebook or not Facebook friends with you
14. Your page can “like” other pages! (Click on “View Pages Feed” to do this.) Some to consider: Libertarian Party, LPNC, WakeLP and of course the other Libertarian candidates' pages.
15. Add some content to your “Timeline” page.
Content is the most important component of your campaign page. Your objective is to promote your candidacy as widely and as often as you can, and to that end, an interesting compendium of information about relevant news, issues, and events will attract attention.
Try to post at least one new item each day or two. Be sure that the content is pertinent to your campaign; e.g., if you are running for state of local office, posts about foreign policy or national issues are generally not appropriate content (although an occasional one to liven things up is ok).
And speaking of livening things up, you will (hopefully) get some comments on your posts. You can respond to a comment—or just post a comment about one of your posts yourself unilaterally—as either your page or as yourself personally. The default is to comment as your page; if you want to change that for a particular post, click on the inverted triangle that appears above the “Like-Comment-Share” line for that post.
We strongly recommended that you maintain an appropriate level of decorum in your comments. If someone posts an inappropriate comment, as an administrator of the page, you can hide it from the timeline (click on the “X” to the right of the comment). Be sure you—or someone with page admin capability—monitors your page daily to respond to any comments as appropriate, and also any messages.
For an good example of how to engender and nurture interactivity, check out Sean Haugh, Libertarian for US Senate. (Note: Sean has meticulously established an online persona over a period of years and, consistent with the character of that persona, he is occasionally confrontational with trolls. We would not recommend emulating this particular aspect of Sean’s methodology. Unless you are a social media master, it is much safer and easier to be relentlessly polite, per Nick Sarwark’s admonition to show up, be nice, win.
Finally, take a few moments to check out the administration options for your page (click on “Settings” in the upper right-hand corner). Click on “Page Roles” to add one or more of your Facebook friends to help you manage the page if you wish. Also, click on “People and Other Pages” to see a list of who has liked your page. In the event of an extremely nettlesome troll you can remove individuals from liking your page or even ban them entirely from seeing it. (You probably won’t need to do this—the LPNC has only banned three people out of some 6,000 likes, but it’s good to know the capability exists.)
Change and Challenge candidates should add “Events” to the tabs that are visible at the top of your Timeline, and be sure to create an entry for any relevant event as far in advance as possible and invite any of your Facebook friends who you expect would be interested.
To edit the configuration of the tabs, click on “More,” on far right of the tabs line, to invoke the drop-down menu and select “Manage Tabs.” Events can include candidate forums, appearances you have scheduled, virtual events of your own making, or anything else relevant to your campaign.