Facebook ads are a cost-effective way to target your voters with specific messages. Not all voters will come to the door or answer their phone so Facebook ads offer another direct way to get in touch with voters.
Running Facebook ads requires solving three key problems: getting set up to run political ads on Facebook, targeting the right audience, and finally creating content to boost. In this blog post, I’ll walk you through each of these steps to create high-quality Facebook ads and I’ll share some resources from our friends at Civic Power of Change. You can watch the full recording of our training here.
How to Get Verified to Run Political Ads on Facebook
To run ads as a political candidate on Facebook, you’ll need to jump through some extra hoops. Running any ad on Facebook first requires a Facebook Page. and we recommend setting up a Facebook Business Manager account. You probably already have a Facebook Page, but you can set up a Business Manager account by following these steps. Business Manager is separate from your Facebook Page and enables you to share access to assets like your Page and ad accounts with other people and organizations. Campaigns experience frequent turnover, so it's important to make sure you can securely share access and ownership between multiple people. Facebook Business Manager also makes it easy to create a new ad account if you don’t have one already.
After you’ve set up your Facebook Page and Business Manager, you’ll need to get verified to run political ads. We have full step-by-step instructions for this process and common errors people run into here. In the Political ads verification checklist, you’ll be asked to:
- Verify your identity by turning on two-step verification, uploading a picture of your ID, and finally receiving a piece of mail with a confirmation code to confirm your address.
- Create a disclaimer by uploading documents that verify your campaign organization's information.
- Link your disclaimer to an ad account
- Claim responsibility for the ad account
Before you can link your Facebook Page to Deck, you’ll need to make sure you are set up to run political ads on Facebook, have set up your Business Manager account, and finally are an admin on both your Facebook Page and your Business Manager account. We have full step-by-step instructions for how to link your FacebookPpage to Deck here. To do so you’ll have to:
- Send a request to your Facebook Page to add Deck as an ads partner. Please only send this request once you have completed the steps above.
- Find and accept the request from deck.tools in your Facebook Business Manager
- Add Deck’s ad account number to your political disclaimer
- Add a credit card within Deck to pay for ads
After you’ve completed these steps, you can create targeted Facebook ads without leaving Deck!
Creating an Ad Universe
After you’ve gotten set up to run Facebook ads you can start running ads! Each ad should have a specific goal: are you looking to persuade likely voters, turn out your supporters, raise money, recruit volunteers, or register new voters?
Deck creates universes for each of these objectives using our scores. Turnout, for example, is a list of people that are really likely to support your campaign but are only somewhat likely to vote. Organize is a list of voters who are really likely to support you and are really likely to vote; it’s a good list to invite to an event or ask to join an email list. You can learn more about Deck’s scores here, but it's important to keep in mind that they are specific to your campaign and your district. Deck also looks at your district as a whole to create these lists, so each range of scores is custom to your district as well. You can see all of our documentation for scores here!
Launching an Ad
To launch an ad in Deck, select the Deck tab that corresponds to your objective (Persuade, Turnout, Register, Organize, or Fundraise) and then the list size that you have the budget to run. You’ll always want to run ads to audiences larger than 1,000 people to get the best results from your Facebook ad. Then select the post you want to boost. Deck recommends a budget based on the size of your audience and your objective. We’ve used data on the hundreds of campaigns that have run ads on Deck and research from our friends at the Analyst Institute to balance cost-efficacy, reach, and your selected audience when determining your recommended budget. For example, we recommend you spend less on persuasion ads because research indicates that too many persuasion ads can actually discourage voters from voting for you. You can, of course, make changes to this budget; the minimum budget is $10 (and sometimes Facebook will require a higher minimum if your ad is scheduled to run for many days).
After you’ve set a budget, you can configure the timing and objective of the ad. Deck also supports ads run in Spanish. The objectives that you have to choose from are the same as what you'd find on Facebook:
- Awareness: The awareness objective optimizes for a special metric called "estimated ad recallers," which represents the number of people whom Facebook expects to remember having seen your ad after it runs. Learn more here.
- Link Clicks: The link clicks objective attempts to maximize the number of people who click on the link attached to your post. Use this when your goal is to drive traffic to another website, e.g. for fundraising, volunteer signups, or voter registration.
- Page Likes: The Page likes objective optimizes for increasing the number of people who like your Page and, potentially, the organic reach of content that you'll post in the future.
- Post Engagement: The post engagement objective attempts to maximize the number of people who like, comment on, or share the post that you’re boosting.
- Reach: The reach objective maximizes the number of unique people who will see your ad each day.
- Video Views: The video views objective maximizes the number of "video thruplays" generated by your ad: someone watching 15+ seconds (or all) of your video. You can read more about the metric here.
Finally, you’ll click Review and then “Create ad”! Facebook will attempt to match your Deck list to Facebook profiles using name, address, birth date, email, phone number, and gender, and we have about a 60-70% match rate on average.. This ad will be reviewed briefly by Facebook and then set live for the amount of time you’ve selected.
Deck has a second integration with Facebook where you can save a Deck list as a custom ads audience within your ads manager account. You can then configure the ad within the Facebook ads manager by hand. Learn more about custom audiences here.
Segmenting your audience
You can, of course, customize Deck’s lists using our advanced filters. You can find a full guide to best practices with our filters here. Filter your Deck audiences by scores, demographics, or vote history to segment your audiences with specific messages. For example, you could target a message about senior citizens to an older audience. You can always check the demographics and location of your targets by visiting the “Understand your targets” tab when you’re creating a target audience on Deck. See our full tutorial for running Facebook ads here.
Creating Content for Ads
Civic Power of Change is an organization that matches down-ballot campaigns to volunteer marketing professionals to create top-of-the-line advertising content. They outlined the following steps for making a great campaign ad below.
Before running any ad on Facebook you’ll first need to decide what you want your ad’s viewer to do. After seeing this ad do you want voters to visit your website to learn more, make a donation, sign up for an event, or go vote!
You’ll then need to figure out how to grab people's attention when scrolling through Facebook because you have about three seconds to do so. Below we’ll go through the elements you’ll need to specifically include, but your first step is to create something visually unique or appealing to your target audience.
A good ad is:
- Authentic: The best ads are things people feel are real and genuine. Many candidates are very excited about the nitty-gritty pieces of policy which voters are often less interested in. A good political ad comes across with an emotional message that shows you care about the things you’re saying.
- Consistent: Digital content needs to be visually consistent across the span of your campaign so voters can easily recognize your name and message. Define a logo and a look for your campaign as soon as possible and stick to it.
- Emotional: People are most interested in how things make them feel. The most consistently effective messaging makes people feel hopeful, motivated, or that there are opportunities for us to do something important for our community.
- Beautiful: Good design means something is visually appealing. Create ads content that grabs your viewers' attention. Aim for a visually unique look.
- Clear: You have about 3 seconds when people are scrolling through their Facebook feed to grab their attention so get your message across in as few words as possible. Use easily readable fonts and colors. Use visual motifs like the shape of your district or state, or some visual landmark that makes your district unique like the Georgia Peach. These easily recognizable motifs help get your message across with fewer words.
You want to get simple messages across as efficiently as possible in a way that sticks in voters' brains. Below are a few examples Civic Power of Change has created for candidates.
Below are some things to keep in mind when creating good video content:
- Tell a story: Your ad should not only convey a message or introduce yourself, but tell a story that positions the viewer as the hero or center of the story. Using lines like “when I’m out knocking doors” or “I hear from my neighbors every day” can help convey both that your candidate is connected to the community, but also sets the stage for a story about voters' concerns and what you’ll do to solve them.
- Use Text: Not everyone will have their sound on while scrolling through Facebook, so it's important to include banner text on your video that tells people the takeaway of your ad. For example: Vote for Me on November 8th. Down Ballot candidates especially are looking to overcome a lack of name recognition, so include your name and your ask with your consistent branding.
- Use your video footage to show your connection: This B roll example from Senator Warnock’s campaign is the type of footage you’ll want to capture that shows your candidate's connection to their community, not just telling your viewer that connection exists.
- End with a specific call to action: Restate the action you want voters to take at the end of your video and provide the relevant links for that voter to complete that action. For example, if you are trying to increase name recognition, include a link to your website.
- Use a vertical format: Most Facebook content is viewed on someone’s phone, so make sure your video works in a vertical format.
Here is an example of a very effective and simple political ad from Louis Abramson who is running for state rep in California. The ad is visually interesting and unique, works in a vertical format, conveys a clear and emotional message, and has a specific call to action. You can see a more in-depth breakdown of more video content by watching our full training here.
Because Facebook allows you to boost specific content to specific audiences, you can have multiple ads with different messages running to multiple audiences. You can ask for donations from your Fundraising audience, invite your Organizing universe to an event, and boost existing positive news coverage to your Persuasion audience.
In this blog post, I walked through how to create and segment a custom audience, our resources for getting set up for Deck, and finally how to create good digital content. You can learn more about Civic Power of Change at their website here and sign up for your free access to Deck on our website here with a VoteBuilder API key! You can also view our full training recording here.