Facebook is great for visibility. But that’s not enough for most advocacy campaigns. You need to turn those lukewarm “Likes” into advocacy action, lickety-split.
If your goal is to engage a larger audience to take action, or mobilize your grassroots to bring an issue in front of lawmakers, Facebook is one of the best ways to quickly cause a stir.
But, it’ll require dedicated time on the “book.” And, like anything, there are pitfalls to avoid and tricks and techniques, from the simple to complicated, to help you get there.
Read on for 21 ways to light a match under your next advocacy campaign
1. Keep your issues’ call to action or action alert at the top of your feed
You’ve spent ages getting your post just right. It’s got the perfect call to action or action alert, but you have to keep rescheduling it to stay at the top of your page?
No need. Here’s how you can keep it as the first thing people to your page see.
1. Click on the / arrow in the top right corner of your post and click on “Pin to Top”.
2. When you want to “unpin” it, just follow the same step and click “Unpin From Top”
2. Embed your Facebook call to action post on your legislative website
If your web traffic audience is more substantial than your Facebook one, and you want to drive people there, do it directly from your legislative action website by embedding some of your posts.
To add a post to your website, follow these steps:
Click on the / arrow on the top right of your post and choose “Embed”
It automatically generates HTML code you can put on your website.
Click preview to see what it’ll look like on your page. Now, when people click the post on your site, they’ll go right to your Facebook Page.
3. Use your action alert emails for Facebook, and use Facebook for your action alert emails
You’ll be emailing your advocates (and potential advocates) with updates on your issue. (See email section) Follow these steps to make sure you’re keeping your message cohesive and rolling across all your channels:
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- On the footer of your emails, put a link to your Facebook page as a call to action.
- Include a teaser Facebook post as part of your email, so readers are more likely to go there.
“See the eye-popping way Jane Doe got Sen. Jim Blogs to change his mind on S.B. 1234”
- Tell people to join a Facebook group you’ve created for more FAQs or to join volunteer/rallying/events. Let people know they can contact you directly on Facebook Messenger to get feedback, ask questions, explore volunteer opportunities or discuss the progress of the advocacy campaign.
- If you have a more substantial Facebook following than email list, make sure to tell people to “click” for regular updates that bring them to your legislative action website, so they can fill in their email. As with Twitter (see Twitter section) pitch your email subscription to your Facebook friends and followers. You’ll be surprised how many aren’t on there.
4. The final Facebook countdown
Say your petition needs 100,000 signatures for a White House review, or you’ve a goal of 10,000 tweets, or 5,000 letters to Congress before a bill goes to a vote?
Whatever it is, people love metrics, so work them on Facebook .
If you’ve got the time and manpower, plan on posting every day for the last 20 days or so, giving people the daily countdown, or using a different piece of content each day showing the consequences if the bill gets passed/rejected.
It gives people a reason to engage with you every day, and a sense of urgency if they haven’t already taken action.
“15 days left to fight Congress’ attempt to destroy the pesticide industry with H.B. 1234”
Schedule your posts ahead of time (see Social Media Management Tools in the Twitter section).
Even better, add an actual countdown clocktimer plugin to your page, so that when someone lands on it, they automatically see how many days are left to fight the bill, gather signatures, take action, etc.
5. Find your fans with tracking pixels BEFORE something blows up. That way they’re primed and ready to go.
What does that mean?
Facebook’s Website Custom Audience Pixel installs snippets of HTML code that lets it record users that come to your website.
That way, when you need a sympathetic audience to take action for you, you can target those who have already visited your website, and are likely to be interested in your cause.
The good news is Facebook lets you track your fans before you start spending any ad money with them.
How do I generate the code?
Step 1. Create an ad account and go to Ads Manager
Step 2. Under the “Tools” bar, click “Audiences”
Step 3. Click “Create Audience” and choose “Custom Audience.
Step 4. Select “Website Traffic” when asked the type of audience you want to create.
Step 5. You’ll be asked to name your audience and type of traffic.
Step 6. View or email your pixel code to install it on your website. If you email it to yourself it’ll show you how to install it. Or, you could email it to your website person and get them to do it for you!
Step 7. Some advocacy software providers like Engage allow you to insert the code one time and it’ll appear on every page of your site.
Step 8. Start tracking. Now when you do your next Facebook advocacy campaign, you’re able to target people who have already been to your site and are likely interested in your issues.
Facebook will also target people similar to those who have been to your site, expanding your relevant audience. The more data you have, the better your advocacy campaigns are going to be.
Both Facebook and Twitter allow you to generate tracking tags before you spend any money with them, but you will have to put in your credit card when you create an ad account.
6. Videos on Facebook are 7 times more engaging than any other content, so use them abundantly in your advocacy campaign
Even better, you can now live stream your updates on Facebook groups and Facebook events.
Are you making a thing of delivering all those petition signatures to Capitol Hill? Then stream it.
Got an event related to your issue, where people have turned out to show their support, protest or raise funds?
Video could be your one shot of getting mildly interested parties to pay your issue attention, so don’t lose the opportunity. Plus, it works well for those who might have RSVP’d to your event, or support your cause, but can’t make it on the day.
7. Remember, when uploading a video directly to Facebook …
- Directly uploaded videos automatically play on the viewer’s stream, making them more eye-catching than a video thumbnail.
- If you link to a video hosted on another site, the link appears with a small thumbnail from the video.
- MP4s work best, but Facebook supports all video types.
- Keep file sizes under 750MB for the best upload experience, and keep your resolution under 1080p.
8. Use your Facebook page to help your issue, and use your issue to build more Likes
Action rather than “Likes” is your goal here for this type of advocacy campaign, but many associations and nonprofits have a more extensive membership or email list than they do a Facebook presence.
You’ll get more people to like your page if they have a good reason to go there.
Your members will be more motivated to visit if you tell them it’s a good way to get updates on the issue they care deeply about, thus building your social media footprint, and keeping your organization and issue top of mind.
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9. See how people are interacting with your page and campaign posts with Page Insights
Get a deeper analysis of the traffic your advocacy campaign posts are getting, or whether your action alerts are resonating, by seeing who is looking, taking action, or interacting with your posts.
It’ll give you a better understanding of the sort of content or calls to action you should be creating around your advocacy campaign, too.
If your page is brand new, the Insights section will automatically kick in after about 30 people have liked your page.
10. Find your “friendly” groups
Forget about six degrees of separation, for Facebook it’s actually 3.57.
You should be building partnerships with like-minded pages to ask them to share your page with their “friends.”
Identify people in the same wheelhouse as you, who are not competitors.
Say you’re fighting a pro-fracking bill with your advocacy campaign. Chances are, environmentalist group pages will be open to your message.
Here’s how to find like-minded groups, fast.
Step 1. Go to one of the pages or groups of another organization most relevant to your issue.
Step 2. Click on the search box in the upper lefthand corner and browse the list of names and number of followers that pop up.
Step 3. Then click on a group that looks like it would have a similar audience, open their page and repeat step 2, until you’ve got 20 or 30 groups you can post your action alert to.
Step 4. Comment on the great campaigns of the pages you’re trying to build a relationship with. They’re more likely to share your posts in the future if your “ask” doesn’t come out of the blue.
11. Manually post on pages where you think your advocates might be
It won’t show up in their followers’ streams, but they might see you as a like-minded soul and pick up your issue, getting you in front of a bigger audience.
This takes a bit of time, but if you tailor your message to fit a distinct group, it’s well worth getting in front of a potentially valuable new set of supporters.
12. Get your action alert right out there. But keep it short and direct, give it a sense of urgency, and don’t bury the lead
As a candy bar lover, we need you to contact Senator Betty Boo to let her know that this legislation will decimate the candy bar manufacturing business, and ruin kids’ vacations across the country. End the madness, and SIGN THE PETITION to stop this bill NOW!
Make sure your action button is a live link to your legislative action website where advocates can sign the petition, write their lawmaker, and get the rest of their questions answered.
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13. Keep it personal, and make other peoples’ stories work for you
Facebook is still about making human connections, so while your advocacy campaign is running, share personal stories with photos. They’ll have a better chance of being shared, watched, or picked up.
They don’t have to be stories sourced or written by your organization. If your issue is a big one, it’s likely the media is writing about it, too. They may have done the hard work for you.
Here’s an example from NYCLASS.
NYCLASS, an animal advocacy organization committed to ending the NYC carriage horse industry, latched onto a news story where actor Liam Neeson, who defended the carriage industry, controversially challenged NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to “man up” and debate him on the issue.
NYCLASS immediately launched a Facebook photo campaign, “Real Men Have Compassion for Animals,” where their organic reach skyrocketed to 381,039 Facebook users in just a three-day period.
Note how they kept their call to action short and sweet, and right up front.
“Stand up to Liam Neeson by adding your name here”
14. #Hashtags. Just like in Twitter, use ‘em
It took Facebook a long time to implement hashtags, and surprisingly few people still seem to use them, but they’re important to link your post to other similar posts, and can give you a boost.
Unlike Twitter, you’re not character-length limited, so you can use real words that make actual sense in your hashtags.
15. Don’t just get people to advocate. Get them to ask others to do it, too
Birds of a feather flock together, right? Doesn’t it make sense that the people interested in your issue or cause are likely to be friends with other people interested in it, too?
Now that you’ve got them fired up about it, it’s time to ask them to share. They may not think of it themselves, so you’ll have to suggest it. Here are some easy asks:
- Please share our post, photo, video, article or infographic with your friends!
- Consider changing your profile photo to our issue logo
- Please tag, email or sign a letter to encourage or thank X lawmaker
- Share your personal story related to our cause
16. Simple still works best
Most legislation is difficult to explain in a few short sentences.
Break your issue down into smaller pieces that are humanly relatable.
Say you work for the nuts and bolts manufacturers’ association, and Congress is about to pass legislation changing the thread of the typical U.S. nut by a fraction of a millimeter. That’s likely to cause havoc in every industry that uses nuts and bolts, but trying to explain the full cascading effects are close to impossible.
So maybe your advocacy campaign focuses on the car manufacturing industry and the jobs and productivity that will be lost/gained with individual calls to action.
The more specific you can be when asking people to act, the easier it is for them to see how their participation leads to impact.
Here’s a great example:
When the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) needed to get their advocates to write to Congress to encourage them not to dispose of America’s public lands, they narrowed their focus to the sportsmen’s groups that use them.
TRCP launched its “Unlocking Sportsmen’s Access” campaign in January 2015, and included a Facebook page
that got more than 99,000 Likes.
Their call to action led to more than 23,000 signatures on a webpage petition demanding Congress not cede to private interests in selling public lands, and generated more than 174,000 letters to local, state and federal lawmakers.
17. Throwing a little $$ at Facebook might make all the difference for your advocacy campaign
If your budget doesn’t include a line item for a Cost Per Advocate program (see the Paid Digital section) a good alternative, particularly if you already have a fairly robust Facebook following, are Facebook ads or promoted posts.
Facebook lets you target ads at people based on multiple characteristics, such as interests, behaviors, gender, age, location, etc. That way you can micro target your issue posts at people likely to be interested in your cause, finding you potential new supporters and advocates to take action.
And if you’ve completed Action #5 you’ll also be able to target the people who visited your site.
Test to see what type of ads might be cost-effective in the ad creation tool on Facebook, before ramping up to larger “must-win” issues.
Here’s an example of a successful paid Facebook advocacy campaign:
When the U.S. Travel Association wanted to get people to contact their congressional representatives, urging reform about the need for an improved entry process for people traveling to the United States, they geo-targeted paid Facebook posts to reach people in regions where people would be most receptive to their message.
The advocacy campaign reached over 1 million people and resulted in 24,000 interactions, 5,360 Likes and nearly 1,000 new fans.
Ads can be placed in different places on a page (the right column or in News Feed on mobile or desktop devices) depending on what your objective is, the audience you’re targeting, and the images or text you choose (see below).
Decide your budget and audience, upload your image, text or graphic and hit publish.
18. Give your post a lift
Already got a great post related to your issue, but it’s just not getting that viral traction?
Consider boosting or promoting it.
Promoted posts are existing posts that you pay to “boost,” so they appear in News Feeds for people outside of your current audience.
Note: They’ll show up with a “Sponsored” label below your Page name.
Follow these steps:
Step 1. Click on the “boost post” button on the bottom right of your post.
Step 2. Decide on the audience you want to reach. You can use an old one you’ve targeted in the past, or create a new one.
Step 3. Set the budget and duration you want to post for.
19. When your post makes all the difference
There’s no one-size-fits-all and there are several studies about the best times to post (CoSchedule looks at 16 of them), but logic would determine you post when your audience is most likely to see it.
Turn the odds in your favor by keeping these things in mind:
- Post when people are actually on Facebook. Not when you’re on there for work. There’s 30%+ more engagement on Facebook on weekends, and that’s also when people are more likely to click through on posts. But try and aim your posts for around 1 p.m. — that’s when they’re more likely to be read. And stay away from the crazy “8”s at the weekend. Facebook is a ghost town before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
- People are reported as being happier on Fridays (no surprise), and Thursdays. Fridays see an increase in Facebook use in general. Tap into that feel-good vibe by posting something humorous or entertaining, or weekend-related, if your action alert allows for it.
- Know your audience. If your organization is made up mostly of working parents, they may not be on Facebook until well after 7 p.m. at night, or on weekends, so schedule posts for them as well.
20. Respond to the good, bad, and the ugly and turn it into an opportunity
Yes, in any advocacy campaign there are trolls and people who will disagree with your issue. Sometimes vehemently. Use it as an opportunity to reiterate your call to action the way the ASPCA did here.
21. And win, lose or draw, share it (and your next steps) on social as well as by email
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently campaigned for modifications to a Department of Labor (DOL) rule on changes to the overtime exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
While the DOL didn’t make the proposed changes, SHRM didn’t lose a beat.
They quickly responded with an event explaining what the new ruling would mean, and promoted it on Facebook.
Another post explained in depth to their members what the rule would mean in each state.
We hope that these 21 Facebook tips help your advocacy campaign take off. If you need any help with leveraging your social media efforts, check out Ignite or Engage, our software that makes running grassroots advocacy campaigns a breeze.
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