It is quite common for political campaigns to reach and impact voters and potential supporters through Facebook Ads. Most parties and movements spend some of their budget on Facebook advertising. Actually, many of the scandals surrounding political communication (Cambridge Analytica, foreign interference in elections, the spread of the fake news, etc.) were only possible because of Facebook.
Our company has been involved in political/advocacy Facebook campaigns in over 10 countries and we have helped manage some campaigns in which the total advertising spending was in the six-digit US dollar region. A Facebook campaign is a huge competitive advantage for those parties which know best how to reach voters and have the requisite tools, too. There are many ways that can help maximize the impact and effectiveness of Facebook advertising, for example the following:
- Using sophisticated target audiences (e.g.: custom audiences and look-alike audiences)
- Using many variations of an ad to personalize the experience as much as possible
- Using good creatives
- Using the various settings of the Facebook Ad Manager professionally, and many more.
In this article, I will not cover all of these topics nor will I provide a general overview of the best performing ad techniques. But I will show a little trick that can dramatically boost the effectiveness of your ads in a strategic manner. What’s more, it’s a low-hanging fruit that is potentially available to all parties and movements. Although this approach will yield the same immediate results that you could attain without it, at the same time you generate a long-term asset by using it. This way, your ad spending becomes an investment rather than a cost element.
Our suggestion is to have Facebook ads in your portfolio which urge users to interact with you in Facebook Messenger by clicking on the ads.
To run some of your ads with a setting that leads users to your Messenger channel has the following advantages:
- For the same money, you will get the same reach and interactions: The general metrics you usually look at when running a Facebook ad will not look significantly worse, it in fact they may even improve. So, the reach or the cost of an average engagement will be basically the same. If you spend the same budget on a traditional Facebook ad with the goal of reaching as many people as possible while you just activate the “Send to Messenger” feature in the ad, you can expect to have the same number of views, shares and reactions for that money. Analyzing ads from various campaigns with a combined ad spending of almost €1 million, our experience was that the average reach cost of an ad view was 4% lower in the sample than it was for comparable ads that did not include a Messenger redirect option. Of course, there were use cases when this approach proved slightly more expensive, but even in the worst scenario the extra cost per viewer of an ad that featured targeted Messenger interactions was less than 30% of the original price. Of course, you should use creatives and texts in these ads that have an impact in and of themselves, based merely on the viewing without the need to click on them. In our sample we examined ad creatives that were either the same or very similar apart from the applicable call-to-action, usually simple ad view (brand awareness) or some type of Facebook engagement juxtaposed with Messenger interaction.
- Clicking on a Messenger interaction ad will be a much more lasting experience for those who click on these ads than a simple ad view. When you click on an ad that leads you to Messenger, it will initiate a conversation between you and the advertiser’s Messenger channel. You probably have experience with more traditional call-to-actions like leading your audience to a landing page. Leading to a Messenger landing experience is very similar but it has a larger impact. One reason for this is the novelty of this channel. Everyone is tired of landing pages, no matter how good they are. But starting a conversation in Messenger after clicking on an ad is a new experience for most users, and as a result they are more likely to get excited about it and they will pay more attention. Another reason why it works better is the conversational format – it is inherently more engaging. Answering an interesting question is much more fun than filling out a form. The general conversion rate will be much higher than in the case of a traditional landing page. The same 2-20% of ad viewers will click on your ad, but over 50% of them will convert and engage in the expected interaction within the bot compared to the traditional 5-20% conversions of landing pages. The most typical use cases for Messenger conversations as landing experiences of Facebook ads can be:
- Signing a petition
- Receiving a personal Pledge Card from the candidate
- Going through an FAQ about a policy issue
- Joining a p2p sharing initiative to send messages to friends about a campaign
- Setting a reminder for election day
- Answering some policy preference questions
- Playing a quiz
- Registering as an activist
- Signing up for receiving regular news about the campaign
- And, of course, many creative experiences can be designed in a conversational, Messenger-friendly format
- But the most important advantage is that you get a GDPR-compliant database of Messenger subscribers who are easy to contact and to whom you can send messages later at no cost. Based on your target audience, the frequency of ad views and the relevance of your message, ca. 2-20% of ad viewers will click on the ad and receive the Messenger experience described above in Point 2. But the secret that basically no one in political communication is aware of: you can send messages to all your contacts who have once interacted with you in Messenger. Campaign managers think that they must pay Facebook over and over again if they want to contact their voters in Messenger. But in fact there is a Facebook “subscription” of sorts that gives political actors, NGOs or news providers the right to send messages to subscribers (technically those who have already interacted with the Messenger channel). So, for the same price you would have normally spent on Facebook ads you get a list of thousands of voters you can retarget later. I think it is self-evident for every campaign expert how much it means in terms of mobilization that you can send out personalized messages to thousands of voters on election day. And that message will land in the regular personal Messenger Inbox of the voter right there with the messages from friends and family members, triggering a push notification for 95% of Messenger users. No wonder our clients can experience open rates of more than 80% for their messages.
Finally, let us show four specific use cases for leveraging this tool in campaigns:
Pledge Cards in Messenger
Ad brief: Our major policy issue is fighting climate change. But we will do more than that, click here to receive a personal guarantee about what we will deliver if we get elected!
Messenger experience: after clicking the ad, the voter receives a digital card (an image) about the candidate’s 3 key promises the. This card is shareable, so the voter can be asked to share it with her/his friends, or you can also offer to explain the pledges in more detail. For instance, you can ask: Would you like to know more about Pledge No. 2? If the voter clicks yes in the conversation, you can send a video or a link about that policy item.
Result delivery campaign in Messenger
Ad brief: We have renovated 100 schools in the last 4 years. I am proud of my results and there are 100s of them. Want to know more? Click here.
Messenger experience: a picture, a one-sentence description is sent to the voter about a result achieved by the incumbent. Then a question is asked: Would you like to know more about this issue? The answer options are “Yes, send a link” or “Got it, show another” If someone clicks for another result, you can ask what policy area she is interested in and send her the next result (another picture with a short description). We once created a sequence of 100 results for a client, but it can be done in fewer steps, of course.
Asking for p2p sharing
Ad brief: Our opponent spends 10 times more on media. We can only count on you, help our campaign by sharing our message. Sign up here!
Messenger experience: a list of topics is sent in Messenger and the voter can select one or more. She will then regularly receive relevant campaign news on these subjects. There are presented in a Share Card format to make it easy to share with friends who are interested in the topic.
Signing a petition in Messenger (Chatition)
Ad brief: Do not cut subsidies for farmers! Help our fight by signing!
Messenger experience: the user is sent a short description of the issue (maybe combined with a video). There are two options: “I sign” or “I want to know more”. If someone clicks the second option, the Messenger bot sends additional info. If she signs, she receives a thank you message and the option to share her signature on social media or in Messenger
We believe every political campaign will use the power of messaging and Facebook Messenger in the coming years. It is a natural fit for every campaign. It creates a personal relationship between the voter and the campaign and a channel that is direct, personal and super-effective. However, it is always a major decision for a campaign to employ a new tool and to integrate a new channel among its campaign instruments. We tried to describe a cost-effective and risk-free way to try this tool and experience how useful it is.