Social media has become a valuable part of campaigns large and small. But in order to be effective, your reporting should rely less on vanity metrics and more on substance. In other words, your total “Likes” are less important than the total number of engaged followers. On Facebook, the simplest way to judge the effectiveness of your content is by the “People Talking about This” number. This number tells you the amount of unique people liking, sharing and commenting on your posts, answering your questions and responding to your events. Each campaign is different. The key to successfully engaging your audience is to test and determine what content works and when. Do not be afraid to try new Facebook campaigns to get your fans involved. Success also means being consistent and fresh. Be mindful of current events and top issues in the community. A weekly post of the same, slightly-altered graphic will not encourage an inquiring fan to learn more—and certainly not to “Share”. Your campaign is competing for space, and time, with hundreds of a user’s friends, favorite brands and politicians that want him to read more and take action. Building an engaged audience does not happen with one successful post. During my work on Governor Romney’s presidential campaign, we were successful when it came to increasing our engagement rate to parity or above President Obama’s while behind in total “Likes” by upwards of 15 million people. We were able to do this over time, in part, by consistently creating content that our fans wanted to engage with. This included posts, at least three or four daily, comprised of photos from the trail, images with a powerful quote, videos and easy-to-read comparison graphics. We used a call to action whenever possible. A call to action is as simple as encouraging folks to “Like” the post or asking them to donate $5 and “Share” with friends. A campaign’s social media strategy should include tactics that transform fans into activists. The levels of an activist range from someone who will “Like” your posts and “Share” with their network to one who volunteers or donates and encourages their friends to do the same. An army of activists will help you “Share” your message online and increase your campaign’s followers with a more attentive audience. Encouraging this cycle of growth will lead to higher engagement online and an increase in volunteers, donations and, ultimately, more votes on Election Day. Vanity metrics are great talking points, but if you’re looking to transmit your message, raise money and earn votes—grow activists, not “Likes”.
Bill Murphy is a digital public affairs strategist. Most recently, he worked on the Romney 2012 campaign. You can find him on Twitter @billmurphy.