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Facebook’s Gone Presidential – How the Candidates are Using Facebook

With another presidential election less than a week away, you better believe the candidates’ Facebook pages are doing everything they can to get people motivated. Let’s take a look at what Obama and Romney’s campaigns are doing on Facebook. There may be something you can learn that can help your own Facebook marketing efforts.

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After taking a close look at both Facebook pages, it’s apparent that Obama and Romney are posting an average of three to five times a day and have a photos, donate, and online store tab. Both are posting photos to keep engaged with users, are encouraging donations, offering campaign-specific items in their online store, and asking for help in regard to Hurricane Sandy. There are definite similarities between their strategies.

To encourage fans and keep users involved, both campaign pages have utilized contest and giveaway apps. For example, Romney’s latest promotion encouraged users to donate to the Republican campaign for a chance to win a day on the road with Vice Presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, or a spot at the election night party in Boston. Obama has run similar contests in the past, though they’ve been far fewer since the general election season kicked off.

Though both campaigns’ Facebook strategies seem similar, there are actually some major differences between the two. Romney’s campaign page tends takes a more action-based approach. Most of Romney’s posts and pictures are calling people to take action, mostly to donate. Nearly every post includes a link to a donation landing page. The candidate seems to be using location-centric posts, or at least is using them to target Utah users, who constitute a rabid portion of his fanbase.

Obama’s page is more motivational and informative, geared toward encouraging shares and virality. His posts contain links, but usually to content such as a video or issue landing page. He doesn’t appear to be using location-targeted posts, but we’re unable to know for certain. His page has made use of Timeline highlighted posts and milestone features, which Romney hasn’t used very often.

Romney’s page also consists of 12 tabs compared to Obama’s mere 6. Several of Romney’s tabs are photo sharing and petition apps that appear to generate limited engagement (the petition app appeared to be down at the time of this post). Obama’s tabs are an email registration form and a “share” app that shows a user’s commitment to voting. Both have the prerequisite stores and donation tabs.

As far as fan engagement? Every post gets dozens of shares and comments. Quite wisely, the official pages stay away from interacting too much in the comments, because…well, we’ll just say there are a lot of angry, passionate people posting on each candidate’s page. If it were a business letting their comments spin out of control, there would be an issue, but with politics it’s par for the course.

Which page’s strategy appears to be working better? Going by fans alone, Obama’s page has over 31 million likes while Romney follows behind with over 11 million likes. But likes are only part of the Facebook equation; engagement, interaction, and turning fans into “paying customers” are also huge barometers of Facebook marketing success. For instance, despite the gap in likes, Romney has more people “talking about this” than Obama at the moment.

Both pages are incredibly active, proving that Facebook is a valuable tool in connecting with people and arming them with value. Will they make a difference in the election? Maybe, but the bottom line is social media marketing is a force to be reckoned with, and the candidates know it.

So, social media electorate: Whose Facebook page do you think is superior?

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