Monday, September 08, 2008

Facebook and Advocacy Campaigns: A New Tool?

Facebook, the social networking site extraordinaire, has gotten in to the advertising game. Anyone with a profile on the site can set up an advertising campaign designed to drive traffic to a website, a Facebook profile or anywhere else on the world wide web.

I've been playing around with this tool mainly for business development purposes (i.e., linking people to our business site). It's pretty easy to use. All you need to do is write an ad using the usual "haiku" format (ok, it's not a real haiku, it just feels like one), wait for it to be approved (no capitalization in strange places as I learned) and it starts running.

In keeping with the spirit of Facebook I've linked the ad to free resources on my site as opposed to anything for sale, so it's hard to tell whether there's been a positive impact. I didn't create a special Facebook landing page, which would be the smart thing to do and is next on my list. I have seen a slight uptick in newsletter subscriptions which may be a result of this campaign.

At any rate, the reason I'm mentioning this on my blog is that I believe there may be some advocacy applications for this approach, specifically in using the advertising tool to recruit activists for issue campaigns and as new association members. Political campaigns are already using it (I've seen a fair number of Obama ads pop up) and some issue campaigns like are on board as well. Advocacy organizations might want to take a look at whether this tool can help them access the active and socially connected people that use Facebook every day (and, in some cases, every minute).

Some of the downsides include cost (a minimum of $5 bucks per day AND the click through costs are much higher than Google) as well as the inability to target as specifically as one might like (or, at least, I can't figure out how to get to people just interested in grassroots advocacy and have to settle for people interested in politics in general). That said, it's worth a look for any organization seeking to get the word out to the Facebook audience -- and if you try it out, let me know how it goes!

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