September 27th, 2011
Rick Perry may have tried to upstage her with his campaign launch, but Michelle Bachmann did win this year’s Ames Straw Poll, usually an early indicator of a candidate’s strength in first-to-caucus Iowa. An article in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle suggests that Facebook Ads may have put her over the top:
Bachmann did this to great effect in August, when she won the Republican straw poll in Iowa in part by zeroing in on the Facebook pages of potential supporters who lived nearby. Facebookers who had identified themselves as Tea Party supporters or Christian rock fans, or who had posted messages in favor of tax cuts or against abortion, found an ad from Bachmann waiting for them on their profile page in the weeks before the vote, asking for their support and directing them to a link where they could arrange a free ride to the polling place. Bachmann’s campaign says a significant portion of the people who pushed her over the top in Iowa — they won’t say how many — came as a result of the ad campaign.
Note the crucial qualifier — “they won’t say how many” — which does rather take the air out of this balloon, but kudos to Becky Donatelli’s Campaign Solutions for great coverage in the piece. Another big sip of the Facebook Kool-Aid:
The campaigns are able to churn out so many ads because Facebook makes it cheap and easy to do, especially compared with TV spots or even Google Ads, which can reach many more people but not necessarily the ones most likely to respond favorably. Facebook ads can be had for 50 cents or less per click – and by counting those clicks, the campaigns know within minutes whether they’re working.
No mention of Facebook’s declining ROI here! I haven’t seen $.50 per click in a long time…but perhaps Campaign Solutions has some targeting magic up its sleeve (they do talk about creating over 1000 ad variants, which suggests A LOT of testing).
Another interesting angle: FarmVille. Campaign Solutions is working with a developer on an application to let a campaign’s supporters get politically active in the popular Facebook game:
Their online characters will be able to go door to door to other players’ imaginary farms, campaigning for real-life candidates and placing yard signs on their lawns. Hendrix is blunt about his intentions. “The majority of social gamers are stay-at-home moms over 38,” said Hendrix. And they vote. He hopes to use the game “to target soccer moms again.”
Second Life may have been a bust for politicos, but perhaps FarmVille will provide more-fertile opportunities for digital pioneers to cultivate votes in virtual fields.