Facebook as a Political Organizing Tool

Hi folks, I’m just back from a long weekend whitewater rafting in West Virginia — nothing like a solid dose of 55-degree water and sheer terror to focus the mind. A bunch of potential articles have piled up over the four days I’ve been out of the loop, so let’s get started.

First up, Kira Marchenese at Environmental Defense has been learning a lot in the past few weeks about using Facebook for political organizing, and she’s put together some quick bullet points about its strengths that she’s graciously allowed me to reprint. Rumor has it that Republican candidates and causes have been using the site more effectively than progressives — lefties, take note.

Why Facebook is an interesting mobilizing tool:

  • It has eye-popping penetration among college students and young alums. I’ve been trying to find a college student I know without an account. I haven’t found one with fewer than 200 friends.
  • It’s super-viral. When someone joins a group, all their friends automatically see that they joined, and the friends are 2 clicks away from joining, too. (We had 20 people join a group we just started over the weekend — with no ads running.)
  • It’s not ad-heavy like MySpace, so the few paid ads stick out more.
  • It’s quick to start. Find someone in your org (or among your volunteers) who is on Facebook, give them $100 to spend, and they can have you going with a campaign inside of a day.

Tools of value for campaigns include:

  • A profile page for every candidate. They set them all up and gave the login info to the parties, but only some candidates are using them.
  • Free groups, which allow you to invite people to join, post events and send messages to members
  • Cheap ads — $5/2,500 impressions, $5/10K impressions in your own school network.
  • Paid groups, which are very pricey but give you more functions.

Thanks, Kira — good stuff.

BTW, Kira has some good contacts now at Facebook, so drop me a note if you’d like to talk with her and I’ll connect you.


Written by
Colin Delany
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