Like it or not, there are legitimate political interactions happening on social networks. Facebook’s “Town Hall” feature that launched in March 2017 helps people find local, state and federal government representatives in just one click. Twitter is now a platform used by the highest office of the U.S. to inform the public of significant policy changes. And time will only tell if we might see an official Donald Trump Snapchat story with the dancing hot dog filter!
There’s a reason just about all of today’s politicians have social media accounts: Because their constituents do. This is where voters live – and where they take action.
Martin Waymire witnessed this truth in full effect through our work with the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association’s Fix MI State campaign.
FIX MI STATE
The Fix MI State campaign launched in December 2016, complete with a website, videos, social media channels and native and social media advertisements. The goal? To educate Michigan resident’s about the state’s massive, unmet infrastructure needs. MITA recognized that without an informed public, any future proposed legislative solutions to fixing infrastructure would likely fail.
In late April 2017, the Michigan House cut – and the state Senate completely eliminated – $20 million proposed in the 2018 state budget for the Michigan Infrastructure Fund. This is when Fix MI State shifted its education goals toward advocacy by galvanizing social media followers to contact lawmakers and demonstrate Michigan voters’ desire to invest in our state’s infrastructure.
We wanted to turn Fix MI State’s followers into advocates for infrastructure legislative solutions. Ultimately we had two key goals:
- Get Michigan residents and voters to take action and contact their lawmakers via email, phone or social media
- Restore the Michigan Infrastructure Fund to at least $20 million in the 2018 state budget
BUDGET & STRATEGY
The total budget was $42,500 including video production, digital and social media ad placements and purchasing Phone2Action—an online advocacy tool for voters to contact lawmakers.
The target audience for the campaign was Michigan voters, so our strategy relied heavily on Facebook advertising to target people living in Michigan who are likely to engage in politics (liberals, moderates and conservatives).
We used a combination of promoted posts and website click ads that used the videos and infrastructure facts to drive traffic to the link where users could take action to specifically tell lawmakers to restore the Michigan Infrastructure Fund.
Here are some examples of the Facebook Ads we used to compel people to take action:
On June 14, 2017, the Legislature agreed to not only restore $20 million in the Michigan Infrastructure Fund as originally proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder, but legislative leaders appropriated $35 million into the fund.
The campaign compelled 582 people to contact their state representatives and senators, with a total of 1,146 direct communications with lawmakers (an average of nearly 8 contacts per legislator).
Through a mix of Facebook and Google advertising, we were able to generate 3 million ad impressions, more than 22,000 link clicks and 33,000 views of the video spot. Without question, effective direct lobbying from MITA combined with earned media and emails, messages and tweets from voters secured an important advocacy victory.
ONE MORE LESSON
Of the 1,146 direct communications with lawmakers, only 2 were phone calls. For advocacy campaigns to succeed you can’t ignore where voters live and how they want to take action. You have to give users options for how to take action that are immediate and have a low bar to entry. Constituents’ preferred communication channels have evolved. Our communications strategies must as well.