I was feeling like a lot of the Amanda Curtis supporters are feeling now, and like the Bernie supporters felt last summer.
I was feeling like the Democratic Party just wasn’t right for me.
So I put up a post called My Political Future as a Republican.
I also sent an email to the Missoula County Republicans asking when their next meeting was.
I got a message back that it’d be on Tuesday, February 28.
So I went.
It was a small-time affair, with perhaps 15 to 20 people present…most of them quite old.
Vondene Kopetski is the chair of the Missoula GOP and she conducted the meeting.
Afterward I talked to her about social media and the lack of it on the Missoula GOP accounts.
We agreed that I’d write-up a report on the current social media situation and how it could improve.
I did that the very next day and sent it to her.
I didn’t get a response.
The days went by, and then the weeks.
I figured, ‘well, they’re laughing at me, wondering why this stupid-headed Democrat is trying to be something he’s not.’
So I wrote-it off and figured I’d let the Missoula GOP do their own thing. It helped a lot that 5 days after the meeting, Rob Quist won the Democratic nomination and I felt uplifted again.
I did finally get a response from Vondene, on March 22…three weeks after I sent out my report.
I really, really felt like waiting three weeks to reply to her email, but instead I waited a couple days.
I said that, ‘you know, I think I might do better to stick with the Democrats right now…even though they hate my guts.’
People come and go, and in a few years we’ll be rid of the morons and self-aggrandizers.
Doesn’t mean people will like me, but you know, I just don’t think GOP politics is for me.
So that was that – my short-lived experiment with being a Republican.
Might have turned out a whole lot differently if better communication was in play.
I’m glad it wasn’t.
So what does all this have to do with Facebook?
Well, when I did my report for the Missoula GOP I looked at all that stuff.
I’m going to give you that report now, which is made up of my observations about the current state of the Missoula County Republicans’ and Democrats’ social media situation.
I also have some ideas on how they can improve.
I have a lot more ideas in a book I wrote 2 years ago, and I’m sure some of you have bought it.
It’s sold 103 copies so far.
But first…let’s just go through some basics.
Website Donation Form/Button
- First, you want to get your name and your message out there…both to supporters and those you’d like to have support you.
- Second, you want to increase the financial donations to your campaign.
I’m sure there are other reasons to mix politics and social media, but I’m not sure if there’s any benefit to you.
Now, about those donations…specifically how to increase donations via the GOP or Democrats’ website.
What’s the best way to do that?
We know that the Republicans have nothing like the Democrats’ Act Blue, which has brought their Party $192 million since 2004.
Currently the Montana GOP site has a pretty good donation form.
I’m not sure who put that together, though it may have been the company Anedot.
They charge 3.9% + 30 cents per transaction.
PayPal charges 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction, so that may be the better route.
Currently I'm using Act Blue for my city council campaign. They charge 3.95% per donation.
Here's what my form looks like:
Right now 372 people like this page.
For comparison, the Missoula Democrats have 759 likes on their Facebook page.
They had about 8 posts in February, most coming on February 2.
The Missoula GOP hasn’t had a post on Facebook since December, and the one before that was in November.
Prior to that it was August, a few posts in June and then some in May.
That’s not a good social media policy.
I feel there needs to be more posts, and hopefully that’ll increase the engagement via likes and comments and shares.
Currently the Missoula Democrats do have a Twitter account, one with 351 followers (was 344 at the end of February).
It’s not very active and I think Dave Kendal controls it.
They had a string of tweets on February 22 but then you have to go all the way back to September to find the next two tweets.
Prior to that, a tweet hadn’t been sent out since July 2015.
That’s very poor social media usage.
We know that Montana political news happens first on Twitter’s #mtpol.
I hope the Missoula GOP can have a stronger presence there, and a strong strategy.
- A No-reply policy so that you’re not pulled into senseless arguments with anonymous accounts or inconsequential people.
- An automated daily posting schedule that automatically sends out tweets at certain times so you don’t have to be at the computer/phone all day.
- A social media strategy involving images from events, local GOP profiles, information on the tax situation, national news, and the occasional pot shot at Democratic policies/ideas.
Many of these things are interchangeable with your Facebook social media strategy.
The Takeaway Here
When a rhythm and routine is developed after a month or two, you might want to start some small-scale Facebook advertising.
Even $20 a week would get you more Missoula eyes on your posts, and hopefully some more likes to the page.
That way you can continue to have a daily/weekly presence in those people’s lives, getting your ideas and message out there.
I’m afraid if that doesn’t happen, people will just forget about you and when election time comes, apathy will take over. People will feel they’re alone in the liberal bastion of Missoula and they won’t think their vote means anything.
With a strong social media community, some of those feelings can be overcome.
Running a Montana Facebook Ad Campaign
What if we took some of my suggestions, such as spending $20 to do some basic advertising – what effect would that have?
I decided to find out.
I began to think more about Facebook advertising at the end of February.
It was the last day of February, actually, as that was the day I attended the Missoula County Republicans’ monthly meeting.
We talked about social media during that meeting, and the power it can have for campaigns…specifically when it comes to fundraising.
Also on my mind at that time was Bill Paxton.
Yes, the actor.
He died on February 25, and I first found out about it because tons of people were suddenly sharing this old photo I’d put on my page way back in 2015 or so.
I was getting lots of notifications about that, as well as notifications that I should boost that post…meaning promote it.
Well, I’d rather promote my own stuff and get traffic to my site…as well as the advertising dollars that traffic generates.
So on March 3 I decided to spend $5 to boost a post on my page.
I put absolutely no thought into it, other than $5 was pretty low and I could afford that.
The post wasn’t even that good – just a 2-year-old historical image post about an old dam that was built more than 100 years ago.
But my goodness…people liked it!
For $5 I managed to reach over 8,000 people, and 65 of them reacted to the post, mostly with likes.
That’s not quite accurate, however, at least when you dig into the wider analytics picture.
For instance, this is a better way to look at it:
Here Facebook is telling me that I reached 666 people and had 66 engagements (likes, shares or just clicks on the image) with my post.
In fact, we get a complete breakdown of that. In my case I got:
- 35 likes
- 17 photo clicks
- 10 shares
- 4 link clicks
- 3 page likes
So…which of those is the best?
That all depends on what your social media marketing campaign goals are.
- Likes are great, but they’re the most fleeting. I’d rather have someone like my page as that way they’ll see all my future posts (if they choose to follow the page and not just like it).
- Link clicks are great as you want people to get back to your site…unless your post has your main message. In this case, my post did not.
- Photo clicks are nice, but again, it doesn’t really benefit you.
- Shares are pretty good because you’re now getting more eyes on your post/message, and you’re also creating the chance for more link clicks or page likes.
Again, it all comes down to your goals. I had no clearly defined goals with this campaign, however, as it was more experimental than anything.
Another interesting metric I liked was this one:
Here you can see that 94% of the people engaging with my post were men.
When I do future campaigns of this type, it might save me some money by excluding women from the targeting.
Another option is to figure out how to get more women interested.
Overall when you look at that week that saw Bill Paxton die and me do that first boosted post, this is what you’ll see:
My page likes went up by around 9% but my page visits went up by 343%.
More, my total weekly reach went up by 305% and the people engaged with my page went up by 382%.
Personally, I think those are some pretty good results for $5.
I was so impressed by this boosted post that I figured I’d boost another post, one that I thought even more people would be interested in.
This was a post about missing people in Glacier National Park.
In total it reached 535 people, getting 25 link clicks, 21 likes, and 6 shares in the process.
I did one more that week, this time to promote my book Colter’s Winter.
That post reached 384 people, got 10 likes, 9 link clicks, 3 shares and 3 page likes.
I ran all of these campaigns via my Big Sky Words page.
For $15, I think it’s a good deal.
I wonder how many more website visitors I've gotten, too. My unique visitor count has jumped from around 1,100 a day to 1,200 a day over the past couple weeks.
I’ll be doing more of this promotion in the future, and when I get rolling on my city council campaign I’ll do a lot.
I really do think that this is a good way to reach Missoula voters, informing them who you are while at the same time increasing your chance for donations.
Give it a try the next time you post a blog or run a campaign.
You know I will.