Facebook “Boost” – Giving Facebook Campaign Funds for Nothing

We know it can be tempting when Facebook encourages you to “reach more people by boosting” when you make a post. But don’t. 

In the end, the “boost” feature is wasting your campaign dollars. There is actually no industry that recommends using the “boost” button. But many candidates (and even some elected officials, business owners, and otherwise savvy professionals) still use it.

Why you should never use Facebook “boost” for political ads

In Star Wars, a thermal detonator is a weapon that will vaporize everything in a 30-ft radius. It doesn’t matter what is inside that radius or what is above or below—it will be included. Facebook’s “boost” button works a lot like that.

Using the boost feature, you can select a radius around a certain point. You may be able to narrow slightly, but your options for targeting will be severely limited. At the time of this writing, you can only target ads via the boost feature by location, interest, age, and gender. Those are not enough for you to narrow only to potential voters. This will only waste your money. 

Not everyone on Facebook is a voter

Voting, like going to the movies or making annual trips to Disneyland, tends to be a habit only a few people share. Most people who are eligible to vote, don’t register, which makes them ineligible when the election rolls around. 

It’s important to know that everyone in your region will be eligible to vote. Some criminal records can bar people from voting and not everyone is a US resident. The Dallas-Fort Worth area, for example, is a highly international community. Many people come to the area for work or school, but don’t have American citizenship. 

Facebook would still include all of these people if they were within the radius of your “boost.”

Without knowing who is registered and having a way to target them, you are paying to reach people who couldn’t or wouldn’t vote for you.

The record-setting 2020 Presidential Election had the highest turnout of this century, with 66.8% of eligible people voting. That means around 33% of eligible voters sat out the election.

If you had been running ads in 2020 to just people you thought were eligible (say people over 18), you would have been wasting at least 33% of your budget, but almost certainly more.

Not all your page fans can vote for you

Facebook does allow you to “boost” to your page followers, but in the world of bots this can be a fruitless effort. Many candidates have friends and family outside their district. They can be a great source for donations and support, but they are not the people you need to persuade with your ads.

Almost always, Facebook page “likes” and followers will mostly be from outside a candidate’s district.

We had one client who could have been called an Instagram influencer. Even prior to running for office, he was well-known as a conservative leader and activist. He already had hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers when he announced his candidacy, but he had no public Facebook page.

We created his Facebook page, linked it to his Instagram, and posted his announcement video. Within days, his Facebook page had over 10,000 followers. That’s with no ads or promotion of any kind! 

However, taking a closer look at the insights for his page, we saw that only 12% of his followers were inside the district. Boosting an ad to his general Facebook following would have been a huge waste of money. 

Different messages for the right audiences make a big difference

Especially in a swing or purple district, you do not want to send independent or moderate General Election voters the same messaging as your hard-right activists in the Primary Election. “Boosting” does not give you a way to narrow your audience to people who share your values or who resonate with a particular message. Think of throwing spaghetti at a wall and just seeing if it sticks.

There are and will always be trolls regardless of what you do. However, you will get far more negative responses if your targeting doesn’t have a way of parsing out the people who may be offended by a given message. 

As we like to say, “don’t feed the trolls”. 

How to run Facebook ads the right way

Running Facebook ads via the Facebook Ads Manager gives you the most control and best placement options. 

Best practices for targeting political ads is to upload a data file of registered voters (usually Excel) to Facebook Ads Manager and use that to target. 

At Murphy Nasica & Associates, we use data analysis of public voter rolls to identify likely conservatives, right-leaning swing voters, or whoever we are trying to reach.

Facebook then takes this voter file and matches it to user information on Facebook. This means we can reach custom audiences of people who are eligible to vote and who will want to hear your message. 

We also use the same technique for targeting our display and “expanded network” ads outside social media. 

It is the best available method for reaching your voters online and ensures that you are reaching the relevant people while getting the most out of your ad dollars. It spends your money efficiently and helps reach the right voters!

TLDR: Don’t use the “boost” button. Hire us! 🙂 

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