Why The Race For The White House Goes Through Facebook

Now that Mitt Romney is the clear front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, we’re seeing both Romney and Obama’s campaigns ratchet up their advertising in an effort to reach male voters going into November. Historically, most of the political spend for a Presidential election would be for television ads, but with Facebook’s enormous reach, it now exceeds that of both broadcast and print media. 

This should come as no surprise. Nearly 2.65 million cable and satellite TV subscribers have canceled their service since 2008 and now rely solely on Web-based services, e.g., Boxee, Apple TV, Hulu. Which means the general public, and men in general, are spending less time in front of the television and more time multi-tasking on the Internet.

According to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, there are only 58 million basic cable customers in the U.S. as of December 2011. During that same time period, Facebook claimed nearly 155 million U.S. users, totaling 52% of the population. Of that, 13.7% are males ages 18-20 years old, 17.5% are 21-24, 13.2% are 25-29, 10.2% are 30-34, 15.3% are 35-44 and 10.4% are 45-54, according to Facebook’s data.  Since Facebook’s reach far surpasses that of broadcast and print media, why are politicians still investing their campaign dollars so heavily across print and broadcast outlets?

President Obama’s 2008 election campaign was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to leveraging social media, but it did underscore social media’s potential to drive donations, virally seed campaign messages, sway voters and foster a sense of community and momentum around a candidate. 

As we will soon learn, there are myriad opportunities for both the Romney and Obama campaigns to effectively utilize Facebook to reach male (and female) voters. The fact is, Facebook’s incredible targeting options (geo, demo, keyword, etc.), coupled with its massive worldwide usage volume make it one of the best venues for political campaign dollars.

Facebook’s robust demographic and interest-targeting capabilities allow campaigns to diversify messages to specific voter segments. This allows them to deliver messages to a male sub-audience based on their interests and background, not just sending out blanket messages to a larger demographic or geographic segment.

The ability to hyper-target men via Facebook is a far more cost-effective approach to political campaigns than other media. This is due to the fact that ad spend is not being wasted on audiences that are disinterested in the content and delivery of the information. Engaging male voters by appealing to their specific demographic, interests and issues is key, and Facebook makes that easier and more effective than ever.

But, more importantly, Facebook’s hyper-targeting capabilities also make it more difficult for your opponent to track and monitor your campaign. For instance, if you’re targeting young male voters on Facebook between ages of 18-20 years old or fans of Ron Paul, your opponent or others in their camp most likely will not be able to see these ads unless they fall within those targeting parameters – and let’s be honest, what are the chances of that. With Facebook, not only are you spending ad dollars in the right places, but it is far more cost effective compared to broadcast and traditional media. 

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2 comments about "Why The Race For The White House Goes Through Facebook ".
  1. Doug Pruden from Customer Experience Partners , July 19, 2012 at 11:17 a.m.
    I agree with much of your story. But I do question the comparison of 55M cable "households" to 155M Facebook "users". Using those numbers to suggest that the reach of Facebook "far surpasses that of broadcast and print" by comparing a household (which according to the US Census is 3.24 people) to a count of individuals doesn't seem right. I think both broadcast and social media will prove critical in this and future political races.
  2. Harry Webber from Smart Communications, Inc. , July 19, 2012 at 7:09 p.m.
    The Obama SuperPac is one of the largest users of Social Media among the political operatives focused on the 2012 Presidential election. Our estimated social media audience between Facebook and YouTube is approximately 2.8 million viewers. Our site at Facebook.com/ObamaSuperPac hosts an average of 6,500 users a day and our recent expansion of YouTube.com/OSPVideoworks is growing rapidly as a result of our integrating the video channel with our Facebook pages. Social media has provided a substantial audience for our messaging efforts and as we be begin to advertise on Facebook the growth has been dramatically accelerated. We are looking to expand our audience even more with the relaunch of http://ObamaSuperPac.com in the next two weeks.