Using Facebook To Reach The Female Electorate

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, September 1, 2015

Female voters largely determined the outcomes of many races in 2012, not the least of which was the presidency with President Barack Obama winning the female vote by 12 points. While women are not a monolithic voting bloc, 2012 shined a light on the fact that women do have succinct policy priorities. At the time, Gallup polled men and women in swing states finding that men ranked jobs and the economy as the two most important election issues. Women placed abortion and jobs as number one and two, with gender equality at number five. Clearly, there are female-centric issues for campaigns to consider and address.

Facebook has several advantages to reaching and engaging with female voters:

  • 77% of female internet users are active on Facebook, according to Pew Research. This majority crosses demographics—from income to education, and race to age and more. 
  • Facebook targeting allows campaigns to fine-tune their audience segments to reach not just women, but also geography, interests, age, etc. 
  • And, Facebook provides near real-time feedback for campaigns interested in using it as a listening tool.

As a key mechanism for communicating with women, first ask, where are you aligned?Use Facebook Insights to look at how your female audience responds to your content. Are they more or less likely to like, share or comment on posts on certain topics? Do they prefer images, videos, static text? Any other trends or spikes in activity among this constituency that you can point to as a source of success or failure that you can learn from? All of these data points will help illustrate where you are (and aren’t) aligned with the women in your audience. 

Talk to your Female Audience
Now that you know where your points of relative strength and weakness are with women, have a conversation.

  • Engage with them on topics that are priority to them. Don’t just talk. Listen. Listening can help you further fine-tune your strengths and give you a solid direction to move in to address your areas of growth. For example, the Ben Carson campaign asks a lot of questions designed to spark conversation: 

  • While I’m not saying every Facebook post should be specifically for women, posts that are for women should be valuable to them. Make sure you post content they’d be interested in sharing by asking, “Would I share this with my network?” If the answer is no, go back and start over.

    Truly, the meat and potatoes of political campaigns are building lists and raising funds. So, your content needs to create enough value to drive these outcomes. As voters get ever savvier, they’ll calculate the trade-off they feel they get from sharing their money and/or information. Make sure the scales tip in your favor.
  • Create an emotional connection with women. What tone do they respond to most – hopeful, critical, passionate? Use that emotion in images, videos and stories to help create and reinforce a connection. In doing so, women will not only remember your message but be motivated to share it too. The Hillary Clinton campaign does this well in this easy-to-connect with video post on pay equity:

  • Foster as safe an environment as possible for women of all walks of life to engage. Many issues women care about are personal, so creating a safe place to discuss the issues builds trust and deeper relationships with your organization, making them more likely to take action.
  • Upload your voter file and consider a specific campaign to turn-out the female voters on it. Campaigns should also use their voter file to create look-alike audiences to reach voters similar to those already likely to vote for them. Look-alike audiences are a great springboard to starting the conversation fresh with new voters, creating a virtuous cycle of engagement and action.

If you don’t A-S-K…
... You don’t G-E-T, as the saying goes. So, as part of the conversation, and in developing a deeper relationship with female voters, ask for action. Do they want to volunteer, donate or join your email list? ActionSprout research has found that 64% of Facebook action takers are women. Clearly, tapping into issues important to women can help your campaign find voters willing to take the next step.  

With over a billion dollars in planned ad spending in 2016, to break through the noise it is critical to create a connection with female voters, especially as they continue to outnumber men at the voting booth. Reaching women where they are at with engaging content that spurs them to action will certainly make Facebook a critical component of any successful modern campaign.

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