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What’s trending in Get Out the Vote content?

It might be an “off” year, but elections are still happening across the country this November. As we warm up for 2020, we’re taking a closer look at political engagement in college students and LGBTQ people. Plus, we get takes on strategies to get people to the polls. You can spark discussions about democratic participation by sharing trending stories like these from the ActionSprout GOTV Recommended Stories feed. After all, you never know who you might inspire to become an active voter. 

College Student Participation Increases

Voter participation is surging among college students — more than doubling between the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections. If they go vote with the same energy they did in 2018, they could become an important voting bloc in the 2020 election.

Why share? Young people are the future, and it’s inspiring to see them motivated to exercise their right to vote. If college students were this pumped to vote in a midterm election season, imagine the possibilities for turnout in 2020.

Insights About LGBTQ Voters

A new study found that about 21% of LGBTQ adults in the U.S. aren’t registered to vote. They’re registered at a lower rate than cisgender, straight adults. Of the LGBTQ voters who are registered, they are more likely to be male, white, live in urban areas and support Democrats. This study also has some other interesting insights on registered LGBTQ voters.

Why share? There’s still plenty of time to push LGBTQ folks to register to vote before the 2020 election. We need to encourage voter participation across the board, but we especially need to help give voice to underrepresented communities.

Does Automatic Voter Registration Work?

If your measure of success is getting more voters on the rolls, the answer is yes. As far as increasing voter turnout the answer is unclear. There’s the argument that people who wouldn’t otherwise register to vote are probably still not going to vote — even if they are automatically registered.

Why share? Supporters of automatic voter registration say it could increase participation, but the results so far are lukewarm. This shows that automatic voter registration won’t cure all turnout woes and that the heart of the problem is still getting people motivated to cast their votes.

Bonus: Campaign and election experts insist vote tripling campaigns are key to wins in 2020. Learn how to boost a vote tripling campaign for a bigger impact here.

Opinion: Make Voting Mandatory

“While turnouts are higher in United States presidential elections — 60 percent in 2016 — can we say that democracy is thriving when 40 to 50 percent of voters still opt to stay at home?” Author Dambisa Moyo makes an argument for why the U.S. should have mandatory voting

Why share? This is a great example of GOTV content that engages audiences online. Increasing voter turnout, especially when it’s not a presidential election year, is a struggle. Asking people their thoughts about this article and mandatory voting will open up a conversation.

GOTV Effort in Northern Kentucky

There’s a get out the vote blitz happening in Northern Kentucky, and it’s a big concerted effort. Chambers of commerce, businesses, organizations, and folks filled with passion are collaborating to engage the public.

Why share? It’s really great to see a whole community rally behind civic engagement. If this goes well, it could serve as a model for similar initiatives all across the U.S.

Have you ever been to a grocery store during the political campaign season? If so, you’ve likely encountered canvassers collecting commit-to-vote (CTV) pledges. Canvassers or campaign volunteers using the CTV approach first ask individuals if they intend to vote for their candidate. If the voter says yes, the campaign then asks them to sign a pledge documenting their intent to vote.

But according to behavioral scientist and GOTV pro, Robert Reynolds, there are two big flaws to CTV pledge drives. First, there’s not much evidence that CTV drives turnout voters. In fact — and here’s the second problem — some voters find the CTV approach condescending. Because individuals are asked to sign a pledge after they’ve already said they’ll vote, the voter essentially hears the campaign saying, “Your word isn’t enough. We’re going to need that in writing.” That’s not the message a candidate or campaign wants to send would-be supporters. Fortunately, there’s another practice that experts believe makes voters feel empowered and brings more ballots to the box on Election Day. Meet vote tripling.

What Is Vote Tripling?

While CTV pledge drives suggest that an individual’s verbal confirmation alone cannot be trusted, a vote tripling effort asks nonactivists to make sure just three of their friends participate in the upcoming election. Then, the campaign helps the new tripler keep their pledge by sending them personalized reminders before important election milestones, like registration deadlines and early voting windows.

The vote tripling approach makes sense. The same nonactivist group that vote tripling is designed to target is made up of people who are unlikely to volunteer for a political campaign and aren’t interested in mobilizing more than three or so friends but have the voting power to boost a campaign’s turnout by as much as 12%. Not only does vote tripling engage the nonactivist voter and reinforce their intent to vote, but this method also extends campaign outreach efforts and touches more voters than the traditional CTV can. In this case, about three times more!

Vote Tripling with Social Actions

The best way to reach more voters with a vote tripling campaign on Facebook is with the Social Actions feature in ActionSprout. Not only do Social Actions help campaigns keep in touch with those who’ve pledged to be vote triplers, but it also makes it easier for those supporters to stay engaged and excited about their pledge.

 

Here’s how to set up your vote tripling Social Action:

  1. Go to the Social Actions section of your ActionSprout account and create a new petition action.
  2. Edit the fields so they match the sample action.
  3. Post it to your Facebook page.
  4. Promote it with Facebook ads to people in your district.
  5. Export the list of people who pledge to do it. (Remember: The list will also include email addresses and any other contact information you require.)
  6. Send those people emails, reminding them to encourage their friends when the time is right.

New to Social Actions? Visit our help page to get started.

 

Yes, there are new Facebook ad requirements. And yes, this policy change even affects your nonprofit page! Effective November 2019, any U.S. Facebook page that wants to create or edit ads about social issues, legislation, elections, or politics has to go through the platform’s page authorization process. And since promoted posts or ads are the fastest way to grow your email list, find new donors, and increase your reach, we recommend that every organization or group page complete the new Facebook ad authorization process. Yes, even you! 

Whether or not you have promoted Facebook posts in the past or not, completing the new ads authorization process will ensure that your page can participate in collaborative advocacy campaigns with other organizations and build a stronger community of supporters on Facebook.

But wait, why are nonprofits affected by this change if they don’t run political ads?

Great question! Nonprofit organizations may not post about specific political candidates, but Facebook standards do consider most nonprofit content to be issue-based. So whether you’re promoting a fundraising drive post or an article about a public policy that affects your work or those you serve, that post is likely to be flagged as issue-based content and can’t be promoted until you get your ads disclaimer set up.

Why worry about it now?

Setting up your disclaimer and authorizing your Facebook page does take time, so the best time to get authorized is before you want to run ads. That’s why, even if you haven’t used ads before, there’s no benefit to delaying your nonprofit page authorization. The best time to set up your disclaimer and get authorized is now.

Ready to get started? Let us walk you through the steps to help get you set up to run political or issue ads on Facebook.

Step 1: Set up a new Facebook Business Manager account.

Go to https://business.facebook.com/overview/ and click “Create Account.”

Create Facebook Business Manager Account screenshot

Step 2: Add Facebook page(s) to Business Manager.

Remember: Only the page administrator can complete the entire ad authorization process, so make sure you have that access.

Step 3: Create (or add an existing) Facebook ad account.

Facebook ad account overview

 

Step 4: Add a payment method to the ad account.

Your payment method will never be charged unless you create an ad or take steps to promote a post.

Step 5: Add people to Business Manager and assign to page and ad account.

Adding trusted members of your team means you won’t be the only one with access to Business Manager, making it easier for others to support ads and campaigns when you’re not available.

Step 6: Apply for authorization to set up “paid for by” ad disclaimers.

For Facebook to confirm your identity, you must have two-factor authentication enabled on your account. You’ll also need the following materials available:

  • A U.S. state driver’s license, U.S. state ID card, or U.S. passport — make sure to take a clear and focused close-up picture showing all four corners on a flat, dark background
  • A U.S.-based residential mailing address
  • The last four digits of your Social Security number

Once requested, a letter containing a code to confirm your identity should arrive at your address within three to seven days. If your letter doesn’t arrive within seven days, you can request a new one here: https://www.facebook.com/id.

Step 7: Setup “paid for by” disclaimer for a Facebook page.

Advertisers have five ways to get disclaimers approved:

Advertisers will receive a “Confirmed Organization” icon on their ads if they provide a U.S. street address, phone number, business email, a matching business website, and complete one of these three options:

  • Tax-registered organization
  • Government organization
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) registered

Smaller businesses or local politicians who may not have these credentials can choose from two more options. Advertisers who go through these options will receive an “About This Ad” icon.

  • Submit an organization name (still requires a U.S. street address, business phone number, email, and matching website).
  • Give the page admin’s legal name (same as on their ID documents).

Each ad account used to fund your page’s ads about social issues, elections, or politics must be linked to your page and have a disclaimer for each.

To link your ad accounts and set up disclaimers:

  1. Go to your Facebook page and click “Settings” in the top right corner.
  2. In the list on the left, click “Authorizations.”
  3. Below Step 2: Link Your Ad Accounts, click “Begin.”
  4. Accept Facebook’s terms and conditions.
  5. Enable the ad accounts that will be used to pay for your page’s ads about social issues, elections, or politics.
  6. Click next and choose an approved disclaimer for each ad account specified.

If you want to run ads about social issues, elections, or politics on Instagram as well as Facebook, you’ll need to authorize your Instagram account.

  1. Go to your Facebook page and click “Settings” in the top right corner.
  2. In the list on the left, click “Authorizations.”
  3. Below Step 3: Authorize Your Instagram Account (Optional), click “Begin.”
  4. Check the “Review this Instagram” box.
  5. If your Instagram and page names aren’t the same, explain why in the text box.
  6. Click “Submit.”

Step 8: Confirm Facebook page settings are correct (country, city, category, about).

 

See, that wasn’t so hard, was it? With just eight simple steps you can increase user trust in your page and make it possible to engage in collaborative advocacy campaigns with your industry partners or coalitions. There’s a lot to lose for Facebook page managers who neglect to have their page authorized — and even more to gain for those who complete the process. 

 

Want to learn more? Check out this video playlist with step-by-step guides to help you complete the new Facebook ad authorization process. 

 

Can a few simple modifications to a Facebook social action drastically improve the number of supporters driven to take action?

Simple answer: Yes!

Here’s a great example of how one organization improved the performance of their Facebook social actions by 300%.

What Are Social Actions and Social Engagement?

First, let’s talk briefly about how we track social engagement on a Facebook page. Engagement is the foundation we build success on, so understanding it is key.

It’s made up of four things:

  • Likes
  • Shares
  • Comments
  • Post-clicks

Engagement is important because it influences how many people a particular action will reach on Facebook. The more engagement an action has, the more people it will reach, increasing the number of people who have the chance to take action.

Without further ado, let’s get to our example!

First, you might want to put on a couple more layers of clothes because it’s about to get chilly! We recently worked with Polar Bears International, a Montana-based organization dedicated to saving these gorgeous creatures.

polar bear header

They launched a successful social action campaign during Polar Bear Week, annually held the first week of November. The first Facebook page social action they posted inspired:

  • 1,142 people to like, share, comment and/or click on the post.
  • 161 ended up completing the action and providing their contact information.
  • Their conversion rate was 14.1%.

Given the size of their Facebook page and engagement activity, those are solid results — but we thought there was room to do even better. We analyzed that first effort and made a few simple changes to its format and content — all based on lessons from some of the best nonprofit social media managers. The results:

  • 1,980 people engaged with the content through likes, shares and comments.
  • 577 people completed the action and provided their contact information.
  • Their conversion rate was 29.1%.

Our simple little changes to the post and action increased the response rate by over 300%. How cool is that! These changes weren’t dramatic and were the kinds of things anyone can do.

The Post: Before and After

before_and_after_polar_bears

 

As you can see, the before post really isn’t too shabby. The key to social action optimization is in the fine details. There are many seemly small things you can do to optimize for success. Let’s look at how we changed the action and the seven tips you can use to get the same results, or better, on your own Facebook page.

Tip #1: Paint a Clear Call to Action.

Providing a clear call to action (CTA) early on in a post can substantially increase the chances of a person seeing and completing it. Look again at the difference between the two: See how much more our CTA communicates urgency and reward?

The vast majority of Facebook users are first seeing this while scrolling through their News Feeds on mobile devices. By immediately explaining exactly what the action is and why completing it will make a difference, we increase the number of people that follow through.

The best actions have a clear, directed target. They provide an easy explanation. Expressing urgency, having an emotional hook, and using powerful language will boost supporter engagement and participation.

Tip #2: Use Powerful Images.

Pictures are still worth a thousand words, but on the internet, pictures have the power to go much farther and faster.

See how the second post uses a more sympathetic and shareable picture? We went with vibrant colors, a clear illustration of the impending problem, and cute polar cubs with their mommy for a perfect fit.

When in doubt, you can reuse a photo that you’ve seen work before on your own Facebook page or elsewhere. Remember, the more engagement, the more potential action takers!

Tip #3: Leverage Link Posts.

There’s a growing debate about whether link posts are better than photo posts. Well, link posts generally do a better job at driving action. Users seem to prefer this format because when they click on the image of a link post, it takes them to the social action page.

For this reason, Facebook chooses to prioritize link posts, noting that these posts receive twice as many clicks. And, from a Facebook page manager’s perspective, it gives yet another opportunity to add a title and more of an action description below the image.

Use that extra real estate to your advantage!

The Social Action: Before

example-facebook-social-actions

The Social Action: After

after action cap

See how much more emotionally engaged the second is? It grabs your attention, and you can practically feel something as you read it.

Tip #4: Set Goals.

Goal-setting is an age-old trick to drive up form completion rates on online petitions. Notice that the second version of our action post set a clear goal. When a problem seems too big or overwhelming, people are less likely to respond.

Posts that have the action presented as “bite-size yet meaningful to the cause” is where we’ve seen posts and social actions gain traction. Goals make users feel like their individual actions will add up to something bigger and result in change.

Tip #5: Blatant Privacy.

People care about their privacy and their data. Right? This is the case more and more as time moves forward. The second version has an explicit privacy statement that many supporters appreciate because it tells them exactly how their data will be used.

Tip #6: Motivate Your Supporters.

If you want to TRULY understand what causes people to take action, start with yourself. In our better performing post, the language below the image is far more detailed. It presents the problem, provides a solution, and moves supporters to take action to make that solution a reality.

This action also used emotion and a sense of urgency to motivate the audience to engage and get involved.

Tip #7: Have an Explicit Button.

In the end, the button matters. See how on the second action, we revised the button to be both simpler and more straightforward? Doing so makes it clear that the person is signing a petition when they click the button — dummy-proofing at its best.

Bonus tip: Tap into comments!

For extra brownie points, Polar Bears International enabled commenting on the post-action page of the second version of their social action. This gave supporters a way to personally express themselves after completing the action. The cool thing is, every comment also shows up on their friends’ News Feeds. This helps increase virality and sharing. Moreover, people are more likely to share when they have an invested interest, which a comment helps to provide.

By making this simple change to their social action, Polar Bears International increased the number of supporters who took action on their Facebook page over the course of Polar Bear Week. With a goal of 25,000 signatures before December’s climate talks in Lima, Peru, the organization is well on its way to making a significant impact, one Facebook page user and action at a time!

Remember these tips next time you want to whip your Facebook page community into action:

  1. A Clear Call to Action
  2. User Power-Pics
  3. Leverage Link Posts
  4. Goal-setting
  5. Blatant Privacy
  6. Motivation
  7. Explicit Button
  8. Use Comments

Find out how organizations and campaigns are learning more about their supporters, growing their following and inspiring action with ActionSprout and Facebook.

It’s always great to receive a warm reception, and this is especially important when you are a candidate or volunteer knocking on a stranger’s door during election season. Nothing tops grassroots campaign efforts like in-person contact to get your message out, and ActionSprout can help you make the most out of that critical moment and improve the canvassing experience for everyone.

“[ActionSprout] is the reason why so many folks knew about Sharon when we knocked on their doors. The ‘I’ve seen her on Facebook!’ is very common while canvassing!” 

— Holly Knutson, Campaign Manager

Step 1 – Share a story a day

Begin by engaging people daily with stories that really affect them. It’s best to repost content from news sources and other Example Facebook PostFacebook pages. By framing these curated posts with a little information about your stance on the topics in the story, you can educate about your campaign platform, show that you’re engaged with the issues at play in your community and prime neighborhoods for canvassing — while also delivering a post your voters genuinely care about.

Follow topics your campaign is focused on in the Stories section of ActionSprout, and you will have a constantly refreshed feed of the best trending stories — plus you’ll also get recommended stories that are hand-curated by subject matter experts in a number of the top issue areas. 

Then, simply share the stories you like. ActionSprout will help you schedule them out over the next week, so there is always a new story ready to publish each day at the optimal time. Learn more about story curation here.

Step 2 – Prime neighborhoods with Facebook Ads

Instead of publishing specific messages at predefined points in the campaign, it’s better to use a flexible, responsive ad strategy backed by ActionSprout. Don’t sink production dollars into making a few expensive political ads; instead, use small amounts of spending to boost the daily news stories that you are posting. 

The week before a canvassing push, select people who live in neighborhoods you will be visiting using Facebook ads — your campaign and volunteers will see a big effect. These ads prime neighborhoods and soften the

Screenshot of neighborhood listground for canvassers, who will now find that many voters are already familiar with – and friendly to – the campaign. Instead of having to start from scratch, you will be able to reinforce name recognition and get deeper into your campaign platform. 

You can set up these ads very easily after scheduling a post in ActionSprout. Simply pick the neighborhoods you care about and the types of people you want to reach. For many neighborhoods, a budget as low as $20 per story can be highly effective. But no matter the size of your ads campaign, be sure you’re up to date on Facebook’s political ads standards so you don’t waste any time or money on ads no one will see.

Step 3 – On-the-ground selfies galore 

Take pictures while canvassing that include the candidate in them, and post them from your phone. What a great way to share your grassroots efforts and engage the folks you meet on-the-ground! Then, use ActionSprout to find those photos in the Timeline section, and promote them to people in those neighborhoods. Need ideas? Check out how some candidates have already mastered the ‘selfie strategy.’

Step 4 – Go further to improve the canvassing experience

If you’re aiming for the next-level insights usually reserved for large presidential campaigns, this strategy provides the data you need. With ActionSprout’s intelligent multivariate and multi-audience targeting, you can see exactly which topics and issues resonate with specific audiences in each neighborhood. And all by sharing just a story a day with your network!

Use this data to educate canvassers on what topics to talk about in each neighborhood. This helps canvassers speak to the specific needs of each neighborhood, making their interactions much more meaningful.

Ready to engage more voters? Get started by signing up for an ActionSprout account and read our 2019 Candidates Playbook for more tips and tricks.

Learn to learn how other organizations have put ActionSprout to work for their Facebook campaigns.