Facebook Marketing to the (Lunatic) Political Fringe

Labor Day is over and the final push for Midterm Elections is here, with the media & candidates whipping up political parties into a polarizing frenzy. Whether you are a divisive mastermind looking to stir the crazy pot or a candidate hoping to clear up some slung mud, political Facebook ads are your friends amongst foes.

Facebook ads are the ubiquitous, often redundant, paid placements in the right column of users’ interface. Advertisers’ ability to laser target users online has some legislators, including Sen. Claire McCaskill (MO), calling it downright “creepy” and seeking Internet privacy. As marketers, it’s important to understand and identify the ways in which Facebook users self-reveal their deep roots. It’s not just cut-and-dry as “Republican” or “not.” An application download or FB group membership can speak volumes of where users sit on the political fence.

Advertisers can exploit leverage the passionate political extremes to sell, persuade, petition, and brand in social spaces. As you may imagine, targeting the passionately-divided with messages that either reinforce ideals or strongly questions beliefs can incite a click-frenzy. Perhaps campaign managers should take some notes.

Targeting users by political party is not as simple as checking a box in Facebook’s targeting field. The good news: Facebook explicitly asks for political party information while users are creating a bio, so there’s a good chance they’ve nonchalantly included this information in their profile.

Get set to spend some time, get a  little creative and reap the rewards of these passionate political segments.

Start by typing “Republican” or “GOP” into the Facebook Likes/Interest targeting bucket until it barely resembles a word.

Republican Interests on Facebook

Self-Identified Straight Republicans on Facebook

Self-Identified Homosexual Republicans on Facebook

Why the sexual orientation division? Say you’re running a campaign to keep Proposition 8 out of legislation– these Republicans may be more likely to hop on your wagon than heterosexual Republicans. Maybe. Besides, I was curious.

Once more through the wringer for the “Democrat” segment:

Democrat Interest on Facebook

Straight Democrats on Facebook

Homosexual Democrats on Facebook

After exhausting the political party names,  consider what other names these folks might call themselves. Republicans, Conservatives. Democrats, Liberals. Let’s call the whole thing off & get to work.

Conservatives on Facebook

Liberals on Facebook

Pulling the Swing Vote in Facebook
Politicians know it’s not about swaying the staunch Republican or “bleeding-heart” Liberal. Voters with a mixed political standpoint are where you get the most bang for your buck.

It’s clear the Conservatives are dominating the Facebook space, but it’s significant to consider what issues matter to each political party.

What Political Parties on Facebook Like
What do Republicans/Conservatives love? The Bible!

And how about those “Godless Liberals”… chances are folks in favor of marijuana legalization lean to the left more than the Bible beaters readers.

Back to Republicans/Conservatives. Think hard: they like “Traditional Marriages.”

Flip those interests and you get the Democrat/Liberal stance: users who sport marriage equality and the repeal of Prop 8 in California.

Often in politics, it’s not about what you like… but what you don’t like.

The polarizing flavor of the month seems to be the mosk mosque Muslim Cultural Center set to be built on near Ground Zero.

Facebook Users Against a Mosque at Ground Zero

Just a wild guess, but I’d assume they’re more politically conservative than these folks:

A week ago, less than 20 people on Facebook approved of the “Mosque Near Ground Zero.” Ouch. It stands to note, however, that this is a fairly new political hot button– mere months old. We checked back seven days later:

Facebook Users Who Support a “Mosque” at Ground Zero

What a difference a week makes.

Going After Political Enemies
What do these two parties hate more than anything? The enemy. They hate each other.

And, boy, do they hate opposing political representatives.

But don’t forget the pom-pom squads for individual politicians. There are plenty of Conservative Facebook users who like George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal & the Outspoken Joe Wilson etc.

And there are over 200,000 Facebook Fans of the Conservative Poster Child, Ronald Reagan.

Still, a hefty sum of Users on Facebook like President Clinton and Senator Clinton.

And over 2 Million Supporters of President Barack Obama on Facebook.

Don’t stop there. People who like political pundits or slanted news programs also reveal deep political party affiliations.

Facebook Users Who Like “Fair and Balanced” Conservative Political Pundits & Shows

Facebook Users Who Like Liberal Political Pundits & Shows

A word to the wise: if you only go after ballot party lines, you are skimming the the mere surface of the sea of politically-charged members on Facebook. Marketers cannot assume individuals identify themselves so simply. The ways people reveal their affiliations to one political party or another are as plentiful and diverse as the persons themselves– from pundits to deep-rooted issues to notorious poster children. Be a marketer. Do your research (even if that means watching Glenn Beck…) and who knows, you may sway the next election.

Banner Image Credit to: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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