Republican Presidential candidate, Ben Carson, has taken the leads against seemingly unstoppable Donald Trump on the Facebook fans polls. Mr. Carson has surged to over 4.5 million Facebook fans since declaring his candidacy in May–and his aggressive campaign strategy on the social networking site could provide a window into how next year’s presidential campaign battle might unfold.
Despite the popularity and support Mr. Trump has got from his various TV series including a broad profile from his real estate wealth and fame, Dr. Carson has surged ahead of him with over 4.5 million Facebook fans, sending Trump to 4.1 million fans. The Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton has just 1.7 million fans on Facebook.
According to Erik Hawkins, group director of Facebook’s global marketing solutions team, Mr. Carson is “the most active candidate on Facebook in terms of paid and organic activity,” he said. “They’ve made it a core part of their strategy. Most of the candidates have only dipped their toes if anything.”
Confirming the polls, Mr. Ken Dawson who runs digital marketing for Mr. Carson, said the campaign has already run 240 different ads on Facebook alone–some nationally but mostly focused in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, the states where the first four Republican primaries will be help in early 2016.
“Those ads have ranged from carrying messages designed to introduce the still-relatively-new candidate to voters, to those meant to encourage fundraising to straight up get-out-the-vote messages. As part of that effort, Mr. Carson is running many 10-to-15-second video ads on Facebook. Carson even regularly goes on Facebook himself and interacts with potential voters—a move Mrs. Clinton has also tried on a few occasions,” he said.
Mr. Dawson also said that he has also tried YouTube ads so far, but they haven’t nearly been as effective as Facebook ads, due to some targeting limitations. The campaign only just started running its first TV ads a few weeks ago. He revealed that while Carson’s marketing team is also active on Twitter and has been running paid search ads on Google, the largest percentage of Mr. Carson’s media activity continues to be focused on Facebook.
One of the campaign ads on Facebook shows a photo of Carson soliciting for endorsement as the President during the 2016 presidential race with a promise of a free window Sticker in return. This wave of political campaigning using Facebook has ushered in a new vista of cost-effective opportunities for political aspirants to reach their target voters more than the TV platform has offered.
Although political experts have long believed in the power of TV to persuade the undecided voter in favour of a candidate as well as the Wall Street Journal reported a few months ago that 2016 presidential campaign spending on TV was up almost 900% through mid-August from the same point in 2012, Mr. Dawson however noted that “Facebook allows for precision ad targeting, and lets his campaign to use that tactic “at a fraction of the cost in TV.”
The Carson campaign is even able to target ads on Facebook to specific people who make donations to the candidate in real life. “We’re able to target specific households,” said Dawson. Facebook is often the center of political conversation for many Americans. In the first 10 months of this year, over 68 million people in the U.S. posted, liked, commented on or shared content related to the election on Facebook–over a billion times.
Since the last presidential campaign, Facebook has become a monster video player–which may help it appeal to old-school political consultants who love classic TV ads.