#AskBurges: Facebook banned political ads for a time. They could do so again. So, what comes next?



By Margaret Reiser, Assistant Media Buyer


Ohio voters will elect mayors, city council and school board members, and consider local levies this year – all fitting races to use geo- and micro-targeted social media ads. But the ability to target voters via social media could change in an instant. Facebook just recently lifted their political ad ban, which began immediately after the presidential election of 2020. The nearly four-month-long ban was pressured into being by the growing fear in the spread of misinformation on the platform, fear that grew even more after the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. Any additional pressure and there’s a chance Facebook could implement a new ban period, ultra-restrictive policies, or do away with political ads all together.


Facebook has long been one of the first stops for campaign promotion, thanks to its broad audience and cost-effective approach. The significance of Facebook and its political ads skyrocketed in 2020 due to the global pandemic when most political campaigns ceased in-person events, door-knocking efforts, and other grassroots activities for the health and safety of voters and volunteers. For campaigns, Facebook ads were an ideal way to hyper-target voters and receive high performance rates – all with a minimal budget. But what do you do when you can’t advertise on Facebook?


More than ever, local campaigns need to focus additional time and effort in fostering organic engagement and support on social media. Facebook remains one of the leading social media platforms in the world, especially for older adults. In fact, among Americans 65 and older, nearly half use Facebook – and more than half of registered U.S. voters are now ages 50 or older. A campaign’s Facebook page is an online space to nurture grassroots backing, for supporters to stay up to date on campaign news and find opportunities to get involved, to connect with other supporters, and find content to share with family and friends. Basically, you are building an interactive online community that revolves around your candidate or issue.


This year, instead of relying on buying page likes and boosting posts with ad dollars to spread awareness, spend time connecting with your followers and empowering them to like, comment, and share your message with their friends and family. Energize your followers to invite their Facebook friends to like the campaign page, declare why they are voting for your candidate or issue, share their photos of volunteering for the campaign, and tag your page when they post about the upcoming election. This organic engagement will boost your page’s reach and credibility with voters.


If you have money in your budget and are looking for a cost-effective way to reach additional voters, there is an array of digital advertisements you may want to consider beyond social media. Digital advertising allows campaigns to hyper-target at a fraction of the cost of more-traditional media (e.g., TV, radio, billboards). An ad network is a great way to follow the target audience wherever they go, so long as the sites are reputable. Ads are placed across all devices (desktop, mobile, tablet, etc.) and on local and national websites for a fraction of the cost, thanks to real-time-bidding.


Whether you need help strategizing your social media plan and content or setting up your digital advertising campaign, Burges & Burges Strategists is here to help. Send us an email or call our office at (216) 261-3737.