Did you know that there’s a company that specializes in Facebook promotions for members of Congress?
Meet iConstituent, of Washington, D.C. We spoke to the company’s Marketing and New Media manager, Andrew Foxwell, by phone and email to learn more about how the company collaborates with congressional offices to maximize their Facebook use.
How did iConstituent get its start? And in what ways does iConstituent work with members of Congress?
iConstituent got its start in 2000 and was formed by a group of interactive software experts in California for the purpose of improving constituent communications.
We are now the largest provider of online communications to members of Congress, serving over 300 members from every corner of the U.S., with over 60 online advertising clients in the House of Representatives.
We work with House members on Facebook advertisements, along with helping them connect their online inbound and outbound communication assets to their social media presence, thus creating a 360 approach to constituent communication, which improves our democracy by making it more interactive and constituent service focused.
In your experience, how much time are members and their staff devoting to Facebook?
It depends on each office, but members and their staff are spending more and more time on Facebook as they see it as a critical channel for real time interaction between constituents and their representative.
Since something like 42 percent of U.S. adults are now on Facebook, it’s essential that our representative government turns to this medium. Staff time is also not just spent answering comments and questions on members’ pages, but creating rich content for the pages that engages their respective constituencies.
What are the biggest challenges that members of Congress face in terms of Facebook? What issues need to be considered when an organization creates a Facebook or social media policy?
Some of the biggest challenges for members go along with not broadening their presence as much as they could, which is why I believe we’ve seen a large uptick in members doing Facebook advertisements. I also believe a challenge is creating innovative ways to communicate with their constituents. Answering questions is good that come in on a member’s wall, but what’s the next step in terms of communication?
For example, I have heard of a few members lately recording video responses to constituent letters and posting it on their Facebook profile. It’s this type of thing that is a challenge for finding what works.
What are some effective Facebook tips you can offer based on your experience with Members of Congress? Can you offer suggestions for launching an effective Facebook ad campaign?
Facebook advertisements along with Facebook strategy both have similar tenets of success. It’s all about ensuring that your message is timely and that you’re A-B testing. I also wholeheartedly believe in running advertisements that ask questions, bringing constituent engagement to
For example, if you run an ad or ask a question on your profile page pertaining to a recent speech by the President, you’re going to see a higher interaction rate that creates an online dialogue directly into the halls of Congress.
Furthermore, A-B testing works miracles through being innovative with messaging and photos. We have the ability to know what messages work, so invest in ads that work and keep going with a results-based approach. With the new targeting options that are available (zip-code targeting, as well as hashtag targeting) it’s about ensuring you get results and don’t pay for things that do not work.
We have been successful with this mantra, as the zipcode targeting is nearly doubling click through rates and the hashtag targeting has been helpful as well for having a broad but targeted approach.