Facebook’s decision to resume its political and advocacy advertising program earlier this month was greeted with open arms by campaign pros in Louisiana. While there have always been other options, Facebook remains one of the strongest vehicles for reaching potential voters digitally and targeting them based on geography, demographics and a multitude of other interests.
For candidates on the ballot in Louisiana this weekend, it was an especially big deal. The biggest winners, however, are the local-level candidates who need a serious bang for their stretched bucks, according to Jason Hebert, a partner at the Political Firm. “In smaller, municipal races, particularly for those campaigns that cannot access television or cable advertising, this could be the difference-maker,” Hebert says.
He says he hopes the blackout period encouraged those in his trade to try new venues for messaging and to experiment. “It reminded just how much value that marketplace has,” he says.
Digital consultant Madeline V. Twomey, who most recently worked for the campaign of President Joe Biden, tweeted recently that consultants should take the blackout as a signal to think beyond business as usual. After all, the blackout could happen again. “Our industry is too reliant on the one platform for too much: raising money, reaching voters,” Twomey tweeted. “And as we’ve seen—it can be taken away in an instant. The upside of the ad ban was the willingness to innovate and explore new ways of doing our work (including breaking out of archaic department silos. A voter doesn’t differentiate between an email, an ad and a volunteer call. Neither should we).”
On the advocacy front, the change allows groups that are on tight budgets to catch up on their communications goals, says Top Drawer Strategies’ Mary-Patricia Wray, who is currently running ad campaigns on criminal justice reform, infrastructure and education issues. “Digital is a great way to make up for lost time when you need to,” she says. “Having social media promotions back up and running means we can get issue-based campaigns in front of legislators in a major way and drive communications between constituents and legislators on important bills and topics just in time for the session.”
They said it: “When women are not at the table and seated, we are typically on the menu.”—State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson of New Orleans, a candidate in the 2nd Congressional District, on CNN.