It’s time for you to say goodbye to the Facebook boost button.
Yes, you read that right. And I know what you’re thinking – my members and supporters won’t see our thoughtful and important posts without ad dollars behind them. While there is some truth to that, relying on the boost button reveals a deeper problem: your union doesn’t have a digital ads strategy, and it needs one.
With social media advertising on track to surpass television advertising for the first time in 2022, digital ads should be taking centre stage in every union’s ad strategy.
For many unions, advertising can be an effective tactic ahead of bargaining, or during political action campaigns. TV, radio, and billboards are what come to mind – big, splashy campaigns designed to have a big impact in a short time. In between those big campaign moments, the boost button helps you keep your Facebook content in front of the right people. Right? Actually, not so much. Boosting should never be part of your social media strategy and here’s why:
When you boost a post on Facebook, you’re basically just asking Meta to show your content to your followers. The thing is, good organic content should be seen by your followers anyway and if it’s not, you have a different problem to solve.
There are also some technical limitations to boosting. Specifically, it doesn’t let you do a lot when it comes to targeting an audience and doesn’t allow you to share your content beyond your existing followers. Basically, why would you pay Facebook to do what it already does?
There are some really powerful tools that can make sure your message is heard in a cost effective way, including Google Ads and Facebook Ads Manager. Using these tools, you can create content that is designed to achieve specific goals like signing up for info sessions, subscribing to email lists, taking advocacy actions, participating in contests and surveys and so on and so on.
The truth is, boosting is a bad idea no matter how you look at it. But, there are ways to pull together an effective digital ads strategy with big and small budgets alike.
Every union – be they a national union or a regional local – should have an ongoing digital ads strategy in place, helping to ensure member communications, public engagement, and new member organizing are getting the attention they deserve. Here are three things your ads strategy should include:
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Google Search Advertising. Your union should be running search ads 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, helping members (and potential members) find you and your outreach team. Search ads are cheap and can be particularly helpful in amplifying your message when your union gets earned media. It’s also a great tool for new member organizing – helping people who want to form a union in their workplace find the answer to “how do I join a union” – and giving your organizing department strong organizing leads.
Hint: Businesses are taking up a lot of space in the paid search arena. There’s a big opportunity for your union to be found and heard from by being present in paid search.
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Retargeting ads. You probably know what retargeted ads are even if you’ve never heard the term. You know the ones – you visit CanadianTire.ca checking out a tool, and then for days after you see ads everywhere you go for that very tool.
This is retargeting – serving ads based on a user’s past behavior. And they can be a great way to engage your members and supporters.
First, make sure you’re set up with tracking pixels on your union and campaign websites so you can retarget visitors. Whether that’s the union’s member resource centre or an important campaign issue – you want to be able to passively follow up with your people.
Second, consider a low-cost, ongoing retargeting strategy, reminding your members of the resources that are available through the union, and engaging campaign supporters to take the next step for public advocacy.
You can run retargeted ads on nearly any platform – make sure you’re set up to take advantage of this powerful technology.
Lead generation ads. From organizing to political action to staying connected with your members, you should always be building and updating your lists. Lead generation ads are a great way to help do this.
Make sure you always have a variety of action pages – be that a petition, a new member sign-up for info page, or a New/Mode action page. More options mean more actions that allow members and supporters to engage your union.
Every sign-up is an opportunity to grow your public-facing supporter list, or keep your membership data fresh as people move, change cell phones, or get a new email address.
Set a monthly ads budget. Ads can be easy to do – but not every union has the capacity to do this work in-house. Consider talking to your communications or digital firm about an on-going ads strategy to support member engagement, organizing, and political action. Early investments mean that when your union needs to take on a fight – you’re starting from a place of strength.
Savanna Pelech is Metric’s Digital Manager.
Michael Roy is Metric’s Managing Director and Founding Partner.