You can now advertise on Facebook only to your members

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An increasing number of unions are advertising on Facebook, either through the “traditional” sidebar ads or through promoted posts.

Thanks to changes to Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm, more and more unions and progressive campaigning organisations are being forced to advertise to reach their fans and supporters. The targeting for those ads has always been somewhat mysterious; it’s a black box which has lead to accusations that Facebook ads are a waste of money or even a scam.

What if you wanted to send a highly targeted call-to-action to your existing members (or supporters) using Facebook? It’s possible, and could prove very effective.

You could also target your lapsed members, retired members, delegates or activists, campaign supporters or prospective members — all through Facebook. You can even target people who have visited your website or a specific page on your website (e.g. your campaign petition page).

The way to do this is to use the “custom audience” feature.

Because these people are already aware of your union or campaign, it means that they are more likely to convert. You can also improve the relevance of your ads by targeting specific segments of your membership or supporter database.

All you need is their email address or mobile number.

What does it mean for your union’s campaigns?

The “custom audience” feature is pretty useful, and as a union communicator you should start to learn how to use it as a targeted alternative to the standard boosting/advertising. Using “custom audience”, you could

  • Re-engage with former members or supporters to promote a new event or campaign.
  • Encourage potential members to join your union.
  • Promote a post to members of a specific workplace which relates to a campaign they are involved with.
  • Announce the launch of a campaign or general union event; you could also target previous participants or target those past participants who have not yet registered (to announce the close of entries).
  • Acquire fans for your page that are already members or supporters. That way you are consistently engaging with them to reinforce your messaging, compliment other campaigning activities and engage them to become more involved and active with your union.

A lot of unions hope to reach their existing members on Facebook. The “custom audience” tool means you can advertise for likes to only your existing members.

Creative campaigners and communicators will no doubt think of many other uses for this feature.

How does it work?

You build your “custom audience” by email or mobile phone numbers, using the Facebook Power Editor tool. Facebook matches the email addresses against the list of users to build that audience.

This does mean that you’re uploading a list of your members or supporters to Facebook in order for Facebook to cross-reference it and build a list for you to advertise to.

To use the website re-targeting feature, you’ll also need to install tracking code on your website. Your web developer should be able to do this easily for you, and for open-source CMSs there are plugins.

If you have ethical issues with this, it is something that your union will have to talk about internally. The terms of use for this tool are here. According to the TOS, Facebook deletes the data you upload to it after it completes the matching process, and only retains unique Facebook IDs.

Get started

As I wrote earlier, I’ve seen a lot of unions use promoted posts or ads for their campaigns. Most of it seems to be very simplistically (if at all) targeted, or preoccupied with vanity metrics.

Custom audiences allow you to narrow-cast your Facebook messages and calls to action like never before.

3 responses to “You can now advertise on Facebook only to your members”

  1. matt Avatar

    G’day Alex, very useful post. Do you know if nation builder has tracking?

    1. Alex Avatar

      Hi Matt, I’m not the biggest fan of Nationbuilder in the world, and my personal experience with it suggests that it wouldn’t have inbuilt pixel tracking. However, you’d be able to use the webhook feature.

      1. matt Avatar

        Thanks Alex, yes I agree that NB is not the best tool but it’s the one that the ALP appears to have decided to invest in over the short to medium term so it’s what we’re stuck with. I’ll check it out.

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