How Nonprofit Businesses Can Overcome Facebook’s Political Ads Ban During Giving Season

by Jacob Shibley | December 3, 2020

Facebook’s policy on political advertising related to the 2020 election is still in effect, and it has wide-ranging implications for businesses around the country, whether or not ad content is explicitly related to elections.

“The temporary pause for ads about politics and social issues in the US continues to be in place as part of our ongoing efforts to protect the election,” A Nov. 11 update from the social media giant reads. “Advertisers can expect this to last another month, though there may be an opportunity to resume these ads sooner. We’ll notify advertisers when this pause is lifted.”

This policy, which is intended to limit the spread of misinformation related to the census, the election and voting efforts around the country, affects what any brand page can say in paid advertisements. And this ban may not be the last to be implemented by a major social network.

This does not mean your company has to stop advertising on Facebook. Especially during a crucial giving season for so many nonprofit organizations. There are solutions for nonprofits under this ban and similar policies in the future.

Who does the Facebook political ads ban impact?

This policy will extend beyond specifics regarding any particular political candidate. Any company that plans to advertise with content that mentions social issues or politics will be impacted by this temporary Facebook policy. That includes climate change, healthcare, affordable housing and many more topics. 

The holiday season is a time when nonprofits and other companies that work in “political” areas cannot afford to stop advertising on social media. Twenty-six percent of annual transaction volume comes from Giving Tuesday to Dec. 31, according to Classy’s State of Modern Philanthropy 2020 study. No philanthropic organization can afford to sit out of giving season.

And remember: this policy also applies to Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

Read more: Don’t Make These Mistakes on Your Next Paid Social Media Campaign

How should nonprofit businesses navigate political ad ban policies during giving season?

When the 2020 Facebook policy expires, nonprofits can unleash the full power of Facebook Ads. Until then, there are some workarounds. 

Test other channels

Advertising on YouTube and Google Display can help make up for a lower-than-anticipated gain from Facebook. If you haven’t tested these channels for your organization yet, doing so during this kind of ban is an excellent time. With Google’s robust targeting capabilities, you should be able to find your same audiences in new places. These channels may or may not perform as well as political Facebook ads, but at the very least you should be able to drive awareness and website traffic that you can capitalize on once you’re able to run again with Facebook.

Write less blunt, non-political donation ads for Facebook

Facebook’s temporary policy does not prohibit any specific page from posting. Instead, this policy applies to the specific language a page uses when it posts. At Silverback, we’ve stood up fundraising campaigns that say “Donate to help our nonprofit” as opposed to “Donate to help us work to solve climate change”.

This helpful chart from Facebook helps explain what’s allowed during their policy and what isn’t.

Take advantage of your landing pages

While it might be harder to discuss the issues on the Facebook platform, you can still use your landing page to have your strong value propositions heard.

An effective landing page should highlight real stories that serve as the creative for your ad campaign. Real stories are a powerful way to highlight a need — and the encouragement to donate or get involved can live within the longform story on your site rather than in your ad copy. 

Read more: How to Align Paid and Creative Teams for Amazing Campaigns

Additionally, you should make a distinct effort to ensure these visitors have a good user experience and that calls to action are readily available. This ensures the traffic you are able to drive to your site will have the best conversion rate possible.

Lean on previously exposed audiences

If your target audience has already interacted with your brand — by going to your site, interacting with previous ads or following your social media accounts — they already have crucial context about your organization and your mission. Take advantage of this and make ad copy more vague.

For example, an ad that reads “Donate to help us work to solve climate change” won’t fly at the moment. But an image of a polar bear combined with your profile name and simpler ad copy, such as “Help us create a brighter future,” can still drive home the message. Think of the elements of your ad as pieces of a broader puzzle. Instead of using all of your ad copy to convey obvious information, you can use it to tie together broad themes that stay within the requirements of Facebook’s current policy.

Embrace your existing audience

Facebook’s policy applies to your company page, but it doesn’t apply to individual Facebook users. Your company can bring its existing audience into the fold and let them say the things your company can’t right now. 

Create content that gets your audience involved. Encourage them to join in by using a hashtag, a profile picture frame or sharing a story from your site. Their participation can extend your organic reach and get your company in front of new potential donors.

You can also use your first party data on Facebook and while testing other platforms. Past donors or email acquisitions will always be the most likely to donate or take action. On a new platform like YouTube, this list will give you your best shot at success early on.

Read more: Stale Facebook Creative? Use These Ad Formats More

Furthermore, you’re able to create Similar Audiences for YouTube or Google Display. If you’re familiar with Lookalike Audiences on Facebook, these work exactly the same way, finding the portion of users that behave most similarly to your target list online.

Facebook’s political ads ban doesn’t have to ruin your company’s giving season.

This Facebook policy makes for a giving season that’s far from ideal for any company looking to make a dent in their yearly goal. But these tactics should help you make the most of the current situation and have your business ready to go full throttle once the policy ends.

Silverback Strategies helps companies navigate today’s paid media environment with data-driven solutions.

At Silverback Strategies, we craft paid media campaigns that account for today’s complicated customer journey across many platforms, devices and touchpoints. From ad placement and keyword targeting to creative and copy, each component of our paid media program is designed with our clients’ growth goals in mind and optimized regularly to achieve results.

To rise above the competition and get the attention of today’s consumers, you’ll need tailored and targeted campaigns that are built with your organization’s goals in mind.

Contact us today to learn more.

Jacob Shibley

Jacob is a senior paid media team lead focused on driving measurable results for his team's B2B, Professional Services, Nonprofit, Education, & other lead gen-focused clients.

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