How to build your following and get connected

After how easy it was to get started, prepare for the slightly harder work. Building up your page following does take some effort and attention. It does help if within your project group you're able to find a bit of time to work quite actively at building the profile of your page, to gain more followers and help you gather energy and buzz for your campaign.

Cross-promote your new page in other media

  • pls_rt.pngAre any members of your group on Twitter? If so, you can all announce your new group in a tweet. Include the Facebook page URL and a bit of explanation. Add "pls RT", "please RT" or, if you have enough characters, "please retweet" to the end of your tweet. This reminds people to help you out by sharing!
  • Add the name of the group and its URL to the signatures of any email accounts you're using for campaigning. 
  • Send the details of your page to the editors of any appropriate local political or community mailings or magazines (including internal ones within groups), and ask them to include them in their very next communication. Also ask them to update their websites! (You might need to email a different person, possibly at a different address, for this.)
  • Don't forget to post the link to your new page on your personal Facebook page! And don't forget to add some covering text explaining that you're personally involved, and maybe why it's important to you.
  • Ask other Stop the Tories 2017 pages, including the central page with over 4500 followers, to give your page a shout-out!
Got a post you're particularly pleased with or which has become popular? Feel free to send other friendly pages the odd DM, asking if they can share your post. 

Interact with and support other relevant Facebook pages

First, jot down a quick list of any existing Facebook pages you know about which might be friendly to your campaign - most particularly the ones that are local to you, if you're a local group, or like-minded if you're a community of interest.

Some examples... (Big cities tend to have many of these groups; there might not be so many of them in some more rural and suburban areas, but do have a hunt anyway!)

  • Anti-austerity groups
  • Disability campaign groups
  • Mental health campaign groups
  • NHS campaign groups
  • Anti-racism/pro-refugee/pro-immigration groups
  • Young people's campaign groups
  • Women's/feminist campaign/political groups
  • Anti-poverty groups
  • Homelessness campaign groups
  • LGBTQ campaign/political groups
  • Environmentalist groups
  • Progressive religious groups (Quakers, other left-wing Christian groupings, socially engaged Buddhist groups, socially engaged Muslim groups etc)
  • Trade union contacts

In every area, it's well worth finding the local political parties too, whether you're a party-political person or not. Local political parties contain good community activists and people who want to make a difference!

  • Local Labour Parties
  • Local Lib Dem parties
  • Local Green Parties
  • Local SNP/Plaid Cymru branch
  • Local Momentum branches
  • Radical-left groups

"Like as your page" - a valuable tool

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Once you know some of the Facebook pages you want to connect with, you will want to follow them as your page, which also shows your support:

  • Go to the Facebook page you want to like.
  • Just underneath their cover photo (at the top) is a row of buttons. Click the last button, the three dots ... 
  • Then select Like as your page.

Once you're finished liking groups as your page, Facebook provides an easy way for you to keep track, whenever you want, of what's being posted by all of the pages your page is following:

  • Go to your page. Down the right hand side, underneath your number of page likes, select the option See Pages Feed. 
It's a good idea to check your pages feed regularly if you can:pages_feed.jpg
  • The feed should be a rich source of inspiration for what you can publish posts about - or just what you can share from allied groups.
  • As well as sharing your favourite posts, it's generally good to 'like' posts by other pages if they're about something #StopTheTories can support. While you're in your pages feed, you will be liking "as" your page, not as yourself - your own name will not appear in the likes list, but the name of your page will. 'Liking' a post is the equivalent of giving your horn a supportive honk as you drive past a demo. The group who own the page, and their Facebook followers, will sometimes notice and appreciate your support!
  • Comment as your page if you see a good opportunity. If it's appropriate to share some of your own news as a comment on the other page's post, then go ahead. Please don't spam anyone inappropriately, it doesn't help.

Other ways of connecting through Facebook itself

Stitched_together_post_as_page.pngMost community pages on Facebook will allow visitors to post something to the page. It will probably not go in the main feed of the page, but in the "Visitor Posts" section down the right-hand side. However, posts there do sometimes get some attention and interaction, and can definitely be worthwhile. It will also generate a notification to the admins of the other page that you've posted on their page, which can be good for awareness-building:

  • Go to the other Facebook page you want to post on.
  • Find the text box near the top of the page to Write something on this page...
  • In the top right-hand corner of this box, will be a small down arrow. Click it.
  • A drop-down menu will appear. Click on the name of your page.
  • You will now be posting as your page, not as an individual.

When you receive a positive comment on a post on your page, or when someone posts a supportive/helpful visitor post on your page, it can be nice to interact back:

  • It only takes a second to click 'like' on that post. By default you will be liking the post as your page, not as yourself. The person who interacted with your post will then know that you appreciated it.
  • If you think there's something to say in response to the post, go ahead!
You may receive direct messages. These will appear on your page in the ribbon immediately below the Facebook status and search bar.
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  • People who reach out to you might be interested in helping your campaign! It's a good idea to reply quickly if you can and always be friendly.
  • Facebook shows on your page your response rate and response time for direct messages. People will be more likely to reach out to you if it looks like you're good at responding.
  • So,. if you receive abusive or trolling messages, it's still a good idea for your Facebook reply percentage to send the troll one reply and then ignore them, rather than ignore their first message totally. (It doesn't really matter what your reply is, the one word "whatever" would be fine, don't waste time on it!)

Still no substitute for gathering and using email addresses...

Email might sometimes seem like almost old-fashioned technology to some, but it's still a major tool for building a campaign.

It's a good idea to set up a Gmail account for your campaign. That means that you can share access to the emails you generate with other members of your project group. This avoids problems if one person, perhaps the group creator, becomes unexpectedly unavailable at any point for any reason.

It will help the growth of your campaign a lot if you can reach a bunch of relevant groups by email with information about what you're doing, and ask them to forward the email to others who may be interested.

Note: Collecting the email addresses to write to takes a bit of time! It's a good idea to ask around in your project group as soon as you can to see if anyone can volunteer for this task.

Think carefully about what your email is going to say - this is critical!

  • Mention something about who you are, and who any others in your group are, if you reckon this is relevant and helpful.
  • It's probably a good idea to mention your project group, with the URL.
  • You can also mention your public Facebook page and give the URL. Try to make the difference clear between the closed project group and the public page, because this can easily confuse people. 
  • Are you aiming to make anti-Tory flyers available? If so, how should people express their interest in obtaining flyers?
  • Are you running a crowdfund? If so, what's it for, and how do people donate?
  • What kinds of help are you looking for? How do people express an interest in getting involved with your campaigning activities?
  • How should campaigners share THEIR information with you? What can you do with it?

It's probably a good idea to get colleagues in your project group to look over your big email and contribute feedback and ideas before you send it out.

Also, consider sending a different version of your email to different recipients, if you can make the approaches more personal that way.

It's generally a good idea to enter all the email addresses you're writing to in the Bcc: box of your 'Compose email' window, not the To: box. You have to enter one address in the To: box, so enter your own address. That way, you're not revealing anyone's email address to anyone else, any more than you would do if you were sending a pile of envelopes in the paper mail.

Make sure that someone in your group is watching for replies to your emails, and has the time to follow up if you successfully generate some response!