Politicians have been effectively using Facebook over the last election cycle, and now the company is moving deeper into government. Today, Facebook launched a “Facebook and Government” Page featuring best practices for how politicians and government bodies can use Facebook. Near the top, there are mentions of a new NATO Page and a “White House Live” presidential video stream widget.
It’s not clear how far Facebook is planning to go with its government efforts. The company has informally worked with politicians and other government types to help them understand how to make the most of the site. Indeed, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes helped organize the social media parts of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign last year. For example, it was the first presidential campaign to launch Facebook Connect support — early in the campaign, in the fall of 2008. Obama’s campaign went on to trounce opponents in terms of Facebook fans, with his Page getting nearly four million fans by the time he took office in January. At least during the presidential election last year, the Republican Party seemed less focused on using the site. However, party representatives have rejected claims that it was not making a clear and somewhat successful effort to reach users on the site.
Facebook is not just about national campaigns, though. Smaller-time politicians, like a 23-year old who won himself a spot in the Maine state house of representatives last fall, in part by gaining supporters on Facebook.
So, if nothing else, this new Page is an easy way for Facebook to get the word out about using its site for politicking. As we saw in 2008, Facebook is becoming an increasingly important communications platform for political candidates and public figures around the world – and next year’s midterm elections in the United States will likely illustrate how Facebook is becoming even more important at the state and local levels.