How Facebook Helped Rahm Emanuel Win Chicago Race

As the Republican presidential primary in Florida gets underway today, Facebook's U.S. Politics page highlights the role that the social network played in Rahm Emanuel's campaign.

As the Republican presidential primary in Florida gets underway today, Facebook’s U.S. Politics page highlights the role that the social network played in the Chicago mayoral race in November, 2010.

When Rahm Emanuel stepped down as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff to run for mayor of Chicago, time was short as he had to move back to his hometown and launch a formal campaign.

Once Emanuel’s staff and his digital team at Bully Pulpit Interactive realized Facebook could supplement more traditional campaigning, the team identified three areas where social media could make an impact:

  1. Informing voters about campaign news, events, and Emanuel’s daily activities;
  2. Driving voter actions, including attendance at Emanuel’s campaign events and increasing the rate of campaign donations; and
  3. Maximizing voter participation on election day.

The campaign’s Facebook page featured what’s become the norm for candidates’ position papers: advertising to encourage Facebook likes, photos of events and information about Emanuel.

His staff also tested campaign messages on Facebook to figure out what might work in other communications channels.

Although Emanuel ran with little to no serious competition in the mayoral race, the results of the social media campaign are still impressive:

  • 30 percent of Emanuel’s voters interacted with his campaign online, with Facebook comprising most of the online strategy;
  • 87 percent of visits from social media channels to Rahm’s website came from Facebook; and
  • He doubled his fan base in Chicago to 65,000, who together have 2.5 million Chicago Facebook friends who potentially saw stories about Rahm in their news feeds.