Rick Perry's Campaign: Facebook Is Not A Gimmick

We spoke with a Facebook strategist for Texas Governor Rick Perry's presidential campaign.

Ryan Gravatt, a former journalist who recently joined the Rick Perry for President campaign, talked with us about Facebook strategy in the Republican presidential primary.

How will the campaign’s approach to Facebook differ from the other GOP candidates?

We are going to stay focused on genuine interaction and conversations that reinforce relationships that Governor Perry builds while he campaigns.

He is a tireless campaigner and he enjoys people and mingling with crowds. It’s a quality that sets him apart from other candidates, and because of this, people bond with him when they meet him.

Facebook is a great platform for our campaign to push a message in Governor Perry’s voice to his supporters.

So, when they read a post from our campaign, whether it’s on Twitter or Facebook, it reinforces the connection people have with him and with each other as supporters of a terrific Republican.

Will your social media strategy differ from the approach used in the Governor’s 2010 campaign?

It’s always evolving to take advantage of the current situation. No doubt, we will connect with more and more supporters on Facebook. However, I’m not concerned with follower numbers. I’m more concerned with our social reach on Facebook.

I measure our current reach and engagement numbers on Facebook. While audience size helps improve those numbers, so does the quality of those connections. A giant Facebook audience does no good if it’s dormant. I like where we are with quality and social reach on Facebook, and I’ll be looking daily to improve that.

In 2010, we wondered whether numbers really mattered. Now that we know the quality of the engagement matters more than numbers, we’re going to focus on that.

How will the Perry campaign use Facebook? What tactics will you employ to boost engagement?

Well, social networking and Facebook are perhaps the most complementary online tools for Governor Perry.

In this campaign we are going to continue to make sure our online activity bolsters the message Governor Perry delivers — let’s get America working again.

We’ll never treat the social network as a gimmick and we’ll never take those relationships for granted.

Governor Perry wants to connect with as many voters as possible and he understands that Facebook allows him to do that. Of course, he’d rather sit with each and everyone of them for coffee and talk about politics, college football and barbeque, but we just can’t let him do that. He would, if the schedule allowed, but we have to keep him moving.

How large is the campaign’s Facebook team?

Everyone on the campaign is on Facebook, and everyone is allowed to say what they think we need to do on Facebook. There’s no closet of gurus or experts on this campaign.

So, a handful of us are responsible for the page content, but there are no walls. We’re all thinking about social media and the best ways to capitalize on it. Some of us vet the ideas, but for the most part great ideas come from all over the campaign — from Governor Perry, from staff, and from supporters.

What kind of skills do you think are necessary to be successful in social media on a presidential campaign?

Quick wit, confidence to seize the day, good spelling and polished mass communication experience.

Do you have any favorite Facebook applications or tools you are enthusiastic about?

We’re building a couple of our own that are unique. So stay tuned.