Winning the Internet

Psychological warfare with Facebook ads and Google AdWords

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

chess smallImagine logging into Facebook and seeing an ad for the opposition staring you in the face. Just the idea of it is agitating, isn’t it? Now imagine it’s your ad, and it’s the opposition that’s logging into Facebook. This could be useful, right?

There may be times that you want the opposition to have a certain impression of your organization or campaign. Perhaps you want to make sure they see a campaign you’re running, or you want it to look like you’re spending more money on the campaign than you really are. Or, maybe you want to send them a specific message – you can do all of this with Facebook and Google AdWords ads.

Facebook ads

Facebook ads can work beautifully for this kind of psychological warfare, especially if you’re hoping to target employees at a specific company. Just include the name of the company under Workplaces:

Facebook work CNN

Facebook targeting CNNIf you’re targeting executives specifically, you may want to narrow the age range. If the organization has multiple offices and you’re focusing on folks in the main office, you can refine your target by specifying the city. If you’re going after a particular individual, you can further refine by gender, and even interests (though you probably only want to use interests if the individual has a public profile and you can see specific interests listed on it).

If you’ve got a fairly narrow target, you can run these ads very cheaply – possibly for only a few dollars.

Google AdWords ads

Google AdWords is a little different – you can target a specific city, but not a workplace, age or gender group. If you’re hoping to use AdWords, you need to figure out what that individual might search for in Google. For example, many politicians Google themselves regularly (or their staffers do it). So, you could purchase the individual or company’s name as a keyword (just remember that Google won’t let you mention brand names you don’t own in ad text).

Another option is a specific buzz word that the opposition is using for something. This kind of advertising can be incredibly cheap if you’re targeting a local official or an executive, but could get costly if the term or company is hot right now – just keep that in mind when you’re setting your budget.

Facebook ads and Google AdWords are two of the easiest (and cheapest) tools for engaging in this kind of psychological warfare, but they’re not the only tools. If you’ve had success with another tool, let us know in the comments.

Chess photo by Andrew C.


About Melissa Foley

Melissa is the Director of Training and Mentoring for Netroots Foundation and New Media Mentors. She aims to use her MBA + nonprofit background to teach organizations to use new media tools strategically.

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