Please note: This feature is currently only available to U.S. Facebook users.
Facebook quietly released a new feature called Town Hall. The idea was that it would help encourage U.S. users to become more involved in their elections.
“The feature is available to all U.S. users on desktop and mobile and will now include newsfeed integration….Facebook also announced it’s launching local election reminders for the first time, to encourage users to vote in state, county, and municipal elections.”
Thus far, the feature still isn't very well known. Most Facebook users probably haven't even notice the new Town Hall icon in their left-hand menu yet.
But that may be about to change. As part of the new feature, any Facebook page classified as a “nonprofit organization” will now have the option to include a button on posts that will put supporters directly in contact with the representative of your choice.
Every nonprofits is somehow influenced by (or maybe even hopes to influence) public policy, so this is a monumental new capability.
Want to get a jump on this? Let’s take a look at the bells and whistles...
As the screenshot shows below, nonprofits now have a Town Hall icon. This is what you click on to add the call to action.
Just start typing the name of the representative you have in mind, and Facebook will suggest the matching representative on Facebook.
Once you’ve selected your representative, you’ll have the opportunity to fill out the rest of the post. This is a great place to detail your vision for change. State the issue at hand, layout a reasonable solution, and give supporters an easy way to help make a meaningful difference by contacting their local rep.
Included below is an example of what this type of post will look like once it's published.
Notice the new little phone icon with the words “contacting Senator Maria Cantwell” at the top of the post. In the middle of the post, you can also see how many people have already contacted the representative on this issue—all the more reason for them to click on that new Contact button on the right, now embedded in the post.
When supporters click that Contact button, they'll be shown a screen with various options of how to contact the representative. There's even an option to start a conversation using Facebook Messenger. It looks like this:
If a supporter then selects the Share button, they can create their own post to encourage friends to reach out to this representative about the issue, too.
Now you’re probably wondering, “But what happens if the person I select isn’t one of my supporters’ representatives?” The answer is, Facebook has your back!
In the example below, we’re looking at a call to action to contact a state representative from Texas. Because I don’t live in Texas, Facebook doesn’t give me the contact button like before. Instead that button prompts me to find my representatives. Nifty, right?
If you click that button, it will take you to Facebook's Town Hall page. In the example below you'll see that Facebook has found 10 of my representatives on Facebook. I have options to follow these people or start a conversation. I’ll also see how many of my Facebook friends have connected with a representative in the past. In this case, I have 52 Facebook friends who've reached out to these representatives.
It's interesting that Facebook is making such changes in response to the 2016 and 2017 elections in the US and Europe. Whether or not such features will succeed is yet unknown, but it's certainly a commendable attempt to help educate the public and use social media for good.
So far though, it's boding particularly well for nonprofits. For those ready and willing to put these powerful new features to good use, you have all new ways to drive change and help your supporters create real influence. So take your newfound knowledge and get to work making the world a better place!