St. Louis County, Missouri Uses Facebook Live for Voter Education

Featured image: movie camera

Election offices using social media — once a novel idea — is now well established as a best practice for civic communication.

But while Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts can be a great way to provide quick updates and display your office’s personality, sometimes you need more breathing room to get complex information across.

That’s a big part of why the St. Louis County Board of Elections is using Facebook Live video streaming. With the help of instructions and guidelines from the Facebook Live for Election Officials tool, the Board is creating well-produced, informative videos that earn positive responses from the community.

“Facebook Live is an effective tool,” explains Public Information Officer Saad Amir, “because it puts you right in front of the people. Voters tune in and get to see and hear things that they would normally have to seek out for themselves.”

Saad saw the benefits of Facebook Live in a previous position, and after coming to work for the Board in early 2017, he wanted to use the platform in the elections context. For guidance, he turned to the Election Toolkit, where he learned new information about choosing equipment, embedding the videos on a website, and adding captions.

Saad Amir with colleagues

Saad Amir, second from right, with Training Department colleagues. Photo courtesy of Saad Amir.

Since then, Saad has worked to produce videos that inform viewers while also forming a more personal connection between the Board and the community.

“Our office primarily uses Facebook Live to better explain otherwise complex election processes,” he says. “It’s been an effective way to directly connect with voters to show the human side behind election administration.”

In one video series, for instance, Election Directors Eric Fey and Rick Stream take viewers on a tour of the Board office on Election Day, explaining absentee ballot processing and showing the voting equipment warehouse. In another, they hold a thoughtful discussion about cybersecurity, responding to questions from the Facebook audience in real time.

Eric Fey and Rick Stream in Facebook Live video

The Board of Elections goes Live on Election Day

For their efforts, Saad and his colleagues have seen their Facebook Live sessions receive good engagement and feedback from audiences.

“So far, the responses have been quite positive,” Saad says. “Many viewers have left comments asking if we will be able to host the videos on our website or send them to high schools to be used in their government courses.”

Facebook comments describe video as informative and awesome

Comments from an appreciative audience

With these Facebook Live successes, the Board of Elections already has other sessions planned for topics like registering to vote and voting absentee.

Saad says that although it’s easy to just tap a button and start streaming, research and planning are important to make sure that your Facebook Live session is effective.

“The Facebook Live tool from the Election Toolkit definitely helped us get our office ready to broadcast,” he explains. “The tips and general guidelines that the tool outlines helped us create best practices that have made our videos successful.”

Whether you’re new to Facebook Live or you’ve used it before, you’ll surely pick up some fresh ideas from the Facebook Live for Election Officials tool.