Social Media and the Republican Hopefuls

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Newt Gingrich just announced via Facebook and Twitter that he will be making an announcement tonight on the Sean Hannity show on FOX news regarding his campaign to run for President.

This announcement announcement is not the first we've seen so far as the cycle of republican presidential hopefuls gear up for primary season. Earlier, former Minnesota governor and hopeful Tim Pawlenty tweeted a link to an announcement he was making live on Facebook, which turned out to be the development of an exploratory committee on running for President. He has since thrown his hat in the ring officially.

Be sure to watch Hannity this Wednesday at 9pm ET/8pm CT. I will be on to talk about my run for President of the United States @seanhannity 1 day ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Newt GingrichI have been humbled by all the encouragement you have given me to run. Thank you for your support. Be sure to watch Hannity this Wednesday at 9pm ET/8pm CT. I will be on to talk about my run for President of the United States.

Mitt Romney, who is seen as the likely frontrunner early on in the primary race also kicked things off through social media. Back in April he announced his own exploratory committee for President on Twitter and also put out a short message on YouTube.

Is it possible that whichever hopeful best utilizes social media will be the one to emerge victorious in the Republican primary? The Republican party should be praying that the most social media friendly candidate is the one that moves on to face President Obama in the national election. We all remember how well Barack Obama used Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to win his 2010 campaign. Just ask John McCain who, though active on Facebook and Twitter, looked like a Luddite in comparison to Obama's media blitz.

And Obama is still incredibly active on the social media sites, posting daily to his millions of followers. There is strong evidence to suggest that social media will heavily influence the outcome of the 2014 race.

So that got me to thinking - how do the primary hopefuls stack up in terms of social media presence? I looked at Facebook statistics and used two different applications for determining Twitter influence (Klout and Twitalyzer). Klout factors in Facebook likes and comments into some of their ratings.

Since Newt is in the news for just recently beginning to announce, let's start with him.

Newt has just shy of 126,000 likes on his official Facebook page. The page is active, meaning it has regular postings, photos and event notifications. The most recent 5 posts from Newt have an average of 846 likes and 144 comments.

On Twitter, Newt has 1.3 million followers. He is also fairly active on the service, tweeting almost once a day. His total Klout score is 67. According to Klout, his true reach (number of actually engaged followers) is 507K. His amplification probability (likelihood that content will be acted upon - retweets and such) is 48 and his network influence score (how influential is their engaged audience) is 71.

According to Twitalyzer, Newt's impact score is 27.9% which puts him in the 99.1 percentile. Not bad.

Let's look at some of the other candidates thought to be frontrunners in the primary race.

Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, has 883,000 likes on his Facebook page. It is also an active page, posting almost every day - sometimes twice a day. His most recent 5 posts average 4532 likes and 397 comments, dwarfing Gingrich.

Romney only has 40,000 followers on Twitter. His Twitalyzer impact score is 27.5%, which puts him in the 99th percentile. His total Klout score is 71, higher than Newts, most likely because it incorporates Facebook to some degree. His true reach on Twitter is 16K with an amplification score of 54 and a network influence score of 76.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has 583,000 likes on his Facebook page. His last 5 posts average 1148 likes and 230 comments.

His Twitalyzer impact score is 29.3% and his Klout score is 68 - with a true reach of 54k, and amplification score of 49 and a network influence score of 72.

Former Alaska Governor and TLC reality star Sarah Palin is like the celebrity of the party if you go by her social media prowess. She has just shy of 3 million likes on his Facebook page, with her last 5 comments averaging 19453 likes and 1983 comments. These numbers dwarf those of any other Republican who has been implicated in the 2014 race.

Palin has 513,000 twitter followers and her Twitalyzer impact score is 59.5%, putting her in the 99.8 percentile. Her Klout score is 78 with a true reach of 180K, an amplification score of 67 and a network influence score of 82.

Finally, Tim Pawlenty is the mainstream candidate with the least impressive numbers. He only has 86,000 likes on his Facebook page and is averaging 291 likes and 48 comments on his last 5 posts.

Pawlenty has 32,000 followers on Twitter and an impact score of 16.5 %. His Klout score is 67 with a 12K true reach, and amplification score of 48 and a network influence score of 72.

Out of these 5 candidates, Sarah Palin is clearly the social media star. But she has yet to actually announce her candidacy. It is just highly speculated by pundits and insiders that she is thinking about running. Of the candidates who we know are running, Mitt Romney looks like he utilizes social media better than the rest. He is a force on Facebook, garnering massive feedback when he posts. He could stand to expand his Twitter influence, however, by tweeting more frequently and engaging with his audience through replies and retweets.

People seem to respond to politicians who engage with them through social media.  There is a sense of authenticity and truth that springs from direct messages from the leaders.  Instead of speaking through a spokesman or press release, politicians can (at least feign) real involvement with the people through Facebook and Twitter.  So, in order to compete with the social savvy President in 2014, the GOP is going to have to engage with people on the interwebs with a vigor to match.

Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf

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