Every Monday, Whispers plans to offer–with the help of D.C.-based political data startup TrendPo–an interesting and informative slice of the political social media landscape.
For our first installment, TrendPo provided Whispers with a way to see how some of the possible 2016 hopefuls use Facebook for outreach. Since around the time of the last presidential election – November 2012 – until this month, TrendPo looked at how each potential 2016 candidate has engaged constituents and voters.
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Each Republican has used Facebook slightly differently. "My biggest takeaway is that the 2016 GOP candidates are all trying to figure out their own strategy (especially in social media), whereas the Dems pretty clearly have a target strategy they've laid out and are running with," TrendPo's J.D. Chang told Whispers via email.
For example, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his team have used video almost 50 percent of the time to engage on Facebook, using the medium to enhance Christie's image as a tough talking, no-nonsense Jersey boy.
Recent video posts have the governor surveying Superstorm Sandy reconstruction, but also showcasing Christie's personal flavor. "I know there are better looking governors than me around the country," Christie begins in one video post. "And despite my recent efforts, there are thinner governors than me," he says, before talking about the legacy of Sandy.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also predominantly uses video to engage on Facebook, including a weekly video series, "Marco's Constituent Mailbox."
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and his team mostly post links on his Facebook page to get his points across. They link to plenty of Paul-created content, such as editorials and video clips of the senator speaking, but also point to news articles and videos aligned with his point of view. Last week, for example, Paul and his team linked to a Wall Street Journal article on Obamacare "horror stories," a Heritage Foundation blog post pointing out security risks on Healthcare.gov and Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood singing "Obamacare by Morning" at the CMA Awards.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, uses Facebook status updates to make strong points, 58 percent of the time, according to TrendPo. "Just an observation, but the old line WAS that you could keep your health care plan and an Iranian nuke was unacceptable #ObamaFlipFlops," he wrote on Nov. 8, garnering more than 18,000 likes.
Photos are the way Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., gets his constituents talking. He has used photos to communicate on Facebook 63 percent of the time, according to TrendPo. Some of his finest include Ryan in his Halloween costume–as a cast member of the reality show "Duck Dynasty"–as well as picking pumpkins with his kids and posing with country singer Trace Adkins.
Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., uses the greatest variety when reaching out to potential voters. Santorum, who was briefly the frontrunner during the 2012 GOP primary, is considered a dark horse in the next one and continues to stay engaged. He announces his television appearances via Facebook status updates and has posted pictures on the campaign trail with then-Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli. He's also using Facebook to encourage supporters to go see the movie he produced, "the Christmas Candle," with singer Susan Boyle, in theaters Nov. 22.