How Are GOP 2012 Hopefuls Leveraging Facebook?

The Republican 2012 presidential contenders are quickly gaining ground on leveraging Facebook and other social media sites to their advantage.

The Republican 2012 presidential contenders are quickly gaining ground, leveraging Facebook and other social media sites to their advantage.

With Republican candidates starting to dip their toes in the 2012 election pool, let’s take a look at how each are using social media and Facebook, in particular, to get their campaigns off the ground.

Tim Pawlenty: He disclosed his 2012 aspirations on Facebook, after a Tweet earlier in the day urging followers to like his page and then await a special announcement. His official Facebook page boasts more than 84,000 supporters; 5,000 joined the candidate after his kick-off tweet. The candidate’s Facebook page features a number of bells and whistles – including ways for supporters to earn points and badges – that places him out in front of the other Republican contenders’ Facebook efforts.

Sarah Palin: The former Alaska governor has made Facebook the cornerstone of her communication efforts to supporters, though she has also been criticized for using the site as a one-way-only information flow to bypass the media. Her Facebook fan page is approaching three million fans, and it includes a link to her newly relaunched website that includes numerous ways of engaging her supporters.

Mitt Romney: He made a low-key announcement late on a recent afternoon and with hardly any advance notice via Twitter, then posted a humble online video that is featured on You Tube and his Facebook page, which numbers 850,000 fans and counting.

Newt Gingrich: Though not an official candidate, Gingrich has more than 1.4 million Twitter followers and a very active Facebook presence. There are eight websites connected to organizations started by the former House Speaker that use social media platforms to communicate with their constituents.

The aforementioned candidates have so far demonstrated a meaningful relationship with Facebook, using the social media site to post pictures, videos and host discussions. But there are more Republicans who have yet to formally announce candidacy, and presumably they would include social media in their announcements.

We might expect to hear from the likes of Michelle Bachmann, Haley Barbour, Ron Paul and even Donald Trump about the 2012 races. But if they want to run, they’d better get started, however: The first national Republican debate is scheduled for May 5 in South Carolina.

Readers, which political party do you think will use Facebook more effectively in the 2012 presidential race?