Missouri Candidate Wins Facebook Race But Loses Election

By Jennifer Moire 

Missouri Republican voters cast ballots Tuesday in a tightly contested three-way Senate primary race, and one candidate was not only leading in the polls ahead of the vote, but seemingly running away with the race on Facebook. However, despite losing his primary race to Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) Tuesday night, there are lessons that candidates can learn from businessman John Brunner’s Facebook strategy.

Brunner started from scratch with a Facebook page in October 2011 to  lead his competition with 22,320 Facebook likes — almost twice as many as both of his primary competitors combined, according to Ryan Cassin, a social media adviser to the Brunner campaign.

We caught up with Cassin, a partner with Connect Strategic Communications of Dallas, to learn more about the campaign’s Facebook strategy.

Cassin identified two key Facebook features central to Brunner’s strong numbers on Facebook.

The first is the sponsored stories feature, which has become “totally mainstream” during the primary season. According to Cassin, sponsored stories “open new opportunities for engagement,”  because they use existing content from the timeline, and the campaign can ask users to share content more readily than the previous like ads.

The second feature Cassin found indispensable is the Facebook registration widget on Brunner’s website. With one click, supporters could respond to polls or sign petitions using pre-existing Facebook data- — information that Cassin notes is both high-quality and extremely valuable to a campaign.

Facebook has proven to be a key platform in the Republican primary races around the country.  Last week, the social network identified seven tips that campaigns can use to best leverage the social network.

The winner of last week’s Republican Senate primary in Texas, Ted Cruz, maximized all of these tips, according to political newspaper The Hill. Cruz has more than 80,000 supporters on Facebook, and stood out for his engagement, interaction, and use of multimedia on the site.

Vincent Harris, who served as social media adviser to Cruz (and former presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich), told AllFacebook the social network was the hub of the campaign’s online operations:

Facebook was incredibly effective in mobilizing Ted’s grassroots army, pushing out Ted’s conservative message, and fundraising to compete against (Texas Lt. Gov. David) Dewhurst’s millions. Ted Cruz built a community of supporters across Texas  who shared posted content and helped rebut attacks levied on Ted by Super PACs. The campaign utilized images such as the one pictured to the right, which were shared more than 1,000 times by supporters across the state.

Readers: Has Facebook affected your decisions in any elections you have participated in?