How and Why Social Media Is Hurting Newt Gingrich’s Run for President

By the time you read this, Newt Gingrich may have already dropped out of the Presidential race. This will happen at some point in the future, and there are many reasons why, but the most interesting and surely novel reason for the failure to obtain his party’s nomination for President of the United States is the role and power of social media. For whatever brilliance one believes Mr. Gingrich to possess, politically or otherwise, he does not have the experience and capacity to connect and effectively use social media to his advantage; and that will be his downfall.

Barack Obama won his party’s nomination and ultimately the Presidency in part with his ability to relate with younger generations, having with him a powerful social media strategy that employed thousands of small donors and local activists. Unlike any other candidate and President, he both needed and actively sought that kind of interaction with people. When he became President, he converted to a different Blackberry, one for security matters, while maintaining another for personal items, but always the wiser about the perceived security of smartphones. He has since maintained Facebook and Twitter accounts, not as a means to appear young and hip, but as a man and leader that knows these are media from which people acquire news.

President Obama was hysterical at the White House Correspondent's Dinner, and the whole world saw on YouTube
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New York Congressman Anthony Weiner has become a social media star with his witty tweets and passionate, informed rants from the House floor that find their way to YouTube. Still, even Mr. Weiner is not immune from social media pranks, as it would appear his Twitter account was recently hacked, forcing the Congressman to hire a lawyer for such matters. Like Obama, he knows the positive power and negative consequences of the new virtual era.

Congressman Weiner and President Obama are relatively young, but it is not age that hurts Newt Gingrich. Vice President Joe Biden has become a darling of the inter webs as well, with YouTube showcasing his many gaffes, often hilarious and harmless. His office even made a video parody of him for the White House Correspondent’s Dinner to great applause.

Vice President Biden though, and just as importantly the people around him, have an understanding of social media. Simply having an account online does not pass for comprehension. Newt Gingrich announced his candidacy for President via Facebook and Twitter, but the attempt to connect and appear young was completely inorganic.

In fact, Facebook announcements are so last election. We’ve come past the point where it is notable that politicians have Facebook and Twitter accounts; it is just assumed. There exists no one who is watching the nightly news and paying attention to politics that is also unaware of the existence of Twitter and Facebook. In the occasions where social media sources are not involved in the news or the reporting, they are promoted as ways to connect with the journalists and reporters. This is all to say that there was nothing special about the Facebook announcement by Newt Gingrich other than the fact that it looked and felt totally forced. Not only is it unnatural for him and certainly pushed for by his staff, but he doesn’t really look like anyone that anyone knows on Facebook.

Mr.Gingrich's Facebook announcement felt forced and awkward. One website counted the number of times he blinked.
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Following the announcement, the Gingrich 2012 campaign continued it’s inauspicious start, as the Monday after, when the news wasn’t discussing Mr. Gingrich’s Meet the Press outing, they were showing a hilarious YouTube Video. The Glittering of Newt Gingrich was a glorious form of non-violent and fabulous protest, and while this was not a gaffe on the behalf of Mr. Gingrich, he is now a political candidate in a world where events like this can and do happen, and everything is documented. It is a world where news of potential scandals like the unpaid Tiffany’s bills, or salacious trysts and past divorces will spread quickly and become engrained in social conscious, forever equated with Mr. Gingrich.