Rating Facebook Strategies Of 5 Presidential Candidates

As new candidates continue to join the race for president in 2012 (we're talking to you, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann), we are comparing newcomers against top contenders in a battle of the Facebook pages. How effectively are they using Facebook so far?

As new candidates continue to join the race for president in 2012 (we’re talking to you, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann), we are comparing newcomers against top contenders in a battle of the Facebook pages. How effectively are they using Facebook so far?

As the campaigns heat up, we thought it would be a good time to catch our breath and review the Facebook pages of some of the leading candidates. With Facebook quickly approaching 700 million users, the network is an ideal platform for presidential hopefuls to connect with supporters, share information and raise money.

What makes the 2012 race interesting is that candidates on both sides of the aisle are actively engaged in social media so early in the marathon. Social media gurus are among the first hires a campaign now makes, and candidates are turning to social media channels to make their formal announcements and leveraging the latest technology, such as micro-ads and mobile apps.

We’ve rankied five of the candidates’ Facebook strategies on a scale of 1 through 10 likes using the following criteria: How effectively the candidates are integrating video, photos, other Facebook features and applications, overall look and feel, and level of engagement with supporters.

Barack Obama

President Obama’s official 2012 page has 21 million likes and growing . Obama’s 2008 campaign was recognized for its masterful use of social media in fundraising and grassroots organizing. The president has already held a town hall at Facebook headquarters in the spring, helping to further establish his reputation as the first social media president.

Other notable page features: Effective integration with the BarackObama.com web site and use of page features to engage supporters. For example, the campaign does a good job of using family photos and sharing a juicy nugget like the president’s favorite TV show. The campaign also designed a nifty app that lets supporters sift through their friends list to customize an “Are you in?” message to grow the campaign’s Facebook base.

We think it’s one of the most effective 2012 pages and are looking forward to seeing what new features, such as a rumored mobile app, the forward-thinking campaign comes up with next. We’re leaving some room for continued improvements.

Michele Bachmann

Bachmann is slated to make her latest formal announcement Monday after making her second announcement during the CNN debate. Is the third time a charm? Her “I’m In,” video on Facebook, touting her “constitutional conservative” credentials, launches automatically, which some of our readers claim is a violation of Facebook’s Article I.7.a — auto-play videos are a no-no.

We say the page is just plain boring. It gives the pertinent data, but the photos and information don’t give us a sense of the person. It’s still early, and after her latest announcement, we’ll take another look for additional features and updates.

Let’s see what the campaign does to the page after the next announcement.

Jon Huntsman

The former ambassador to China only made his candidacy official this week, and his page reflects that. It shares all the important personal information–including a few quotes that illustrate his philosophy. We’ll look for a more fleshed out page as the campaign heats up.

Notable features: The page features six, now infamous and somewhat puzzling video ads of the motorcross rider in the desert that aired in the days leading up Huntsman’s announcement at Liberty Island.

It’s really too soon to tell. The page needs more time to bake before declaring it a success or failure.

Tim Pawlenty

The former Minnesota governor took to Facebook to announce his exploratory committee, asking users to like his page then await a special announcement. The move marked the first time Facebook was used in this way, which gives the governor some credibility and points.

Pawlenty was also one of the first GOP candidates to hold a town hall on Facebook in March, answering any and all questions from the audience. The campaign is also testing newer features, such as sponsored stories; ads that give the candidate a prominent placement among news feed posts and when supporters click the like button, that action becomes part of their friends’ news feeds.

Overall, a solid effort with testing of unique features and apps across the page. Some of the latest polls show Pawlenty trailing, so we’ll see how effective his Facebook strategy is in the end.

Mitt Romney

Despite a somewhat low-key official social media kick-off, SocialCode’s recent report measuring the GOP’s messaging on Facebook gave high marks to Romney on his anti-Obama message on the economy and his anti-Obamacare message on health care reform. So something must be working.

The campaign hopes to provide a richer experience for supporters, by including a photo uploading tool developed directly into the page and live streaming all major events through the page itself. The campaign counts more than 1 million Facebook community members.

A respectable Facebook presence by one of the top GOP contenders. We look forward to seeing what else the page offers as we march closer to the caucuses and primaries.