A few months back we told you of the House Republican
Conference's efforts to get more of its members to take the social media plunge
with an NCAA bracket-style challenge. Well, the results are in and its time to
meet the new GOP SM boss...who is the same as the old boss.
It was announced on Thursday that Rep. John Fleming (LA) has
won the challenge for the second straight year, with Representatives Joe Walsh
(IL) and Mike Conaway (TX) coming in second and third respectively.
The conference's "New Media Challenge" allowed members to
challenge one another in hopes of gaining new followers on Facebook, Twitter,
and YouTube. According to conference Vice-Chair Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (WA) "Points
are earned during each round when Members add new followers, likes, and views
on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The focus isn't just on numbers, however;
Members are encouraged to submit best practices to be shared with their
colleagues each week."
Back in May, conference spokesman Pat Bell explained the
benefits of such a challenge. "The competitive design of the Challenge
incentivizes Members to think outside the box, but also focus on core
fundamentals," Bell said. "There is
definitely a benefit to being active on social media, including the capability
it gives you to respond to misinformation around big debates. If you're not
online, those conversations are still taking place, with or without you.
"With more than 80% of our Conference, and 90% of the
freshmen class on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, this annual Challenge helps
us better equip Members with innovative ways to use these tools," Rep. McMorris
Rodgers said in a statement released Thursday.
"It's as simple as listening and engaging with your
constituents," said two time champion Rep. Fleming. "A little friendly
competition goes a long way to driving innovation, especially as we seek to
communicate our positive vision."
According to OhMyGov Media Monitoring, since the challenge was announced on May 3rd Fleming has gained 419 new Twitter followers and 1,445 new Facebook fans.
All in all the challenge resulted in over 300,000 new
Facebook likes, Twitter follows, and YouTube views for the members of the
conference. Challenge rules stipulated that entrants scored one point each for
every new follower on one of the participating social networks. Members were
encouraged to "develop creative, innovative, or novel tactics to earn points
and engage constituents."
With the majority party taking such an active role in the
development of social media as an outreach tool, the natural question then
becomes what if any plans do Democrats have to counter the wave of emerging
Republican social media mavens. With more and more elections being decided as
much on the internet as in the ballot box, this may be an issue both parties
take an active role in.