NPR (via Alabama Public Radio) noted on Thursday:
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is taking the lead on Facebook. Paul’s politician page has 1.9 million likes and 228,537 people were “talking” about him as of Tuesday.
In his Facebook posts, he can be seen behind podiums and on political trips. He also links to articles and video clips he’s featured in and infographics that express his views on topics from legalizing marijuana to Loretta Lynch. He also denounces his (potential future) competition.
But how does the Kentucky senator match up against some other formidable Republicans and Democrats, including Hillary Clinton? NPR continues:
It seems Clinton isn’t even in the game on Facebook. She doesn’t have a verified Facebook page, just a topic page with more than 400,000 likes. That’s still more than Jeb Bush’s 163,000, even though he appears to be doing all the right things — using hashtags, tagging friends like Benjamin Netanyahu, and posting selfies, baby pictures and vintage photos of his mom, Barbara Bush, and his wife, Columba.
Whether all of the potential 2016 presidential candidates fully understand it or not, social media does matter.
Dr. Pamela Rutledge of The Media Psychology Blog noted in 2013 that “Not only was Obama the first African American to be elected president, but he was also the first presidential candidate to effectively use social media as a major campaign strategy.”
We reach thousands of kids that we might not ever have reached before,” Paul said. “In fact, we’re probably reaching some kids who aren’t yet 18, that will be 18 when the elections roll around the next time. We’ll have whole classrooms sometimes do a Snapchat to us.”
“Like 30 or 40 kids in a high school class will do a quick Snapshot [sic] to us,” he added.
Disclosure: I co-authored Senator Rand Paul’s 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington and served as his new media director.