By Becky Hogan
Being a Republican Senator in a blue state is an awkward balancing act for sure. Your emboldened GOP colleagues from red states are rattling off Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” on the Senate floor, meanwhile you have to appear reasonable, restrained, and at times willing to compromise. Add to that the bitterly partisan gridlock of the government shutdown, and it seems you have an uphill battle when it comes to generating online engagement.
Republican Senator Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania is prime example of this, and like other GOP Senators in democratic-leaning states, was elected in 2010 during the Republican resurgence.
In 2012, Barack Obama claimed 54% of the vote in his state.
Toomey and Ohio Senator Rob Portman are the only two blue state Republicans left in our #SeanteSweeps competition, where we’re pitting Senators against each other in NCAA-style brackets according to their social media savvy.
For Round 2 of the competition, we’re focusing solely on Facebook engagement and Toomey faces a formidable opponent in Senator Bernie Sanders.
Over the course of last week, Toomey posted to his Facebook page seven times versus Sanders’ 40 posts. This means that Toomey was averaging one post per day on the social networking site and Sanders was averaging over 5 posts a day.
As you can see, pushing out more posts on Facebook led to big increases in Likes each day for Sanders. Toomey gained a steady influx of Likes, but perhaps with more outreach on his page could increase the amount of Likes he sees each day.
One thing Sanders does really well: he posts a variety of content to his page–including a slew of YouTube videos.
Having interesting and newsworthy content is critical to successful online engagement. Sanders racked up thousands of FB Shares everyday–in part, because he was posting so frequently–showing that his supporters are standing with him on his shutdown rhetoric.
The data shows that on days Toomey didn’t post to his page, he did not gain Shares. Facebook Shares are the number of times other Facebook users share one of your status to their own page.
Toomey saw the most FB Shares on October 2 when he announced on his page that he wouldn’t be accepting a paycheck during the government shutdown.
But Toomey isn’t backing down just yet. Yesterday he joined some of his GOP colleagues in downplaying the consequences of the US government defaulting on its debt.
He received national news coverage for criticizing the White House for intimidating Republicans with debt limit threats. In an MSNBC interview, he said, “(Democrats) want to be able to hold the specter of a catastrophe in front of Republicans to cow us and intimidate us into giving the President what he wants, which is a whole lot of additional borrowing authority with no reforms whatsoever.”
As we learned from last week, social media is a great way to extend the news media cycle, so capitalizing on press activity on your social media platforms is critical to staying in the competition.
Will his strategy of joining the GOP chorus enhance his chances of increased engagement on Facebook? Check back here for Round 2 #SenateSweeps results next week.