House Democrats hold Social Media competition

Congressional Democrats will spend the next few weeks trying outdo one another in an online competition to see who can make the biggest gains in social media popularity. The second annual Member Online All-Star Competition, which kicked off this past Monday and runs through mid-October, is being coordinated through Minority Whip Steny Hoyer's office and will crown the biggest social media star of the House Democrats. Using open source APIs from Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, the event's organizers will tally which House member in the minority party gains the most followers on each platform over the next two weeks. The top fifty will be named "All Stars," while the single most successful member will be anointed "MVP" for the competition. Currently The contest only measures new fans/followers, giving each Democrat in the House a theoretically equal shot at winning. But while past performance is not a direct factor, the network effect of how information is shared online will potentially help those members with already large followings. Party leadership figures like Rep. Nancy Pelosi are excluded from the competition, one of the event's organizers told OhMyGov, in the interest of "maintaining a level playing field" and encouraging lesser known members to get involved in social media. Progress in the contest will be tracked on a leaderboard with (what else?) an array of donkeys representing the social media growth of the House members. Last year's competition ended with a little controversy of its own. Puerto Rico Delegate Pedro Pierluisi had initially been declared the winner, but after grumbles by other members that Puerto Rico's population was larger than other Congressional districts, Colorado Rep. Jared Polis, the numerical runner-up, was named "Co-MVP" alongside Pierluisi. The Democrats' competition event resembles the House Republicans' New Media Challenge, held each of the last two years. (See OhMyGov's coverage here and here.) But whereas the latest GOP version was a "March Madness" head-to-head bracket competition, the Democrats' version is just a good old-fashioned jackass derby. (Sorry, couldn't resist...) Events such as these make sense as a way to boost the national name recognition of lesser known peers and encourage the embrace of social media by all. While the current contests use the basic metric of "most fans gained," and not more sophisticated views of social media that measure, for instance, the engagement of constituents or the total reach of members' outbound messaging, they are a step in the right direction.   Get the latest breaking performance stats on House Democrats (and many other groups, from Federal Agencies to 2012 Candidates) here: OhMyGov's Social Media Scorecard    
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