More than 50,000 Facebook likes, Twitter followers, and YouTube subscribers were garnered in the 2012 New Media Challenge, the third year of the friendly competition among GOP members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The top three winners out of 96 member and committee participants were announced Wednesday by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, vice chair of the House Republican Conference and organizer of the annual social media challenge.  Two of the top spots went to freshman members.

The contest yielded 24,000 total Facebook likes among all of the competitors. Twitter followers increased by 22,000, and 4,000 YouTube subscribers were added, according to the contest organizers.

First place goes to Rep. Justin Amash, a freshman lawmaker from Michigan. According to the congressman, the contest is a win for democracy:

I use Facebook to explain every vote I take on the House floor, and I personally interact with my constituents online. This not only empowers people at home, but also shapes me into a better representative. It’s an honor to win this year’s contest, and it’s a big win for the forces of liberty and transparency.

The silver bracket winner is veteran Congressman Vern Buchanan of Florida. Rep. Buchanan says of his second-place finish:

Since its inception, the New Media Challenge has been a way for members to challenge each other to stay ahead of the curve online. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, I believe in listening to the people and giving them every opportunity to voice their views.

This year’s third-place finisher is Rep. Lou Barletta, a freshman lawmaker from Pennsylvania.  Barletta confirms that Facebook and other social channels are key to constituent outreach.

Whether it’s listening to everyday concerns, or sharing information about what we’re working on in Washington that will affect my district, new media is an important part of my communication plan. My colleagues and I recognize that, and through this challenge, we’ve shown that we’re embracing it.

Besides the honor of winning and a little friendly competition, organizers say the conference staff will meet in the coming weeks to share best practices.

The complete brackets from the seven-week contest may be found here.