Facebook Integral To House Democrats' Media Contest

Over the next three weeks, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives will compete head-to-head on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for the title of Most Valuable Player.

It’s not a sports competition: It’s the second annual Member Online All-Star Competition, which was recently announced by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s (Md.) office. The competition aims to boost social media use among members and grow their follower bases across the three social media platforms. The latest congressional contest comes on the heels of the GOP’s New Media Challenge, which ended earlier this summer.

Stephen Dwyer, director of online communications and technology for the Democratic Whip’s office, filled AllFacebook.com in on the details.

The top 50 members at the end of the three-week competition will be named All-Stars, with first place awarded to the MVP.

This year’s contest is marked by a new technology twist. The idea of manually updating follower numbers seemed daunting, so Dwyer leveraged the open APIs of the three social media platforms. He directed Web developers to create an electronic scoreboard — using the image of racing donkeys to convey leader changes — which will be housed on the caucus’ private intranet for any member to access.

With the digital scoreboard, members will be able to get updates on the competition at weekly caucus gatherings or more frequently — a good thing, given the level of friendly competition Dwyer says the annual contest generates.

Select results from 2010 All Star Competition

How does Dwyer think members will actually grow their followers? He is strongly encouraging the use of Facebook ads, along with the more traditional tactics of cross-promoting across channels, and sharing the members’ social media addresses in regular mail, email signatures, and websites.

Dwyer said he hopes to top last year’s contest, which generated 43,000 new followers on Facebook.

There’s not much room in the caucus for new Facebook accounts, because a whopping 89 percent of Democrats in the House are already using the social networking site.

Do you believe elected officials should be encouraged to use Facebook?

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