Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 8:01 a.m.
Allen West (and the people working for him) get social media. West was named the most engaging Twitter user in Congress a few months ago, and he's gained 20,000 since earning the title, putting him at more than 56,000 followers.
His campaign Facebook page has more than 96,000 likes and is getting more popular by the day, thanks in no small part to the fancy graphics his staff puts out on a regular basis -- even one with just 12 words and an arrow
got more than 1,400 likes and almost 900 shares. And every time somebody likes a post, or -- even better -- shares one, West gets a little more of that precious publicity.
So it's in his interest to write things like "US factory orders fell for the third time in four months. LIKE if you agree
that Obama's extreme regulations are killing our industrial economy" -- just agreeing in your head isn't enough; you have to tell all your friends you like it too.
The campaign is closely monitoring this stuff too -- links in the Facebook posts are coded
to indicate where (and when) the clicks are coming from. And yesterday, West hit a gold mine: D-Day.
His congressional Facebook page had a heartfelt essay
that got 80 likes and 71 shares, but the graphic he posted on the campaign page -- "Thank you, D-Day vets" -- was the perfect intersection of patriotism and fake social-media advocacy. That's not to say West or those who liked the graphic aren't grateful for the sacrifices of the American military -- it's just that Facebook is a totally fake way of showing it.
The graphic (captioned with "Today marks the anniversary of our D-Day Invasion of Normandy. Can we get 100 SHARES of this tribute to these steadfast and loyal troops?") got almost 6,000 likes and more than 8,300 shares
in its first ten hours of existence -- a huge boon for the congressman's social media presence that was seen by, ballpark numbers here, zero D-Day vets.
Even a soldier who was 17 on D-Day would be 85 years old today -- how many octogenarians do you know on Facebook? Thanking WWII veterans on Facebook or changing your status to some nonsense about breast cancer isn't actually supporting anything -- it's telling your friends you support something, inasmuch as clicking a link is actually "supporting" anything. And that's the appeal -- it's easy, and you get credit from all your friends.
And West stretches his social media tendrils even further.