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In Arkansas: Republican takes early social media lead over Democrat

August 13, 2013

By Ryan Saylor

If the 2014 race in Arkansas for the United States Senate were measured in Facebook “likes,” one candidate would clearly be ahead, and it could easily be considered a landslide at this early stage in the race.

As of early Friday (Aug. 9) afternoon, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, had amassed 38,731 likes on Facebook and 4,403 followers on Twitter. By comparison, incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., only had 3,046 Facebook likes and 134 Twitter followers. (See Cotton’s Facebookpage here, and see Pryor’s here.)

For even more comparison, Cotton’s campaign website has been functional and routinely updated ever since his race for Congress last year. Pryor’s re-election website only appeared online late this week.

Emily Reeves, director digital strategy at Stone Ward, an advertising and public relations firm in Little Rock, said said while she normally advises against looking solely at the number of likes and followers, Pryor’s low numbers are alarming.

“I would say it’s not normal because most politicians figured out with the 2008 election, digital communications in general are hugely important to winning the race,” she said. “It’s surprising that he would only be nine tweets in. He started on Aug. 1 and only sent nine tweets. He’s definitely behind the times when it comes to getting local media messaging and relationship building up to speed.”

Pryor’s digital troubles may not come as a surprise, though, as he was first elected in 2002, well before using social media in campaigning was even thought of. And in 2008, the year then-Sen. Barack Obama’s social media presence changed the electoral game, Pryor did not have a Republican opponent, making for an easy path to re-election against Green Party challenger Rebekah Kennedy.

Reeves made the point that Cotton’s digital presence has been active and engaging, well before his official entrance into the Senate race on Tuesday night (Aug. 6). Read more in The City Wire.

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