After much anticipation, the GOP House Conference has finally released the names of the winners of its six-week “new media” challenge, in which members competed to see who could sign up the most new Facebook fans, Twitter followers and YouTube subscribers. In a hotly contested championship final, Louisiana Rep. John Fleming emerged Wednesday as the winner (1st prize: an iPhone), followed by Georgia’s Phil Gingrey (flip phone) and Lamar Smith from Texas, who seems to have gotten a bit of a booby prize for coming in third (a set of steak knives as a symbol of the need for the GOP to be on the “cutting edge” of new media).
The challenge netted the House Republicans a pretty nice foothold in the social media sphere, with 11,000 new Twitter followers, 30,000 new Facebook fans, and 1100 new YouTube subscribers. The contest was apparently so successful that it prompted the Democrats to launch their own competition to try to close the fan gap, which is significant. When the GOP started its new media challenge, 79 percent of House GOP members were already on Facebook but only 39 percent of Dems were, and only 20 percent of Democratic House members were tweeting, compared with 64 percent of Republicans. The disparity apparently shamed House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi into getting on the Twitter. She still has a ways to go to catch up with her Republican counterpart, Minority Leader John Boehner, who has nearly 44,000 Twitter followers. Perhaps the possibility of winning some steak knives might spur some ferocious tweeting.