It might not be March, but today starts a new mode of Madness. TrendPo, a political data venture, has launched its latest project: Senate Sweeps.
Congressional Bracketology is a competition that pits elected officials against each other in a test of social media prowess, NCAA bracket style.
First, TrendPo ranked to seed the 64 U.S. Senators with the strongest social media presence, and arranged them by region into brackets. And now, over the next six weeks, TrendPo analysts will scour member activity with daily updates on hits, likes, shares, followers, reposts, and other metrics that reflect public engagement with politico messaging. In these “Senate Sweeps,” anybody can fill out a bracket and submit it for the chance to win.
Beginning today, TrendPo is tracking each Senator’s social media activity. In the first round, spanning October 2nd to 8th, politicians will be measured on the change in their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube metrics. The member in each pair with less activity is eliminated. From October 9th to 15th, analysts will focus on Facebook likes, shares and comments. The Sweet Sixteen will span October 16th to 22nd with a look at Twitter followers, retweets and mentions, followed by the Elite Eight, from October 23rd to 29th, where YouTube channel views, subscribers and likes will be tracked. By this point, all but four Senators will have been eliminated, and once again between October 30th and November 5th, all social media will again be reviewed. In the Finals, from November 6th to 12th, the winner will have to dominate on engagement measures, including interactions between politicians and their followers, including shares, comments, mentions and retweets.
While Arizona Sen. John McCain has an early advantage, blowing all other Senators out of the water in his volume of Facebook and Twitter followers, this may actually be a deficit for the 2008 presidential candidate. Because the TrendPo analysts will be measuring change in some metrics, Senators with fewer followers at the outset may show a greater climb during the 6-week period.
McCain aside, most Senators fall between 5,000 to 20,000 likes on Facebook, and 10,00 to 25,000 followers on Twitter.
“Senate Sweeps is a way to benchmark and compare how engaged Senators are on Social Media, encourage them to ramp up their efforts, and show Americans which Senators make outreach a priority,” the TrendPo website explains.
Florida’s two Senators have both made the cut and will be judged among the starting 64. Sen. Marco Rubio is seeded at #7 in the South and #18 overall, while Sen. Bill Nelson is seeded #10 in the South and #23 overall. The two Floridians face each other in Round One, and the winner will move on to the Facebook Round against either Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky or Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. Paul, who is ranked #2 in the South and #3 overall will be the likely target against Coker, who rings in at 53rd among the starting 64.
Rubio sets out with a hefty 54,993 Facebook likes and 433,600 Twitter followers. Nelson begins with 17,508 Facebook likes and 32,467 Twitter followers.
Check out the brackets and then get busy strategically engaging your favorites.
Karen Cyphers, PhD, is a public policy researcher, political consultant, and mother to three girls. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.