Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush took another big step toward a presidential run on Tuesday morning with the launch of a new political action committee. And he did it through multiple social platforms — Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
But it’s one thing to use social media, and another to do it well. We give him a B- for his efforts so far. He's off to a decent start, but there is room for improvement.
Let's take a look at how Bush has performed on these sites.
Bush has made Facebook his main platform to get out his message while he explores a run. On Tuesday, he uploaded videos to Facebook in both English and Spanish encouraging voters to sign up for updates from the Right to Rise PAC. His Facebook profile picture was changed to a portrait befitting a presidential candidate. His cover photo now includes the logo of the Right to Rise PAC.
His announcement in mid-December that he would “actively explore” a presidential run came through a 192-word Facebook post. Since then, he has stayed active, undertaking a version of rapid response through the platform. He released a response to President Barack Obama’s Cuba policy announcement, as well as a point-by-point debunking of a Democratic National Committee list of “talking points” against him. He has also posted photos of family gatherings and other events.
Bush has 131,500 likes on his Facebook page. That lags behind potential 2016 Republican challengers such as Sens. Rand Paul (1.84 million), Ted Cruz (1.08 million), and Marco Rubio (713,800) as well as Texas Gov. Rick Perry (1.1 million) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (199,000).
While Bush deserves kudos for keeping an active Facebook account, he loses some style points. His PAC announcement was shot vertically with a camera phone. That's a no-no.
On Tuesday, Bush also uploaded the videos to Twitter, where he shared them from his @JebBush account that has nearly 150,000 followers.
But thus far, Bush has not made his Twitter account stand out from his other social platforms. The vast majority of his tweets over the past three weeks — since he made his initial exploratory announcement — have simply been links to the longer posts on his Facebook page. There are few examples of Bush interacting with other Twitter users.
He’s been far less active than other potential candidates on the Republican side, like Sens. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Marco Rubio (R-Florida). Rubio and Paul each have around four times as many Twitter followers as Bush, who has 146,000.
“Right now the clear winner is Rand on social and the other possible candidates are very good at social and will come out very strong and remain very strong once they get in,” said Matt DeLuca, a strategist who works at the public-relations firm Edelman.
Bush is also really into Thank You/Congratulations Twitter.
Bush recently created an Instagram account, where he also published the two videos. But this is a newly created platform for Bush. The only pieces of content on the account are the two videos — in English and Spanish — announcing the formation of the PAC and a graphic promoting it.
Overall: The social-heavy pre-campaign rollout has allowed Bush’s team to control its message to this point, while targeting certain demographics that will be essential toward any path to winning the presidency — youth and Latino voters.
Both groups use social media at a higher rate than the general population. Two-thirds of Latinos use social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, compared to 58 percent of all U.S. internet users, according to a 2013 Pew study. More than eight in ten Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have social media accounts.
Trevor Hammond, a former digital strategist for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, was a bit more generous with his grade. He said he’d give Bush a B+ at this point. But Bush has some catching up to do.
“Once he begins to engage with his social media community — answer their questions in real time and respond earnestly to general sentiment — we can consider raising the grade to an A,” Hammond said. “Millennials and the Latino community will be critical to victory in 2016 and connecting with them over social media is huge."
Brett LoGiurato is the senior national political correspondent at Fusion, where he covers all things 2016. He'll give you everything you need to know about politics, with a healthy side of puns.
Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.