Social Romney: Mitt, Ann, the Boys and New Media
The first part in Patch's The Romney Effect series looks at how Mitt Romney and his family appear on social media.
Mitt Romney's Facebook page states he likes "East of Eden," "O, Brother, Where Art Thou?" and Johnny Cash. But you won't find anything about his hometown of Belmont on his 'likes' list.
Does that mean Romney doesn't like Belmont, despite living here for four decades?
We can't presume to know, but we know that comments or insights, likes (or even dislikes) about local happenings doesn't appear to be part of the presumptive Republican candidate's social media presence.
More than 2.5 million Facebook members 'like' Belmont's most prominent citizen. Or about 10 percent of the 'likes' on Pres. Barack Obama's Facebook page.
Social media – Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Flickr, Instagram and even newcomer Pinterest – have been considered essential to a successful political campaign since Obama's campaign deployed social media to great effect in the 2008 election. For serious political junkies, there is even a site called Whistlestop that, according to its website: "...track[s] how candidates are performing in the race for digital footprint." Techcrunch says Whistlestop "scores each candidate by their social media interactions..."
So social media presence matters.
What else do we know about the Romneys'?
According to one Republican digital strategist, the entire Romney clan is very good at it.
"If they're smart and know what to say, and they seem to, it's a good way to instantly shape perceptions of their dad," said Patrick Ruffini in a BuzzFeed article in February on the Romney's social media 'savvy.'
Those small moments in life that are often shared on social media are missing from Romney's interactions. There are no tweets about the latest tie-up on Route 2, no Facebook 'like' for the latest restaurant to open in Belmont Center, no YouTube videos of grandchildren winning their latest Little League game in the final innings.
And while Mitt is known for having his hair cut at Leon and Co., Ann can be found at CVS and the couple are big fans of Il Casale in Belmont Center, there is no mention on social media of those facts.
Rather, the candidate's Facebook page functions as a campaign blog: 'look what I did today.' You can go to music sites Spotify and Rdio (both of which can connect through Facebook) to hear Mitt discuss his position and opinion on a number of issues like tax and spending cuts. And follow the candidate on Twitter, but his tweets read like a position paper in 140 characters.
But Ann Romney will share her favorite recipe for American Oreo cookie balls on her Pinterest page where she identifies herself as "Mom of five boys. Grandmother of 18." Gawker has deemed her page far superior to that of First Lady Michelle Obama's. Ann's is filled with recipes, photos from the campaign trail, and a board dedicated to her favorite reads (which include Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.)
The five Romney sons also have social media presence, and sometimes will give their personal accounts on Twitter of their lives with a presidential candidate as a father.
Taggart Romney, who lives with this wife and four children on Greensbrook Way in Belmont and works in Lexington, has a less political edge to his tweets and Facebook posts, showing his fandom for Boston sports teams and his family; a son who is willing to post a cellphone photo busting his father for checking Twitter during Sunday school.
But social media's ability to welcome anyone to enter your world has had its downside for the family as Mary Romney, Mitt’s daughter-in-law who married his son Craig, took her mother blog, “Me & My Boy" private after several websites reprinted private photos of her father-in-law and her family.
Other Romney sons are on social media to show a few photos and update friends what they're doing and where. Ben Romney's Facebook profile photo has him climbing an unidentified mountain and telling his 717 friends that he's now a resident physician at the University of Utah Hospital.
There isn't a mention on it about his father's campaign.