Are GOP candidates falling behind on Social Media?

Ever since the convergence of politics and social media first gained prominence during the 2008 presidential election, political candidates are expected to engage with their voters in new and creative ways through the Internet. So in the race to gain popularity online who is leading the pack?

On Twitter, Mitt Romney has about 376,000 followers, Newt Gingrich has more than 1.4 million followers, Rick Santorum has close to 165,000 followers and Ron Paul has about 27,500 followers.

They are all dwarfed by President Obama, who dominates the Twitterverse with more than 13 million followers.

Of the GOP candidates on Facebook, Romney last had about 1.5 million likes, Gingrich has 295,979 likes, Santorum has 177,829 likes and Paul with 908,056 likes.

But again, President Obama surpasses all the GOP candidates with 25.5 million likes.

James Andrews, a social media commentator and blogger for, founder of Social People and a Dewar's Delegate at the TED2012 global conference, noticed the Republican candidates "have not invested any time in developing a deep rich social media platform. They’re trying to turn it on now and that’s kind of late."

"This type of media is earned media," Andrews told Fox News. "There’s still an opportunity. They need a strategy, but it's not there."

A study by The Pew Research Center shows 73 percent of adult Internet users went online to get news or information about the 2010 midterm elections or to get involved in the campaign in one way or another.

Another recent study from Pew shows nearly three-quarters of social networking site users say their friends post at least some content related to politics on the sites from time to time. That amounts to 40 percent of the entire adult population.

Andrews said it's not just the number of followers each candidate has that is important, but the usage of those social media platforms combined with a willingness to experiment with other forums such as Tumblr, Instagram or documentary filmmaking.

Andrews said the Obama digital team is "starting to use a lot of non-traditional social media tools"  to engage with their voters online. He said the question presidential candidates have to ask is  "are you checking off a box that says social media or are your really trying to engage?"