Posted: Feb 8, 2012 5:51 PM by Marnee Banks (KXLH Helena)
Updated: Feb 8, 2012 6:14 PM
HELENA- Montana politicians are increasingly using social media to campaign, gain supporters and get their message out.
With more than 6,500 friends on Facebook, Republican Montana gubernatorial candidate Corey Stapleton says he is connecting with more Montanans than any other candidate.
"In the early days it was a few people commenting, then it became a few hundred, now as you mentioned thousands of people tune in."
Stapleton also uses the micro-blogging service Twitter to get his message out, but he says the dialogue he has with voters on Facebook is proving to be effective.
"I have almost a daily conversation on Facebook, so it isn't even strange anymore that I will get up in the morning, or maybe it's a night and I will just post something that matters to Montana."
But Stapleton isn't the only candidate using new ways of communicating with voters. Democrat Steve Bullock announced his campaign with a YouTube video.
"I wanted to break it online so that my friends, supporters, people all across Montana knew first, knew what was going on," he said.
Bullock says not all of his supporters were able to attend his campaign kickoff, so he used the video to connect directly with Montana voters.
"I wanted the voters to hear why I was running for governor and what I wanted, not to have it filtered second or third-hand through either regular media or other individuals."
Republican Ken Miller is using text messages to rally supporters; when he has an event he sends out a text and anyone who has subscribed to his text alerts will know what is going on with the campaign
"The thing that I think I find the most encouraging is that everyone thinks it's just the young, and all the college students definitely use the text messaging and the Facebook, but the grandmas and the grandpas that are into it as well is incredible," Miller said.
While the three candidates may not agree on policy they do appreciate the power of social media, but hasten to add that nothing beats the power of meeting people face-to-face.