- Associated Press - Sunday, April 6, 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - All three gubernatorial candidates in Maine are using Facebook well, but there are differences when it comes to their engagement with potential voters, according to two social media specialists.

Independent candidate Eliot Cutler’s campaign recently touted his popularity on Facebook, pointing out that more people have “liked” his page than that of Republican incumbent Gov. Paul LePage or Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud. But two social media specialists who analyzed the candidates for the Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/1mPBhZl) say Michaud and LePage have more people interacting with their campaigns on Facebook.

For example, Eliot’s individual posts are not as well “liked” or shared as often as content posted by his rivals.

Cutler has spent more than $16,000 for Facebook ads, compared to $4,500 by Michaud and none by LePage. Such ads can encourage Facebook users to like a page, “but you can’t force people to talk about you,” said Ryan Davis, vice president of community for Vocativ, a website that focuses on data-driven news. “(Cutler) has a bigger audience, but less engagement.”

Sean Carlson of the digital consulting firm Fitzgibbon Media, agreed.

“The size of your following means nothing,” he said. “If you can translate them into votes, that’s what is going to matter.”

Cutler’s campaign said getting to 20,000 “likes” was a significant achievement given that the other candidates are incumbents who both have political parties behind them.

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Information from: Portland Press Herald, http://www.pressherald.com