As the USA enters a presidential election year, the role of campaigning using social media is sure to receive plenty of attention. To this end, Socialbakers has today published analysis on how each of the candidates in the running is performing on Facebook.

Looking at Democrat candidate Barack Obama and the seven Republicans still in the race, Socialbakers tracked their performance on Facebook throughout December 2011.

Ron Paul came out as the most ‘viral’ candidate, with 59,554 people talking about him on Facebook last week and the highest overall ‘viral reach’. This is calculated by taking the number of ‘likes’ and comments received, multiplied by the average number of friends per Facebook user. Paul also saw the greatest increase in engagement through December, up 69%. His nearest rivals in this respect were Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, with 58% and 57% increases respectively.

When it comes to interactivity, Michelle Bachmann was the subject of the most person-to-person interactions on Facebook, although Obama leads with 50% of the total interactions tracked. That said, he does have the largest number of Facebook fans, 24 million, compared to second place Mitt Romney, with 1.3 million. Being incumbent President certainly has its perks when it comes to Facebook fans.

Socialbakers says that it will continue to track the candidates’ Facebook performance through this month’s New Hampshire primary and during other noteworthy milestones on the campaign trail. Its December findings are summed up in the infographic below. You can view a larger version here.

socialbakers infographic Dec01 Dec31 On Facebook, Ron Paul is the most viral US presidential candidate [Infographic]