Tim Pawlenty announced he was forming a presidential exploratory committee via Facebook.
President Obama announced he was seeking reelection to the highest office in the country via a YouTube video.
Mitt Romney sent out his retort via Twitter.
Collectively, those developments have highlighted the prominent role social media will play in the 2012 presidential campaign.
The days of Howard Dean putting the outline of a baseball bat on a website and asking supporters to "fill it up" with donations seems so 2004.
The same is true for the supporter text-messaging that Obama and the other candidates employed in 2008 and still use today.
This election cycle, the announced, nearly announced, and potential candidates are taking full advantage of digital media to communicate their message directly to potential supporters.
It allows them to bypass what George W. Bush used to call "the filter," and what Sarah Palin has more tartly termed "the lamestream media."
For the candidates, it's also an affordable and immediate way to spread their views.
Go back no further than that 2004 campaign to see the evolution in full.
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry spent all of 2001 and 2002 traveling the country, building a network of financial supporters, and holding traditional rubber-chicken fundraisers as he prepared for his 2004 White House campaign.
He identified activists in each city, sent them a paper invitation, reconfirmed their attendance, and then came to town, sat through a series of introductory remarks, and made his pitch himself. Then he got on a plane, flew somewhere else, and repeated the exercise.
In 2003, Dean adviser Joe Trippi and other aides got the bright idea to harness the Internet to their advantage. They put the bat or a thermometer on Dean's website, sent out an email, and urged supporters to fill it up or "raise" the temperature.
Dean broke all sorts of fundraising records with far less of the in-person networking and travel wear-and-tear that had been the underpinning of Kerry's campaign.
In 2008, Obama proved deft at incorporating digital media into his campaign, so much so that he installed a new media office in the White House and began simultaneously releasing his weekly radio address with an online video.
Fast-forward four years and the now-president kicked off his second campaign with a tightly choreographed video that was posted on the date and time of his choosing: before sunrise Monday.
It featured a white man, Hispanic woman, and white woman, all from swing states: North Carolina, Nevada, and Colorado, respectively.
A fourth person featured was the prototypical idealistic college student, admittedly too young to vote for the president in 2008 but eager to do so four years hence.
The final speaker was an African-American woman, a silent reminder to the 2008 Democratic coalition that they helped make Obama is the country's first black president.
Even the message delivered by "Ed," the white man from North Carolina (incidentally, the state where the Democrats will hold their national nominating convention next year), included a pitch to another potent bloc: independents.
“I don’t agree with Obama on everything, but I respect him and I trust him," he said.
Romney, heading from Utah to Kansas as he continues to lay the foundation for his own announcement, didn't need a television or newspaper reporter to offer his response. He did it himself in fewer than 140 characters.
"@barackobama I look forward to hearing details on your jobs plan, as are 14m unemployed Americans," @MittRomney said in his cheeky post.
Pawlenty, meanwhile, showed how cognizant his campaign is of the power invested in social media.
He did Romney one better, giving his response via his own YouTube commercial.
"How can America 'Win the Future' when we're losing the present?" said Pawlenty, appropriating Obama's speech signature for his own purposes.
Then, dropping any pretense, the former governor looked directly into the camera and said, "In order for America to take a new direction, it's going to take a new president."
Last month, Pawlenty used a similar YouTube video in concert with his Facebook posting to announce his exploratory committee.
None of this is to say that there is no role for the mainstream media in the unfolding election cycle (note to self: insert sigh of relief here). The candidates themselves have affirmed its relevance.
Many of the potential GOP contenders have enriched themselves and built followings through commentary posts at the Fox News Channel.
Others, especially, Romney, have taken advantage of traditional news dissemination channels with op-ed pieces that, again, allow them to say exactly what they want to say, when they want to say it.
There are no immediate followup questions on the opinion pages.
And not for nothing, but all the candidates will count on the amplifying effects of traditional news coverage when they personally declare their candidacy.
While Obama announced his intentions Monday with a series of Internet bits and bytes that composed a video, eventually he's going to want to step in front of a live audience, with a red-white-and-blue backdrop, and ride a wave of free-media publicity with a traditional announcement.
If nothing else, it provides great crowd shots for future campaign videos.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.