Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will announce his plans through Facebook and Twitter. (Mike Stewart/AP)

Gingrich will make the announcement first on Facebook and Twitter — a bow to the power of social media in politics — and then will sit down with conservative television personality Sean Hannity on Wednesday night for an interview. Gingrich is expected to make his first formal speech as a candidate on Friday at the Georgia Republican party convention.

The announcement is not terribly surprising as Gingrich has been eyeing the race for months and went through a bit of a false start in early March when one top aide said he was in the race only to be contradicted by other members of Gingrich’s leadership team.

For Gingrich, the presidential bid is a culmination of a long political career that saw him rise from a backbencher in Congress to the architect of the 1994 Republican revolution that saw the GOP take control of the House for the first time in 40 years.

Gingrich was elected Speaker of the new Republican majority and touted as a potential presidential candidate. But, four years later Gingrich left the House amid a tumultous personal life and following wrong-headed predictions about the 1998 election.

Since that time he has built an empire of outside groups — organized under the umbrella of an entity known as American Solutions — designed to forward his policy ideas as well as raise money for conservative causes.

Gingrich’s entrance into the race likely kicks off a period of frenetic activity in the 2012 sweepstakes. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is expected to make a final decision on the race by the end of the month — if not sooner — and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman is moving toward a bid.

Both former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty have formed exploratory committees and are expected to formally enter the race in the near-term.