Trump Wins GOP Debate Engagement Battle

Published on Jan 15th, 2016

by Jack Weinstein

If Donald Trump were to describe his social media victory in the aftermath of the sixth Republican Presidential Debate on Thursday, he’d probably say something like: “It wasn’t even close.”

He would be right.

Trump generated more than 1.5 million social actions (likes, comments, shares and retweets) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. That’s nearly 395% more engagement than Ben Carson, the second most-engaged GOP candidate on all three platforms on debate day.


As Trump traded barbs with Ted Cruz about Cruz’s citizenship and “New York values,” his audience engaged. He posted the most-engaged debate-related content Thursday on Facebook and Instagram .

Trump generated 78% of his total actions on Facebook, where he expressed his frustration with the state of the country. He has found success on social in the past by criticizing the president .



Paul Boycotts Debate, Goes Live on Periscope

While Ben Carson was the second-most engaged candidate behind Trump, Rand Paul was third. Paul was scheduled to appear in the first of two GOP debates, but elected not to participate . Instead, he answered questions live on Periscope in a Town Hall style format. His most-engaged posts on three platforms promoted the event with #RandRally.



Ted Cruz, who was lauded in the media for his debating skills , finished fourth among the candidates. Marco Rubio finished fifth, but did post the top debate-related tweet among Republicans of the night.

Among the most-engaged candidates on social during the debate, Paul also led in amplification (the percentage of his posts that were shared and retweeted by his audience). Sharing is the most coveted of social actions , because the value of that endorsement carries a lot of credibility.

Fox Business, Fox News Stay On Top

Debate host Fox Business generated the most-engaged debate-related Facebook post using #GOPDebate with a photo urging viewers to tune-in and providing a link with instructions.

The network promoted a the same message when it previously hosted the GOP Debate on Nov. 10. The formula works.



Fox News continued its social dominance among the media during debates . The network generated nearly 1.4 million social actions, 89% more than CNN, the next most-engaged media property. The Huffington Post, ABC News and The New York Times rounded out the top five.

Fox News outpaced the rest of the media on Facebook and Instagram. On the photo-sharing platform, it used the same formula in posting the 10 most-engaged Instagram posts. The posts included a quote from the candidate under their photo .

Comments from the Opposition

Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton posted the most-engaged debate-related tweet of the night with her defense of the president, who was widely criticized by not just Trump, but all of the Republican candidates.



As he did during the State of the Union , when he didn't post, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders stayed out of the social media conversation about the debate.

What did you think about the debate? Did one moment stand out enough that you engaged with one of the candidates on social? Let us know in the comment section.

Now it’s time to get in touch!

With all the ways to talk to us, there’s no excuse not to.