Fox News Gets Debate Engagement Bump

Published on Mar 4th, 2016

by Jack Weinstein

Fox News again took the top spot among media during a Republican presidential debate.

The conservative news network, which hosted the 11th GOP debate Thursday night in Detroit, generated more than 1.5 million actions (likes, comments, shares and retweets on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. That’s 256% more than the engagement generated by CNN, which came in second among media on the night with 430,000 actions.

The debate was an engagement bonanza for Fox News. While other networks and publications saw their cross-platform engagement decline on Thursday compared with Wednesday, Fox News saw a 39% day-to-day increase.

Fox News generated 84% of its engagement from Facebook, where it was the most-engaged brand on the platform in 2015 . The most-engaged post included a message reminding its audience to tune in .

Fox News also got an engagement bump from Donald Trump, in spite of the network’s feud with the polarizing GOP front-runner. Facebook posts that mention Trump generated 31% more actions than Fox News’ average content on the platform. It’s most-engaged post that mentions Trump includes a statement from Miley Cyrus about her plans should Trump become president.
A Fox New anchor was also the subject of the most-engaged post about the debate. Instagram posted a photo featuring Fox New anchor Bret Baier, who served as one of three moderators during the debate. The post, which includes insights from Baier about moderating a debate, generated 426,000 actions.

Trump Wins Again, but Rubio Goes on Offensive

Among candidates, only John Kasich saw a day-to-day increase in engagement as Fox News did from Wednesday to Thursday. But it was nowhere near enough to dethrone Trump as the social media winner among Republicans.

Trump generated nearly 1.5 million total actions, 286% more than Ted Cruz with 383,000. Marco Rubio and Kasich were a distant third and fourth with 81,000 and 51,000 actions, respectively. Trump generated 95% of his engagement on Facebook.

Trump’s top posts on Facebook and Twitter attacked Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential candidate. Romney recently criticized Trump, calling him a fraud and phony . However, Trump's top debate-related tweet appealed to fans of Ben Carson , who didn’t participate on Thursday. Carson hasn’t suspended his campaign, but Trump’s tweet insinuates that it's only a matter of time.

While Trump was attacking Romney, at least one of his challengers was attacking him. Rubio’s most-engaged Instagram post featured a photo with #NeverTrump, a slogan that appears to be a new campaign strategy.

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