Clinton’s Social Media Buzz-Grab Falls Short in Debate


You can’t win ‘em all.

Hillary Clinton has been commanding an ever-growing lead in most national voter polls through the general election’s debate season. But when it comes to social media chatter, the Democratic presidential nominee still fell short in her final showdown with GOP candidate Donald J. Trump.

Trump dominated conversations on Twitter and Facebook as well as in Google searches during the third and final debate, according to data provided to Bloomberg BNA by the companies. Google search interest in Clinton has been declining through debate season, but the Democratic nominee has been catching up to Trump on Twitter and Facebook, according to a Bloomberg BNA data analysis.

debate graph 2


Source: Company data

Clinton’s buzz-grab from Trump is noteworthy because her campaign has struggled from the outset to engage younger voters and fight her image as a less-than-savvy tech user.  Trump’s notorious tweets, in contrast, have been widely circulated in the media and took center stage in his campaign messaging.

Of course, not all social media chatter is positive. The only fact-check question that topped Google searches for all three debates was about Clinton’s email-deleting, a debacle that has become a central point of criticism for her campaign, according to a Bloomberg BNA analysis of Google Trends data. Meanwhile, Trump’s debate talk denying initial support of the Iraq war and attempting to explain his derogatory statements about women have generated some of the top searches, fact-check inquiries and tweeted moments of all three debates, according to the analysis.

Although the debates had no shortage of sensational social media spikes, the overall top talked about topics online reflected Americans’ concerns on overseas policies. “Terrorism” and “Foreign Affairs” were within the top five most-tweeted topics during each debate, according to a Bloomberg BNA analysis of Twitter data. The top-tweeted moments during each debate included mentions of ISIS, Syria and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Facebook, “ISIS” was either the first or second most talked about topic in all three debates, according to the analysis.

Google, Facebook and Twitter will continue to play an important, but perhaps quieter, role in the electoral process as the country enters the campaign’s final days. Each company has launched new tools this year to help educate voters about the candidates and navigate the voter registration process in a push to turn buzz into action.

Their efforts could have just that effect: Google search interest in early voting spiked 330 percent in the last minutes of debate, the company said.