Social Media Breakdown: GOP Debate

Foursquare check-ins by candidates and a YouTube video were the highlights of the social media efforts surrounding the debate.


By Jenna Withrow News Writer


TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 30, 2012) – The Republican Presidential Candidates Debate put the University of South Florida in the national spotlight on millions of television and computer screens.


To promote one of the largest political events in USF history, a multi-platform social media campaign was used. USF collaborated with NBC News to promote the debate via social media before, during and after the event. The partnership was quite successful.


Facebook was one of the most utilized sites for promoting the debate, providing a platform for users to discuss politics with other members of the USF community. In total, six status updates about the debate were posted on the USF Facebook page, garnering nearly 3,000 interactions (including likes, comments, and shares) from fans. On the day of the debate and the following day, the USF Facebook page gained nearly 200 new fans.


On a Facebook event page created for the Student Government Debate Watch Party, more than 900 users confirmed they would be attending. Facebook fans used the event page to ask questions, show support for candidates and express excitement for the event.


The official USF Twitter account teamed up with the NBC News Twitter account to promote the official debate hashtag, #FLdebate. Thousands of tweets were sent using the hashtag, including viewer comments and questions on the debate. During the debate and the following day, the USF Twitter account gained more than 100 new followers.


A Foursquare check-in giveaway during the Debate gained attention from the official Foursquare blog, with a post about USF. At the debate watch party, 100 students won free USF t-shirts for checking into the Watch Party on Foursquare. Nearly 200 people, including candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, checked into USF on Foursquare on the day of the debate.


But the most popular aspect of the debate across all social media sites was the moment when moderator Brian Williams said “Go Bulls” at the end of the debate. A short video clip of it that was posted on the official USF YouTube channel has more than 8,300 views, making it one of USF’s most popular YouTube videos. A blog post about the Bulls shout was uploaded to the USF Tumblr blog, and received more than 200 notes (including likes and reblogs).


For more information on USF Social Media, visit


Jenna Withrow covers social media and student life at USF. She can be reached at 813-974-0331.