Debates are a chance for candidates to demonstrate that they understand the pressing issues of the day. Debates also allow them to craft a presidential image.

Carly Fiorina stepped out of the shadow of Donald Trump and Jeb Bush Wednesday night to carve out an image as a fighter with remarkable command of foreign and domestic policy. Yet, on social media, her campaign didn’t use Facebook and Twitter to amplify her message.

Savvy campaigns use Twitter to extend the debate-stage conversation with journalists, supporters – and even their opponents.

Where Journalists Live

Twitter is where journalists live, and campaigns see Twitter as a place to prove why they won the debate and why their ideas are best for the country. Social media-aware campaigns use Facebook to share infographics, post edited video segments, and underscore their debate message. They talk to their supporters to help reinforce enthusiasm and increase knowledge of the candidate.

Fiorina’s campaign strategically used the buzz about her debate performance to fundraise online. They paid for a promoted tweet on the #gopdebate hashtag.


And, after the debate, one of her two Twitter accounts, @carlyforamerica, heavily retweeted messages from supporters and pundits that she won the debate. Her personal account and her Facebook page urged donations to keep her fighting.

But the messages that could amplify her presidential image and educate her supporters about her policy positions did not come through on social media–which increasingly is where public opinion is shaped.

This article was originally posted on The Conversation – a collaboration between editors and academics to provide informed news analysis and commentary that’s free to read and republish.