#PiliPinasDebates2016: Who dominated the online conversation?

MANILA, Philippines – Five candidates vying for the country’s top post squared off Sunday, February 21, 2016 in the first of three official presidential debates. It didn’t take long for the exchanges to heat up. 

Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Grace Poe, and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas faced off at the Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro in the first leg of the PiliPinas Debates 2016 organized by the Commission of Elections in partnership with GMA Network and the Philippine Daily Inquirer. (READ: The Cagayan de Oro Presidential Debate: Summary and highlights)

It was the first time in almost a quarter of a century that the Comelec hosted a presidential debate, and the first time a presidential debate was held in Mindanao. (READ: What to expect in the Comelec presidential debate)

As expected, the event made quite a buzz in social media. Here, we take a look at the numbers, with much of the data and analytics coming from Radian 6, an automated solution under the Salesforce brand that provides social media monitoring and analysis.


The official hashtag of the debate was included in more than a million tweets during the event, even reaching the #1 trending spot both locally and worldwide. According to data from Twitter and posted by GMA News, the tweet volume for the event reached a max of 15,000 tweets per minute, with an average of 8,000 tweets/min during the two-hour event.

40% of Facebook users who were engaged in the discussion were aged 18-24 years old, according to Facebook demographics reported by GMA. 31% were aged 25-34 years old.

58% of the users were women, and 42% were men, according to the same data from Facebook.

Conversation about the debates started to peak one hour before the start of the event and continued well after the light has been dimmed and the mic turned off.

The overall sentiment about the debate was generally neutral, with more positive posts than negative.


Who dominated the conversation?

When it came to social mentions, Duterte came out on top, with a 32.3% Share of Voice (SoV), which measures how well a brand, keyword, or name fares against its competitors. This takes into account mentions in Facebook posts, tweets, blogs, forums including replies, and mainstream news.

Mar Roxas came in a close second, with 30.4% of the online conversation. The vice president and former Makati City mayor Binay got 21.6%, Senator Santiago with 8.7%, and Senator Poe with 7%.

Mentions about Duterte was the most consistent throughout the event, but the conversation about Roxas had the highest peak, surging at around 7pm.



The conversation about Jejomar Binay

Binay had the third largest share when it came to the conversation online, with most of the mentions coming from Twitter. Data from Radian 6 shows that 99.9% of the mentions about the vice president came from the microblogging site, and about 0.1% coming from mainstream news.


Of the more than 66,000 mentions of the VP, 93.6% were generally neutral statements, 3.6% negative, and 2.8% positive. (READ: Binay ‘lackluster’ in 1st presidential debate – analysts)



The conversation about Miriam Santiago

While many expected Defensor-Santiago to dominate and come out swinging, her performance during the debate was more subdued, at least when compared to what most of the public expected.

This also reflected online, with the lady senator getting only around 25,700 mentions, 99.9% of which came from Twitter.

In spite of this the senator's humor and wit still managed to win over netizens. The social sentiment of the senator was still on the neutral side, with more positive posts than negative ones.


The conversation about Rodrigo Duterte

Analysts saw Davao City Mayor Duterte playing safe in the debate, refusing to rebut others and instead agreeing with them on many issues. This, however, did not stop the tough-talking mayor from dominating the online conversation.

Data from Radian 6 shows Duterte had at least 105,000 mentions, mostly from Twitter.


Posts about the Davao City mayor were generally neutral, with positive mentions outnumbering negative ones. His promise of eradicating corruption and crime in just a few months if elected resonated well with netizens.


Several Rappler polls even show Duterte as the consistent winner of the debate, at least online.

The conversation about Grace Poe

In what many dubbed as a strong performance, Senator Grace Poe managed to come out as the dark horse in the debates, winning over netizens when it comes to sentiments.

While her number of mentions are relatively low, the lady senator managed to win Rounds 2 and 3, according to Rappler editors.

Online, most of the support for Poe came from Twitter.


Most of the conversation about Poe was neutral, although she had more positive mentions than negative ones.




The conversation about Mar Roxas

Mar Roxas came out swinging at the debate, attacking other candidates during his opening statement.

As with the other candidates, nearly all the talk about Roxas came from Twitter.


While most of the posts are neutral, it is notable that Roxas had a lot of negative mentions, 4.4% (or more than 4,000 mentions), compared to 3.5% positive ones.

Described as an interactive experience for Filipinos worldwide, the PiliPinas Debates 2016 definitely got voters more involved in the upcoming elections. Be it at home or online, these events will do a lot in ensuring voters are informed come election day. (READ: #AnimatED: Let’s get serious with presidential debates)

The next leg of the PiliPinas Debates 2016 will be this March 20, 2016 in the Visayas. It will be organized by the Comelec, in partnership with The Philippine Star and BusinessWorld. – Rappler.com

Conrado, or Billy as he is fondly called, is a Senior Writer for AFDigital. He is a news hound, a journalist, a motivator, and a home cook who considers himself as the third member of 'The Fabulous Baker Brothers'. When he's not in the kitchen, he spends his time reading, travelling, sleeping, or writing. Follow Billy on Twitter, @pilsBILLYdohboy.

Paolo B. Aguas is a Reports Analyst for AFDigital. A film lover by heart, he is a connoisseur of fine rhum and artisanal lechon. He is very passionate about the Boston Celtics and you are likely to find him at a basketball court nearby in his spare time. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter, @fearthebeardPA.

AFDigital is a Creative Marketing Technology Services company that serves big clientele locally and internationally. It is also the Authorized Reseller and Services Partner of Salesforce Marketing Cloud in Asia.

Radian6 is an online tool under the Salesforce brand. This social media monitoring tool helps organizations dynamically engage customers through social media platforms.