How smartphones upended presidential debate strategy

The third team, code-named the “Rebel Alliance,” includes about a dozen aides who will focus on a network of progressive Facebook pages such as Occupy Democrats and other liberal influencers to mold the broader social media conversation about the debate.

“We are just increasingly going to see people watching this via clips — watching it later on YouTube, going back and trying to search things really quickly,” said Biden’s digital director, Rob Flaherty. “Reporter rapid response is happening on Twitter. But real people, when they’re trying to figure out, ‘What’s going on in the debate?’ — they’re going to Google.”

Flaherty said the campaign is also planning a Google ad buy for after the debate — based on possible search terms that come up during the course of the 90-minute event — along with other digital buys.

The moves show how campaigns are increasingly focused on driving conversations about the debate on social media, outside the mainstream press — both in real time and in the days afterward.