Brandwatch, the social media and analytics specialist, tracked sentiment around the leaders during the event, which saw one million mentions during #LeadersDebate, with more than 120,000 unique authors posting.
The analysis found that Sturgeon received 76.1 per cent of positive sentiment versus 23.9 per cent of negative sentiment, putting her way ahead of any of the main leaders.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg received 42.5 per cent positive vs 57.5 per cent negative; Labour leader Ed Miliband 33.5 per cent positive vs 66.5 per cent negative and Conservative leader David Cameron 31 per cent positive vs 69 per cent negative.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage saw only 23.8 per cent positive vs 76.2 per cent negative sentiment. These figures were heavily impacted by his comments on HIV and immigration, the research found.
Sturgeon also came out as the winner in a poll of almost 200 politics and business leaders by MHP Communications. During an event on the evening of the debate, Sturgeon won 38.5 per cent of the vote.
This is despite their view at the beginning of the event, when 36 per cent thought Cameron would win, followed by Sturgeon (28 per cent), Miliband (20 per cent), Farage (eight per cent) and Clegg (eight per cent).
Natalie Bennett and Leanne Wood both trailed far behind for the Green Party and Plaid Cymru respectively, with none of those polled thinking they would win the debate.
Jonathan Lomax, MHP’s head of corporate affairs, said: "Our snap poll among party attendees showed that Nicola Sturgeon came out on top, proving that the SNP tide is still very much flowing.
"While there wasn’t a knockout blow for anyone on the night, and nor did anyone really crash and burn, it did give all the party leaders the chance to rehearse the lines we can expect to hear many times over the next 32 days."