Donald Trump has 6.51 million Twitter followers, up from 4.6 million in October. More people follow him than follow New Yorker magazine, BBC News, and the Washington Post, and he is rapidly approaching more followers than the official account of the President of the United States (@potus). His strategy for using the platform to push his political agenda, attack his opponents, and shape the conversation around his campaign is working and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon.
In an October 2015 article on Trump’s use of the medium, the New York Timesrecounts an interview with the would-be Republican nominee for president in which he “compared his Twitter feed to a newspaper with a single, glorious voice: his own.” In describing his presence on Twitter, Trump argues that it’s given him a voice to confront his rivals. “I have more power than they do. I can let people know that they were a fraud,” he told the Times. “I can let people know that they have no talent, that they didn’t know what they’re doing. You have a voice.”
Trump started his account in 2009 and up to this point has tweeted over 31,000 times. The New York Times reports that the most frequently used words in his tweets are: “great” (more than 700 times), “winner” or “winners” (43), and “loser” or “losers” (34). According to an examination of over 6,000 tweets from Trump’s account by the Washington Post, the 69-year-old billionaire:
“We’ve never seen this before in politics,” Mr. Berland, of marketing firm Edelman Berland said. “This is not just a rally that happens once in a while. This is a continuous Trump rally that happens on Twitter at all hours. He fills the Twitter stadium every day.”
And who is he filling his Twitter stadium with? People like 53-year-old project manager Eric Popkin. “It’s like a sports team. If you are from New York, and you like the Jets or Giants and somebody is bad-mouthing your team, there is kind of knee-jerk reaction to defend them,” Mr. Popkin told the New York Times. “We have an emotional connection to him. It’s good old human nature.” Trump’s followers love his online twitter campaign. His tweets have been retweeted twice as much as Hillary Clinton’s.
Like much of Trump’s political campaign, his social media strategy is proving effective, more so than his opponents. It’s hard to argue with six and half million followers, as so many of Trump’s political and social rivals have experienced. And to his credit, Trump has hit the mark with his messaging. His online campaign is resonating with a vast segment of the American population, one that likes vitriol, name-calling, and bullying. As one of his followers described him, Trump is “the Ernest Hemingway of a hundred and forty characters.” I’m not sure I’d go that far, but the self-styled defender of the common man certainly would like to think he is.