A Digital PR View On Donald Trump And His Twitter Account
Wednesday, January 18th, 2017
on behalf of Holyrood PR
Can Donald Trump Save The Struggling Social Media Giant, Even As He Divides America?
TWITTER has been going through a difficult time of late – so that even the most committed power users have been asking how much longer it can survive.
User numbers have stalled. The stock price has slumped. While it is very publicly up for sale, none of the expected bidders are interested, with the likes of Disney citing the platform’s trolling problems as a huge turn off.
Now it turns out Donald Trump might just be Twitter’s saviour. And that could be the prompt for businesses like yours to look at this platform anew and work out if you are making the most of it.
The 140-character, microblogging service has become Trump’s main method of communication with the public, particularly during his lengthy election campaign. Experts will spend years examining the many, complex issues which helped Donald Trump sweep to power. But there’s little doubt that Twitter played a significant role.
Throughout the campaign, The Donald took to Twitter and his unvarnished commentary drove massive debate among both supporters and critics. As a result, many people who were poised to leave Twitter or had never signed up are suddenly more engaged than ever.
This influx of both attention and traffic must be a cause for celebration at Twitter HQ. Over the past year the company has had pitifully few other reasons for good cheer. Instead it has been reeling from a series of setbacks and criticism, including accusations of censorship and a systemic failure to challenge online trolls.
Suddenly Twitter is feeling relevant again and that might just be enough to reinvigorate the platform and help give it back some of its old sparkle. Who knows, it might even flush out a buyer, with the likes of Salesforce, Google and Disney all said to have looked closely at possible acquisition.
This could be an ideal point for your business to re-examine Twitter and how it could be better used to benefit your business, staff and customers. After all, the most powerful man on the planet has used the service liberally while turning the political landscape on its head. Meanwhile an army of new and re-engaged users are discovering the highs and lows of Twitter for themselves.
All of which means it’s well worth paying attention to. If you could use the help of communications experts to get the most from any social network, including Twitter, contact the team at Holyrood PR. Call on 0131 561 2244 or scroll to the end of this post for a simple contact form.
In the meantime, here’s our simple guide to understanding Trump on Twitter
WHAT’S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?
For a character as divisive and wilfully controversial as Trump, social media is a godsend – and while he is also comfortable on Facebook, the new President just loves Twitter. Unsurprisingly, the lure of watching his colourful and often incendiary musings – in real time – is compelling for millions of Twitter users.
Trump supporters feel he gives them a voice they lacked previously, so are enthusiastic in Retweeting and showing support for his messages. Those less sympathetic to the billionaire are just as busy condemning him and spluttering at how his unguarded and unfiltered commentary leaves them horrified, depressed or worried.
Long before taking office, the new President was already legendary for his late night and early morning Tweeting sessions, which have seen him wax lyrical about a huge range of subjects, from the performance of TV shows to attacks on big businesses that have caused major swings on the stock market.
It seems the new President has an itchy Twitter finger – and as well as helping bring about one of the unlikeliest political upsets in history, it is also proving to have profound effects in many other areas of day-to-day life.
Love Trump or loathe him, it’s hard to argue with the concept of social media being used to provide ‘transparent government’. Since the advent of such networks, enthusiasts have hoped that Twitter, Facebook and the like would help make those in public office both more accessible and more accountable.
Certainly, when it come to accessibility, The Donald has not been shy about sharing his thoughts on anything and everything. Which means that Americans (and the rest of us) can get to know his views on any subject. Often it appears he chooses to share such thoughts almost as soon as they pop into his head.
Trump and his advisors are bullish that he will continue to use Twitter as his main communication tool, sharing regularly and directly with the 20 million plus people who follow his @realDonaldTrump account.
That number will swell when he gets access to the @POTUS account, which comes with its own 13.5 million followers.
So, it can be argued that ordinary American citizens have never had greater access and insights to the mind and workings of the man charged with running their country and leading the global economy.
ACCESS ALL AREAS?
But critics don’t buy that having a real time hotline into the President’s mental musings via 140 characters actually counts as greater transparency or access.
In fact, the traditional political press are likely to have less contact and access with the man in the White House , exactly because the 45th President prefers to Tweet directly to the masses.
It’s recognised that a fundamental foundation of US freedoms and democracy is that the media on Capitol Hill asks the most difficult, searching questions and holds the President to account (Watergate, anyone?).
Less access to the President and his advisors could mean a great deal less accountability. For journalists, TV researchers and influencers, access to Trump’s Twitter stream is a poor substitute.
Likewise, while the Twitter numbers sound impressive (20 million followers for Trump, 13.5 million followers for the POTUS account), these can be misleading about how many people are really seeing Trump’d Tweets.
Only 86% of Americans have access to the internet and of those who are online, only around 24% are Twitter users. So, basic, back-of-a-fag-packet arithmetic suggests that only 66 million of the 319 million people in the US even have access to Twitter.
Since Trump’s 20 million followers include many non-Americans, the number of citizens who can see his Tweets is even smaller. That’s before crunching the numbers on the tiny percentage of Followers who actually see each Tweet.
POWER WITHOUT RESPONSIBILITY
As the old saying has it, with great power comes great responsibility.
However, critics say that doesn’t seem to have registered with Trump, who regularly Tweets opinions that are proved to be factually incorrect. So much so, that the Washington Post even developed a tool to fact check online stories.
Trump has also caused alarm in many quarters by taking to Twitter to aggressively challenge major companies over their business decisions that he disagrees with. Before taking up his new berth in the White House, Mr Trump took fire at firms as diverse as Ford, H&R Block, Vanity Fair, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler.
This is previously uncharted territory. In the spiritual home of the free market, it has been unthinkable for a President to interfere with businesses in this way.
Trump’s Tweets affected the stock price of many of the companies he targeted in this way – and while those cases happened before his inauguration, there is no sign that he will change while in the Oval Office.
As the markets try to adjust and big businesses contemplates a new world where the next major PR crisis could be an attack from the US President, the ripples are already being felt.
Reuters produced a detailed report on how Trump’s Tweets had affected the share value of the companies targeted. Meanwhile, an iPhone app called Trigger which monitors the Stock Market has added new functionality – specifically to track Trump’s business related Tweets.
All in all Trump may just be useful to Twitter in the short term while he is driving people to the platform. How long they’ll stick around for his particular brand of Tweeting is another thing altogether.
Don’t forget to check out the other insightful posts which are part of our Trump Survival Guide, on the PR lessons that savvy businesses can take from the new President
Holyrood PR is at the forefront of digital PR and we love to share our insight like this with clients and businesses like yours.
So, the unprecedented use of Twitter by a US President is affecting business practices, stock values, the mass media and even appears to have helped swing an election result. All of which shows that Twitter has real influence and reach.
While no business could or should try to emulate the new President’s Tweeting habits, there are important lessons to take away. Whether your business is active or not on Twitter, the fast-changing political and economic landscape means you can’t afford to miss out on Twitter’s part in this.
Our insightful services include social media audits, social media strategic advice, content planning, content delivery and managing social media accounts.
If you think your business could benefit from our expert guidance then we’d love to speak with you. Contacting us couldn’t be easier. Phone 0131 561 2244 or take a few seconds to complete the simple form, below, and we’ll get straight back to you.
Scott Douglas is the co-founder of the multi award-winning Holyrood PR, renowned public relations agency in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As well as providing expert PR services in Scotland and the UK, the former journalist heads a team which offers a host of other professional media services.
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