Some things I learned following Trump on Twitter

Over the past few weeks I have been paying much closer attention to Trump on Twitter in order to try to understand why he is so popular there, about his personality, and the community detractors and fans who follow him.

1. Trump’s Twitter account is really popular, obviously. In terms of engagement such as likes, comments, and re-tweets, Trump has the most popular and active account on Twitter, followed by Obama, but he tweets much less. Trump tweets regularly get between 30 to 50-thousand likes and thousands of comments.

2. Trump made Twitter great again. Love him or hate him, Trump played a major role in the resurrection of Twitter. In 2015-2016 Twitter was close to dead, and its stock price had fallen from as high as $55 in 2013 after its IPO, to as low as $16. Twitter was mostly used for celeb gossip and social-justice causes, but Trump began the trend of conservative politicians joining Twitter and increasing their presences there, and this catered to a demographic that is older and has more disposable income, as opposed to celeb accounts that cater to young people, who tend to have less money. Trump’s immense popularity and controversy generates millions of pageviews and millions ad-clicks and impressions, hence more revenue for Twitter. Trump also made Twitter more relevant as a go-to news and media source. When a story breaks, rather then checking Facebook, turning on CNN, or visiting news sites, people go directly to Twitter. Consequently, Twitter’s stock price has recovered to the low 40’s, a gain of over 165 percent from its 2016 lows.

3. The comments are a shitshow, as would be expected given the absence of any sort of moderation or rules besides Twitter’s TOS (which as we all know, is not enforced equally). By my estimate, as many as 80-90 percent of the comments are critical Trump, and such comments rise to the top due to Twitter’s comment sorting algorithms, although, occasionally, pro-Trump comments will do well. It’s interesting, if not somewhat unsettling, how both sides want to see their respective opponents in jail, as if that is the solution to political disagreement, whether it’s Hillary for prison or Trump for prison. It’s strait from the Soviet playbook.

4. Trump really wants to be liked and ‘do good’. There are two contrasting sides to Trump: his divisive public persona, yet also a compassionate side. Trump has been tweeting a ton about Hurricane Dorian, and he tweeted multiple times a life-stream of his attendance of a FEMA briefing. It’s evident he wants to help people affected by Dorian and that he is deeply engaged in what is going on. This suggests that Trump want to do good and be liked, even if his message is occluded by politics and personal and media biases. Despite the left-wing media narrative of how Trump disrespects foreign leaders and or how foreign leaders don’t respect Trump, Trump’s August attendance of the G-7 summit in France was a success, and Trump was magnanimous, almost to a fault, in praising his meeting with Macron, Trudeau and other leaders.

5. Trump is deft at switching from his playful side of taunting the media and other politicians, to being deadly serious, whether it’s about natural disasters or mass shootings, such as the recent shooting in Odessa, Texas that claimed five lives.

6. Trump tweets a lot. Trump is a prolific tweeter, much more so than Obama, who despite being on Twitter since 2007 (compared to Trump, who joined in 2009) has only 15-thousand tweets, compared to Trump’s 44-thousand. Trump will tweet as often as 25 times a day, often in bursts of 5 or more tweets. I’ve seen him post as many as 13 tweets in succession. It can be hard to keep up unless you have Twitter open all day.

7. Trump is really ‘dialed in’ to policy. Some may say Trump is nonchalant, indifferent, or intellectually lazy, but such labels would probably apply more to the past two presidents than Trump, who like Bill Clinton seems to know what is going on around him and is keeping close tabs on everything and everyone around him. Trump has intense interest in the Fed, China, the stock market, the US economy, natural disasters, and the media, in ways that past presidents have not. As president, Reagan spent month-long stretches on his ranch, possibly to escape the world around him and the commotion of Washington. George W. Bush was also similarly detached and delegated a lot to his advisers, especially Cheney. But Trump wants to dive head-first into what is going on. What is going with China, or about the G-7 meeting in France , which he attended and tweeted a lot about.