The first 100 days of President Donald J. Trump’s term have taken a toll on his Twitter numbers.
According to the Washington, D.C.-based division of ad agency Huge, even though Trump’s Twitter account has seen a 40 percent jump in followers, increasing from 20 million to 28 million since Inauguration Day, his engagement for @realDonaldTrump is slipping. In terms of retweets, replies and likes, the commander in chief’s engagement rate dropped by 66 percent in the past three months, from about 206,000 per tweet to less than 71,000 for some of his recent messages.
“Replies and retweets are a mix of positive and negative sentiment, but likes are typically a purer indication of support,” Mark May, vp of strategy at Huge, and his team of six researchers wrote in a blog post. (The Huge group focused solely on Trump’s personal account, as the current White House has been essentially utilizing @POTUS as a PR channel.)
May continued, “One hypothesis for the engagement erosion is that opponents of the president or his policies may be flagging in their opposition efforts and engaging less frequently. The data suggests otherwise, however. At the beginning of the term, 77 percent of engagements were likes or clear signs of support. This metric has declined as well, down to 64 percent in the most recent week. This means that the drop in engagement per tweet is attributable at least in part to fewer people showing support with a like. The total number of likes per tweet has also fallen sharply—a 72 percent drop since the president took office.”
Image credit: Huge
Huge exported all of Trump’s tweets and found that he was no longer tweeting 40 times per week as he had been doing before he was president, which should be good news to critics who have called on Trump to lay off Twitter a bit. The agency then manually scored each tweet according to attributes such as voice, tone, purpose, at whom it was directed and whether it contained policy content. Huge then added a layer of other stats to its analysis, chiefly the president’s approval rating at the time of each tweet and whether he had been was at the White House or Mar-a-Lago.
May’s group also analyzed 476 Trump tweets to get a peek into how his tone might affect performance, finding that 34 percent exhibited what they called an “agitated” voice. These instances entailed all caps (i.e., “FAKE NEWS”), exclamation points, putting thoughts together with multiple tweets, and bad grammar and punctuation.
“This is the voice that most authentically resembles the president when he is speaking without prepared remarks,” May’s team wrote. “It is strident, defiant and occasionally aggressive.”
They added, “After spiking at 44 percent of all tweets in February, the number of ‘agitated’ tweets has dropped to 30 percent in March and 26 percent of all tweets in April. ‘Prepared’ tweets show an inverse trend, rising steadily from 15 percent to their peak of 27 percent in April—the first point at which they eclipsed the hallmark ‘agitated’ tweets.”
Also, 41 percent of 45’s tweets, per Huge, simply announced his events or observations.
The remaining 5 percent of Trump’s Twitter messages have been retweets. May and his team also went into great detail about how Trump’s editorial strategy on the social platform has shifted, seemingly becoming more cautious.
Check out the rest of their analysis here.