- Twitter followers: 7.91m
- Facebook fans: 7.3m
- Instagram followers: 1.4m
- YouTube views: 5.3m
Donald Trump is no conventional candidate for the US presidency and his use of social media has been anything but conventional as well.
Social media has been dubbed the “real Trump card in the US election” by professor John Naughton and the numbers demonstrate why: according to an analysis by social media management firm SocialFlow, Trump has dominated the political conversation on Twitter, where he has posted more than 30,000 tweets.
By the company’s estimate, between March 2015 and February 2016, US social media users spent more than 1,200 years reading about The Donald on social media.
The billionaire businessman would have had to spend $380m if he sought to generate the same amount of attention through paid ads.
There’s a caveat though: much of the attention Trump has garnered on social media has been generated with controversial tweets and retweets like the one below, which took aim at the wife of his then-competitor, Ted Cruz.
“@Don_Vito_08: “A picture is worth a thousand words” @realDonaldTrump #LyingTed #NeverCruz @MELANIATRUMP pic.twitter.com/5bvVEwMVF8“
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2016
Trump’s own wife has publicly revealed her wish that her husband ease up on his tweeting, a sentiment likely to be echoed by many social media experts.
But despite the fact that he has taken “authenticity” to a whole new level, embracing posts that contain everything from controversial subject matter to amusing misspellings, Trump’s success in the Republican primaries suggests that perhaps there really is no such thing as bad publicity on social media, at least for the time being.
Interestingly, despite his unique approach to social media, Trump isn’t without counsel.
But unlike the Democratic candidates, Trump’s social media advisor, 29-year-old Justin McConney, doesn’t have political campaign experience.
He began working with Trump in 2011, before his White House bid began, and appears to have encouraged but not controlled the presumptive Republican nominee’s prolific social media use.
According to Politico, Trump “functions as his own communications strategist” and calls the shots…
[Trump] takes occasional tweet suggestions from those around him but composes most himself, tapping them into his Samsung smartphone, calling them into his office or dictating them to a nearby aide.
He also decides which of his supporters to retweet, a hallmark of his Twitter feed.
So far, it’s hard to argue that Trump’s unconventional approach to social media hasn’t been successful, but as the general election nears, we’ll check in to see how the candidates’ respective social media campaigns evolve and fare.