Jan.25

Trump Twitter Spike Volleyball

Donald Trump. What can I say. He’s having what is arguably the most controversial run for any president in the history of the United States of America. Even without considering his policies, his reactions are alone Internet worthy for attention (could be a good or bad thing… depends on your view)

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While past candidates may have said things that seem appropriate in their time (which in hindsight was not), rarely have candidates said something so controversial that it seemed like they were from another time. Let’s not forget that many Americans agree with his political agenda, which is in their right to.

Say what you want about Trump, you have to hand it to him surging right wing politics. The people who disagree with him, come out in numbers, the people who support just love him. Hate or love it, Trump is a real contender because the moment a candidate rallies up opposing people, he is winning and he has the right to boast about it.

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Trump may likely go on to win the Republican nomination and rightly so because he’s done something to the elections that will change it for years to come. Trump is a vocal and outwardly spoken individual and it shows in his social media engagement, specifically his spikes.

What are Spikes?
Spikes are data points in a graph that suddenly change upward without any clear prediction or trend to suggest it might change. Spikes can be caused by uncontrolled events or data points that are just outliers and need to be looked at independently in a qualitative context. Trump has… a few to many spikes?

We looked at Trump’s twitter engagement. We’ve been collecting Trump’s data for over the last few months to study if his success is part in play with his extroverted social media habits. Let’s start with an overview of his Twitter account metrics. We created this using the Crowdbabble.

@realDonaldTrump_Twitter_Overview_09012015_01252016

As you can see, he is doing well with impressive growth in followers and engagement.

Trump is famous for his bravado,  so let’s focus on engagement. He’s known to tweet at people with interesting comments, which  often spread like wildfire. Twitter either favourites, retweets or replies back, sometimes with support or other times with vengeance.

The graph below shows Trump’s engagement from September 1st, 2015 to January 21, 2016. As you can already see, the engagement spikes are massive and quite massive. I highlighted the ones in green circles that I thought were interesting and also happen to correlate to major events that took place on those days. Trump increases his own tweets every time these events occur to make sure he is the loudest voice on Twitter. Funny enough… it works. His metrics are as follows:

Trump has many retweets and many  favourites with a total engagement of 13 422 174 over the months. This is quite impressive on his own right. For many, including myself, he is merely entertainment because I am not an American, but for many Americans, he simultaneously represents hope or a sign of worse to come.

However, from a social media analytics perspective, Trump is exciting to watch. Trump knows how to latch on an engage. It’s why I decided to look at his Twitter engagement and pay attention to his data spikes.

Crowdbabble Engagement

Everytime his engagement spikes, it is almost always related to something Trump does that is not normal political speak. Let’s go through all his spikes starting with #1.

1. #AskTrump

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When Trump was conducting interviews with various news outlets, Donald Trump tweeted out a hashtag called #asktrump where he was giving real time responses. There is nothing special about #asktrump causing the spike because one would expect a higher engagement with these hashtags, people are wanting to ask questions and talk to Trump. If this didn’t cause a spike, then we know it wasn’t working for his campaign. Trump has always been a front runner, so I expected a spike here. Many users abused this campaign, but it still made him trend on Twitter… something many of the candidates would’ve loved to see  for themselves.

2. The Democratic Debate

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Trump’s biggest spike. If you want examples of the very definitions of mockery and negative criticism, check out any tweet by Trump during the democratic debate. I don’t think he said one positive thing about the democratic candidates or even acknowledged basic evidenced based facts. However, his engagement spike was through the roof. It was by far his highest engagement rate over the last few months.

How did Trump create a massive engagement spike? Simple. He tweeted… a lot! He tweeted about literally everything and in some cases, by the second. Trump already has a great baseline engagement rate, but combine that with plenty of opportunities to like or retweet his tweets and the fact Trump was commenting on democrats when many of his fans are fanatic republicans, this was a recipe of success.

If his goal was to take some energy away from his democratic contenders, it certainly worked. For some users, he was trending along with the democratic trend. He is the ultimate troll and I kind of respect that as a troll myself.

3. News Interviews

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If anyone of you have seen Trump’s interviews, you’ll understand why he gets a lot of engagement. The media does a fantastic job to integrate social media discussions into their broadcasts, of course platforms like Twitter are a favourite! Trump had a few interviews scheduled for during the day of the third spike and people rallied to Trump’s twitter account. There were a whole range of tweets and bounced between so many issues including bringing up Megan Kelly, which he had a fallout with over her questions.

Trump spikes again.

4. Republican Criticism

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I think what’s more fascinating about Trump’s strategy is how much he hates the established Republican base in Washington. This speaks to many voters who are tired of both parties, and rightly so for some issues. You can’t blame people who have not seen a lot of change be angry with many Republican leaders that control both the Senate and the House. It’s frustrating.

Trump represents an anti-establishment mentality that many Americans feel. It’s similar to what happened in Toronto many ears ago where Torontians wanted drastic change… this led to Rob Ford. He is what Toronto’s former Mayor Rob Ford is to America, he is the anti-politician. The truth is, it’s not all bad. At least we are discussing things about politics that haven’t been discussed in years, simply from a lack of interest from the public.

Whenever Trump criticizes fellow Republican candidates in the harshest and bluntest way possible, he’s going to get a lot of attention from the media and passionate Republicans. This sometimes creates spikes like #4 on the graph.

On this particular day (October 25th, 2016) he heavily criticized leading candidates like Ben Carson and boasting about his poll numbers in New Hampshire. Some of his tweets had over 5000 engagement points, resulting in a spike in Twitter activity for that day.

How do you even respond to that!? It’s comical and insulting at the same time. Ouch.

5. The Muslim Ban

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Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims into the United States received almost widespread condemnation from both Republicans and Democrats alike. To give you an idea of how widespread the criticism was, former Vice President Dick Cheney, who is considered by many a neoconservative basically felt that Trump’s proposal infringes on the values that American has held dearly.

Mistake Cheney

His engagement on Dec 6th was his second highest Twitter spike since the Democratic debates. Even if Trump wants to ban Muslims, the constitution prevents him and besides, that’s not even the right thing to do.

It seems Trump has us on the leash to control his Twitter engagement. He acts on a simple cycle of shock, awe and react. It doesn’t even matter what he says, it’s going to drive in more attention and traffic to his campaign.

Give credit where credit is due…. Trump controls the American Twitteroverse.

Update – ANOTHER SPIKE!
I wrote the article before his most recent Twitter spike (green circle). On Friday, January 22nd, he retweeted an apparent Neonazi affiliated Twitter account which caused quite a stir on Twitter, Reddit and the Media.

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Only Trump can retweet a Neonazi affiliated group and gain followers through engagement. He is one for the history books and we have the data to prove it.