Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz had many Americans spitting out their lattes over the weekend with his big 60 Minutes reveal that he’s thinking about running for president as an independent candidate. Amid his long list of criticisms of President Trump, he also took a shot at the tweeter-in-chief’s digital megaphone with a hint that his prowess on Twitter may be fading.
“Like most people, I’ve become bored with President Trump and his tweets,” Schultz quipped.
But have Americans really gotten bored with Trump’s tweets? It’s hard to tell due to the preponderance of bots and fake followers, but there’s no real indication of it. According to a historical analysis of Trump’s Twitter use, engagement keeps growing. It’s not even the end of the month, and the average number of retweets of Trump’s tweets has already climbed to an all-time high of 27,700 so far. The last time his tweets hit 25,000 retweets was last January. Since then, it’s ebbed and flowed, down to just 19,005 in September 2018 but increasing every month since then, hitting 22,683 in December 2018. The average number of likes per tweet has followed an almost identical trajectory, as you can see in the following chart, which was put together by social media analyst Luca Hammer for Fast Company, using data from the Trump Twitter Archive.
But fully 61% of Trump’s followers are fake right now, according to SparkToro, a search engine for “audience intelligence.” If that number is accurate (we reached out to Twitter about it but haven’t heard back yet), it’s far higher than almost all other major U.S. politicians. What’s more, the president’s share of fake followers seems to have slightly increased in the last few months, extrapolating from a day in mid-July 2018 when it was 56%, per SparkToro CTO Casey Henry. But the increase in fake followers is smaller than the increase in retweets and likes, so his account does seem to be growing in engagement.