There's a report out this morning that says staffers write a lot of President Trump's tweets, but that they try hard to mimic his voice.
This includes creative grammar and unusual capitalization--but not intentional misspellings.
Twitter is now the primary way the president communicates with the American people. He's really, really good at it: 38,000 tweets, 52 million followers, and the ability to move markets with a single word.
Yet, it's still surprising how many "elites," for lack of a better term, have no understanding of what Trump is doing on Twitter. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, you should really take a look at how he communicates on social media--and be open enough to learn.
Below, we'll look at the strategy behind Trump's Twitter feed. Then, we'll examine four specific tactics he uses to build rapport with his staunchest supporters.
1. The authenticity factor.
Love him or hate him, Trump comes through as a person who says exactly what he thinks, when he's thinking of it. This apparently leads his staff to do their best imitation of Trump in order to create a feeling of authenticity, when he's really not authentically behind the tweets. Ironic!
2. The immediacy factor.
During Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, an utterly absurd total of 22 people reportedly had to sign off on the language of any single tweet. Not so much with Trump, who creates a sense that you're getting extreme immediacy, almost intimacy, from the leader of the free world. Smart!
3. The "setting traps" factor.
If you take nothing else away from this analysis, remember this: Every time Trump misspells a word, or capitalizes the wrong one, or mangles some grammar rule, he's laying a trap--a trap for the "elites" (loosely defined) who are most likely to mock and correct him. As soon as they do that, anyone who calls Trump out quickly for these pedantic rules looks petty, and builds walls between themselves and the majority of Americans who Just. Don't. Care. Tricky!
Before we move on, think of some of the common strategies Trump doesn't use.
He doesn't offer apologies or olive branches, except when he believes adversaries have already acquiesced to whatever he wants them to do. He doesn't try to entertain or make people laugh.
Instead, he tweets as if he's saying exactly what he thinks, and doing it in a way that positions his opponents as opposing not just him but also his supporters.
So let's look at the tactics. Unlike his strategic aims, these might not amount to replicable lessons for you. However, they provide great examples of how many of the things he does in tweets--even the seeming mistakes--are done in furtherance of strategic objectives.
1. Trumpian emphasis.
Trump throws out the traditional rules of grammar by emphasizing words in highly unusual ways: especially by capitalizing words that wouldn't normally be capitalized, or dropping in interjections like his classic "Sad!" Take a look at this much discussed example from over the weekend, where "Political Purposes" is capitalized.
I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
A majority of Trump's tweets go up in the early morning, when he's reportedly watching cable news. Whether by design or as a result of his TV viewing habits, this means people know when to check Twitter to see what he's said today. It also means his early morning tweets can drive the entire day's worth of news coverage out of Washington.
3. Simple language.
No matter what you think of President Trump, I guarantee you have never had to look up any of the words he uses in his tweets. (Fun fact: In my initial draft of this article, I headlined this item, "Simplicity of Language." That would have been very un-Trump.)
It's never "The New York Times." It's 'The Failing New York Times.' For that matter, it was never just Hillary Clinton, but "Crooked Hillary Clinton," or "Lyin' Ted Cruz," or "Cryin' Chuck Schumer." Of all politicians in history, Trump has understood the value of branding -- licensing the Trump brand is responsible for a big chunk of his fortune.
Things are really getting ridiculous. The Failing and Crooked (but not as Crooked as Hillary Clinton) @nytimes has done a long & boring story indicating that the World's most expensive Witch Hunt has found nothing on Russia & me so now they are looking at the rest of the World!-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2018
Were these tactics part of some thought-out communications plan? Were they just a function of how Trump naturally talks? Regardless, it seems clear that having realized they work for him, he's doubled and tripled down on them.
The big takeaway? Find your own authentic voice and stick to it. You don't need to feel one way or another about Trump as a president to agree he does this kind of communication very well.