Donald Trump’s tweets may make headlines every day, but the number of people reading them on Twitter could be much smaller than it seems.
The US president-elect has more than 20 million followers on @realDonaldTrump, but according to data analytics firm Affinio (and as reported by Forbes) only 360,000 of them tweet more than 15 times per month, an indicator of active accounts. The report also found that only 3 million of Trump’s followers have indicated their location as inside the US.
Affinio also broke out Trump’s domestic following into categories. The largest portion of followers (20%) are part of a group they call “Faith, Family and Football”—their most commonly tweeted words are “God,” “family,” and “Christian,” and they are more likely to follow American football teams. Other categories include conservatives (a group 355 times more likely to follow Breitbart, and that tweets on average 20-plus times a month), and a swath of mostly male Twitter users focused on business.
It’s important to note that these numbers aren’t perfect. Even that 360,000 could be obscured by bots that respond to (or retweet) everything Trump tweets. Likewise, users who don’t list a US location might simply be preserving their privacy. But even generously doubling the number of American Twitter users who follow Trump would be a massive cut to the perception of his audience on the social media platform.
Trump has said he plans to continue using his personal account after Inauguration Day, making Twitter the most direct link the American public has to their incoming president. But the disparity in reach begs the question: If the media didn’t report on Trump’s tweets, who would really be reading them?