ATLANTA, Ga – With Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration only days away, the president-elect’s use of social media continues to dominate political headlines across the nation.
And there’s no reason to expect Trump’s use of Twitter will change once he moves into the Oval Office.
“Why change something when it’s working for you?” asks David Schweidel, an associate professor of marketing at Emory University. “There were these expectations that he would change his tenor and tone once he got the nomination, or after he actually won the presidency, but there’s no indication of that so far.”
Most recently, Trump has engaged in a war of words with U.S. Rep. John Lewis. Over the weekend, Lewis called Trump “an illegitimate president” due to allegations of Russian hacking during the presidential election.
Trump reacted on Twitter by charging that Lewis should focus his attention on his “crime-ridden” and “horrible” 5th congressional district in Atlanta, tweets that caused a firestorm of political controversy.
Lewis also said he was boycotting Trump’s Friday inauguration, the first time he has missed an inauguration since he’s been in Congress.
But Trump tweeted on Tuesday that Lewis, in fact, boycotted George W. Bush’s inauguration in 2001.
John Lewis said about my inauguration, "It will be the first one that I've missed." WRONG (or lie)! He boycotted Bush 43 also because he...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 17, 2017
"thought it would be hypocritical to attend Bush's swearing-in....he doesn't believe Bush is the true elected president." Sound familiar! WP— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 17, 2017
“When he was mayor of Newark, NJ, (now U.S. Sen.) Cory Booker was a big user of social media,” Schweidel said. “And President Obama has also had a presence online. But the way Trump is using Twitter today is unprecedented.”
Trump has said he is planning to keep his personal Twitter account of @RealDonaldTrump. Come Friday, he’ll also officially have the @POTUS account.
“Trump could use both Twitter handles and communicate different messages through each of them,” Schweidel said. “You have two different audiences following those accounts.”
Schweidel said Trump has used social media to speak directly to his audiences, bypassing traditional media outlets.
“That’s the great promise of social media; there are no more media gatekeepers,” he said. “Trump is speaking directly to his followers, and, let’s face it, that’s where a lot of people stop with their news consumption. They have the sound byte; they have the headline and that’s all they need or want.
“Trump’s use of social media will continue to change how the traditional media covers him.”