The Strategy Behind Donald Trump's Tweets Revealed

They have been called random and unpredictable attacks, but researchers claim there has long been a method to U.S. President Donald Trump's often combative and sometimes erratic tweets.

For the first time, linguists have analysed 21,739 tweets from Trump's official account, finding his style of tweets changed as he raced toward the Oval Office.

Since his very first tweet in 2009, Trump has waged both a personal and political war on his Twitter feed.

Back then, he was a real estate magnate and billionaire host of 'Celebrity Apprentice'. Today, as Trump faces a dramatic political showdown that threatens his presidency, the picture looks very different.

May 5, 2009: 

September 25, 2019: 

Over the past 980 days U.S. President, Trump posted 575 tweets about 'Fake News', 859 about 'Russia and collusion' and 258 about Barack Obama, according to TrumpTwitterArchive, a searchable database that claims to catalogue all of Trump's tweets.

He has also posted 533 tweets about Fox News or commentator Sean Hannity, 144 tweets about CNN and 138 tweets about The New York Times.

According to the database, there have been 234 tweets including the word "loser", 222  with "dumb" or "dummy",  183 with "stupid" and 115 with "dishonest" in that time.

President Donald Trump's tweeting style has changed over time.. Image: Getty

A team of UK researchers has used the archive to download the corpus of tweets sent from the @realDonaldTrump Twitter account from 2009 to 2018.

After removing the retweets, they began to identify a range of grammatical features found in each tweet. This helped them to identify four general style variations: conversation, campaigning, advisory and engaged.

According to the researchers, the style of Trump's tweets changed in clear ways before, during and after the 2016 presidential campaign depending on his team's communication goals.

Changing Tone: From Formal To Conversational

The researchers identified a relatively formal style in Trump's early tweets between 2009 and 2012, which became more informal in the lead up to the 2012 election.

At this point, Trump became a vocal critic of the current administration, which researchers said peaked around the start of then-President Obama's second term. 

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In these tweets, Trump often interacted with users.

In the few months before Trump declared his candidacy, the researchers found a rapid rise in a more conversational tone. But this again reverted to a more formal style after he secured his nomination and began focusing on the general election.

According to the researchers, this change in tone came down to whether Trump was speaking to his political base versus the general electorate.

Becoming Disengaged

The researchers found Trump became increasingly disengaged over the course of the presidential campaign.

He began to express his opinions as statements of fact, attacking his political opponents rather than addressing criticism.

This was particularly noticeable after the release of the Access Hollywood tape --  where Trump spoke crudely about groping women. Researchers said this possibly helped to minimise the fallout from the scandal.

This was balanced out with self-promotional tweets, encouraging supporters to join him on the campaign trail or spruiking his own policies. These tweets featured plenty of capital letters and exclamation marks.

Ultimately, the researchers argued Trump and his team successfully used Twitter as a communication outlet during his campaign, "regardless of one's political persuasion or opinion of Donald Trump".