Donald Trump versus Barack Obama: who’s winning the Twitter war?

The current US president is known for his controversial use of the social media site.

Incumbent US president Donald Trump has used Twitter to make announcements, attack so-called “fake news” and ridicule opponents.

One of his latest tweets contained just four words, something that has become a catch-phrase of his, “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

 That’s all. And yes, he used all caps like someone’s confused grandparent or an angry twelve-year old back in the days of MSN. His over-use of this catchy phrase, which is often shortened to MAGA, is a key part of his online persona.

The preceding Tweet outlined Trump’s gratefulness that North Korea has reconsidered missile strikes on Guam.

Now take a look at Donald Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, whose tweets are far rarer than 45’s. His latest series of tweets have racked up quite a bit of support on the internet.

Following the terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Obama tweeted a poignant quote from Nelson Mandela in three parts.



The first of the tweets has over 1.3 million retweets and 3.3 million favourites, far more than the tens of thousands Donald Trump usually gets. The Guardian has even reported that the tweet is the most liked of all time.

How do the two presidents compare on Twitter?

Both presidents have two accounts. One of Donald Trump’s is the official @POTUS account. Tweets from this account are more official and do not contain Trump’s late-night outbursts. Barack Obama also has a similar account, which used to be the official POTUS account, but is now @POTUS44. The account is no longer used, but is still active to keep a record of Obama’s time in the Oval Office.

Now, @realDonaldTrump is the account that is so often quoted in the news:

  • Number of followers: 36 million
  • Number of tweets: 35.6 thousand
  • Trump follows 45 people – perhaps because he is the 45th president – including VP Mike Pence, the Trump Organisation, Fox Nation and numerous family members.

As for the 44th US president, Barack Obama’s current Twitter account is simply @BarackObama.

  • Number of followers: 93.4 million
  • Number of tweets 15.5 thousand.
  • Obama follows over 620,000 accounts.

Who’s winning the Twitter war?

Overall, Barack Obama has significantly more followers than Donald Trump – well over double in fact. Donald Trump clearly tweets more often, and while his tweets can often grab the headlines, they have created a new normal. It is no longer surprising when Trump tweets something - even if it is controversial. On one level that is worrying, but it also lessens the impact of his tweets.

Barack Obama’s more reserved and less frequent tweeting can have a massive impact, as shown by his post-Charlottesville tweets.

Perhaps this is a case of slow and steady winning the race.