Donald Trump’s explosive tweets on everything from globalisation to immigration may spark outrage and topple the share prices of the world’s biggest companies but they are also good for Twitter, claimed the social network's chief financial officer Anthony Noto.
The social network reported its slowest quarterly revenue since going public today (9 February) and said it only attracted two million new users in the fourth quarter of 2016, a marked contrast to Facebook which added 72 million monthly active users in the same quarter.
Twitter conceded this increase was partly thanks to its role in the three US presidential debates, which it streamed live in partnership with Bloomberg.
Despite thrusting Twitter into the public's consciousness every day, Noto debunked suggestions that the platform had benefited from the media circus around the presidential race or indeed the president himself. He did, however, hint that long-term, Trump is good for business in terms of driving conversation around the platform.
Analysts had forecast a 'Trump bump' for Twitter, predicting that Trump's affinity for the blue bird might help it lure much-needed users. Noto acknowledged that this didn't provide a "quantitative" lift but added that "top of the funnel" for user engagement saw no benefit from the election.
However, the the leader's use of the site had "broadened the awareness of how the platform can be used," he said. He also told investors during the company's trading update that this "shows the power of Twitter".
He was careful to caveat this point by asserting that it is "very hard for a single person to drive sustained growth," in light of Twitter's underwhelming user increase and fall in overall ad revenue for the business.
While Trump's Twitter use may be good news in terms of helping Twitter's name reach more ears, and thus attract more eyeballs - which it will need if it wants to offset the prospect of another quarterly net loss of $167m - the president's penchant for off-hand posts has stirred debate.
His tweets have real-world impact, not only on people but on brands. Just last month a seemingly spur of the moment criticism about General Motors using Mexican staff to build its products caused the company's shares to fall in during premarket trading hours.
General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers-tax free across border. Make in U.S.A.or pay big border tax!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2017
General Motors was quick to respond to the claim, saying it made the majority of its vehicles in Ohio but nonetheless the tax threat from Trump on Twitter has prompted Ford to cancel its own plans for a planned Mexico plant.
Previous tweets from the White House chief attacking Lockheed Marin and Boeing briefly wiped millions of their share prices, while Toyota lost $1.2bn in value five minutes after a negative update on their business from Trump.
Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2017
The latest brand in Trump's firing line was Nordstorm, which he singled out yesterday for treating his daughter Ivanka "badly". The company was quick to swipe back saying it's decision to remove the businesswoman's clothing line was a financial one rather than a political one.
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person -- always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2017
When he became president Trump made the unusual decision to retain his personal account, which has 24.3 million followers against POTUS' 15.2 million.
Twitter is facing increasing competition from the likes of Snapchat and Facebook for users, but Noto's suggestion that Trump is good for its business may not be so welcome by brands that find themselves in his firing line given how quickly news outlets pick up and amplify such tweets.