Overview:

Truth Social was billed as a potential rival to Twitter and Facebook. But with a lack of engagement, dwindling downloads, and a rough user experience, it looks like Truth Social isn’t going to disrupt much.

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Donald Trump is no stranger to failure. Remember Trump Steaks? How about the bankruptcy of Trump’s Atlantic City casino? And who could forget Trump Airlines? So it shouldn’t be any surprise that Trump’s new social media venture—Truth Social—has also become a failure.

Trump has built a brand on bluster and bravado. But his past is littered with a long list of failed businesses that never developed much of anything past their initial glitzy marketing. Outside of Trump’s narrow Electoral College victory in 2016 and NBC Show The Apprentice, there are not a lot of public-facing organizational successes that Trump has been a part of. He inherited most of his wealth and his real estate business from his father. 

With a lack of engagement, dwindling downloads, and a rough user experience, it looks like Truth Social isn’t going to disrupt much of anything in the market. 

In late February, Trump spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando about the app. “It’s been an incredible success,” Trump said. “We have hundreds of thousands of people trying to get on and we’re doing it very slowly.” But the reality of the company’s numbers tells a different story.

Trump hasn’t posted a single time since the site’s launch. Multiple executives, including the chief of technology and chief of product development, have exited the company after less than a year. While Twitter boasts over 200 million daily users, Truth Social has around 500,000, with app downloads falling rapidly from 170,000 a day to just around 8,000 now. There are also reports that the app itself is buggy, and has limited functionality compared to other social media competitors. Initially, Truth Social was billed as a potential rival to Twitter and Facebook, somewhere the former President could build a social media empire after being booted from Twitter. Former Congressman and Trump ally Devin Nunes even resigned from his job in Washington in order to run the project. But with a lack of engagement, dwindling downloads, and a rough user experience, it looks like Truth Social isn’t going to disrupt much of anything in the market. 

What does the failure of Trump’s social media app tell us? After Trump’s ascension to the Presidency, a lot of pundits thought that it meant that whatever he touched would have a built-in base of fervent supporters.

But it turns out that Trump’s business acumen hasn’t changed much from his earlier days. Outside of politics, Trump has remained all marketing and limited substance. But the disaster of Truth Social also might foreshadow trouble for Trump’s political future. The story of Trump’s political base has been that he could get them to support him for pretty much anything. But if they won’t download Trump’s social media app, are they really that excited for a third Trump campaign? Maybe the real takeaway from Trump’s post Presidency failure is what it might mean for his next run for office.

Marcus Johnson

Marcus Johnson is a political commentator and a political science Ph.D. candidate at American University. His primary research focus is the impact of political institutions on the racial wealth gap.