Over the last month, conversations with my marketing and agency friends have been abuzz with talk about Twitter. More specifically, we’re discussing the viability of the platform for brands under Elon Musk’s leadership. Is the situation as bad as it seems? With an uncertain future, is it time to panic? Should we tell clients to stop tweeting? Worse yet, should we deactivate our personal accounts?
I was an early Twitter adopter and watched the app evolve. I was initially attracted to Twitter because it felt like a group of friends sharing interesting tidbits. The discussions were lively and robust. I began talking to TWIST President and Partner Charlene Coughlin on Twitter over a decade ago, and we eventually met at a local Tweetup. I received a job offer on Twitter. I had conversations with celebrities and celebrated big moments during major sporting events. There was a sense of community, of meaningful connections that you couldn’t find on other platforms. No surprise, that’s great for brands — and combining the two made my career in content even more enjoyable.
But admittedly, I’m using the app less. For as much fun as it was, let’s not forget that Twitter has always had problems. The platform is a breeding ground for bullying, harassment, and misinformation. Trolling hit new heights in recent years. You can find the worst in humanity if you’re looking for it.
Now, amid the ongoing drama, I find myself closely following the news so we at TWIST can advise our clients. As it stands, there are several implications stemming from Musk’s takeover.
User unrest. It’s estimated that Twitter has lost more than a million users since Musk took over. Over a month since leadership changed hands, users continue to threaten to leave.
Lack of resources. A mass exodus of Twitter staff in addition to extensive layoffs has translated to a loss of knowledge at the platform. Many are now wondering who is left to handle changing audience needs with a lack of support staff and community moderators.
Security risks. Some of the notable resignations at Twitter include top security officials. Cybersecurity experts now believe security holes exist that could lead to compromised accounts and question if the app can fend off such threats.
Potential FTC repercussions. Several legislators have asked federal regulators to investigate any possible violations of consumer protection laws or of its data security commitments, leading to more distrust and safety concerns for users.
Damage of reputation. As it wades the waters of bad publicity, lack of trust, and weakened engagement, we have yet to hear a philosophy that spells out Twitter’s commitments to its community. This can hurt the app in the long run.
Archive your tweets. If there’s something you care about on Twitter, now’s the time to download your content. In your account settings, you can ask to download an archive of your data. Your Twitter archive saves all your information starting with your first tweet. Twitter says this could take up to 24 hours to receive, but be warned, I’ve heard friends say they’ve waited a few days for their archive.
Know where your customers are. Do your research. If your customers on are on Twitter, you won’t want to abandon it. Customer care interactions on the platform should continue. Plus, you’ll want to gauge the platform’s longevity and see if customers stick with it.
If you find audiences engaging elsewhere, broaden your focus to those social media apps. Or start experimenting with platforms you are curious about — like TikTok or BeReal.
Move from “rented land.” My friend Joe Pulizzi, founder of The Tilt and author of Content Inc., has forever preached about the pitfalls of building brands on rented land. Think about it. What’s more beneficial: content published on your website or social media posts and fans that could disappear when maniacal ownership decides to shut down the rented land? Joe’s team at The Tilt suggests having a strategy to move your rented followers to things you can more control, like an email newsletter or an owned membership site.
Musk sees “extraordinary potential” in Twitter, so more changes are likely on the horizon.
Take into consideration that there’s a real possibility Twitter will not survive. And if it does, the Twitter you once knew could become a thing of the past. So, use this time to rethink your 2023 social strategy (or start one if you haven’t already).
Sorry, there’s nothing that can replace Twitter. It’s a special social app. Facebook is well, Facebook. LinkedIn is a place for professional networking, not real time conversations. Reddit is pretty siloed, particularly when you compare it to Twitter’s digital town square format.
Mastodon, Hive, and Post are platforms seeing an increase in new users, particularly those flocking from Twitter. All three social sites share similarities with Twitter and have quirks of their own. But none appear to be a firehose of headlines, memes, and hot takes like the blue bird app. With all that’s going on, it’s difficult to predict what might be coming next. Can any site foster the same communities and conversations that thrived on Twitter? It’s too soon to know for sure, but you can count on TWIST to keep you up to date on the latest developments. All we can say is, “stay tuned.”
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