TWEET ZERO: It’s time to scroll away from Twitter

Albert Einstein once wrote that the measure of intelligence was an ability to change.

So, with news Twitter’s global traffic declined by 7.7 per cent in March it may be time to think about changing how you use the platform. 

We all know the red light on the Twitter dashboard is blinking. We all know what the problem with the platform is and it’s dawning that there’s no breakdown mechanics.

Twitter has had a good run. For me, it was my first taste of social media and it was thoroughly intoxicating. It connected me with people who I still count as friends. It made me laugh and it told me up-to-date football scores.

Just lately, it’s not been doing that. The algorithm has changed post-Elon Musk takeover so I’m met with a ‘For You’ page featuring divisive tweets from people I don’t follow on subjects I don’t care about.

That’s fine, Dan, you can say. That’s just you. Personal opinion really shouldn’t dictate what channels your organisation uses.

I can maybe live with the short-sighted petulant sacking of the Twitter communications team and auto sending poop emojis to questions emailed to their email. I can even live with the owner of Twitter insisting his tweets be artificially boosted

Others can’t live with how Twitter is playing out. Some news organisations in the US have halted new posts to Twitter.  

But in social media reviews after a great deal of reflection I’m starting to recommend organisations pare back on their use of Twitter. I’m suggesting keeping it as a crisis comms or emergency comms channel and to keep it ticking over with corporate messages.

Why? Well, for one I’m not convinced Twitter is a safer space anymore. There’s been a growing background noise of antagonism for a while. Stephen Fry who periodically quit Twitter left for good in late 2022.     

But it’s more than that. The BBC Panorama documentary concluded that Twitter insiders admitted that they can’t keep people safe from trolling anymore. If its not a safe space then why would anyone send their staff there? 

Then there’s the disinformation and misinformation and news that Twitter was no longer policing Chinese and Russian bots.  If that’s the case, there’s no way on your own you can take on vast armies of state-sponsored liars. 

Then there’s Twitter taking off the blue tick unless you pay for it. I’ve blogged about this here (TLDR: I’d pay for Facebook but not for Twitter). 

Is the answer Mastodon? No, I don’t believe it is. Platforms like Mastodon are pitched as Twitter alternatives but I don’t believe that or other platforms are part of a like-for-like audience swap just yet. 

There is already a fully formed eco-system of social media platforms that are well servicing audiences. The trend is firmly towards using a platform to reach a demographic rather than reach a universal audience. The sooner we realise this the better.

But should you carry on with Twitter?

The fact that you have a big number of followers listed in your Twitter bio isn’t a reason to carry on when audience is falling. Thanks to it being embraced by politicians and journalists Twitter has long had an influence that greatly exceeds its reach. 

But like any fading platform, it will happen slowly and in increments. The failure of Friends Reunited taught us that

It’s better to act when there’s warning signs and for Twitter the red dashboard light is flashing. 

I’ve blogged before on how to run a social media review. It’s time to start one if you haven’t already.

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