Earlier this week, Elon Musk changed Twitter’s logo from its iconic bird to… an X. Not just any ol’ X, but Unicode character U+1D54F. It’s all—purportedly—part of his ongoing rebranding efforts to create an “everything” app, one central hub for communication, shopping, entertainment and more.
How well (or not) this hub concept succeeds is the subject of immense debate, as those of us long-time users watch from the sidelines as our once-beloved platform implodes in new and ever more spectacular ways. It’s also probably (definitely?) going to run afoul of numerous trademark claims, as the concept of “X” as a brand isn’t a very original one.
Deeper than just this latest rebranding fiasco has been some of the more under-the-hood changes that have been going on, some of which have been widely reported on, but others slipping more under-the-radar. For example, one can no longer view a Twitter user’s page without they, themselves logging into the service. Go ahead and open an incognito window on your web browser and try accessing our Twitter account. You’ll be greeted with a login modal that, if dismissed, takes you right to a login page. Given the number of people who have deleted their Twitter accounts in protest of Musk’s panoply of ill-conceived changes, this seriously hurts the number of people who can even view your organization’s tweets, let alone interact with you on Twitter.
So what does this latest Twitter debacle—and indeed, every previous one since last October—mean for your organization’s social media presence? Elon Musk didn’t just spend over $44 billion to destroy Twitter’s brand; in the process, he’s severely damaged yours as well, by essentially shutting off a major communication stream from your organization to the world. And the alternatives, while numerous, don’t present a one-size fits all solution.
Facebook & LinkedIn
Facebook and LinkedIn are probably going to reap the greatest benefits of the Twitter self-destruct mode. People are already familiar with these sites. They have strong and ever-growing communities. They aren’t pulling the same kind of sh*t that Elon Musk has been pulling over at the X-bird. And you’re probably already on them already.
However, they each come with their own baggage. Facebook especially has been infamous with not only its own rebranding issues (which, admittedly, seem to be somewhat more successful than Twitter’s, but we’ll leave aside the success and/or failure of “the Metaverse” for now). It has also long been seen as a platform for hate, misinformation, and harmful content. One can hope that as Twitter falls, Facebook will use the opportunity to step up mitigating these issues with increased content protections for its users. One can hope.
LinkedIn has a somewhat better reputation, but that’s only because it’s far smaller, and seen as less “social”, than Facebook. After all, people don’t hang out on LinkedIn for hours on end doomscrolling, and that’s probably a good thing. It’s considered more business-like, but with that it means that people are less likely to stumble upon your organization’s presence there as a part of their everyday social media habits. That’s not to say you shouldn’t build up your LinkedIn profile; brands do post a lot of valuable content there. But it shouldn’t be relied on to be the sole outlet for getting your organization’s message out to the world.
By far the biggest name to make a splash in the world of Twitter replacements in recent weeks is Threads, the Twitter clone developed by ex-Twitter employees and rolled out as a companion app to Meta’s Instagram. Whether this service actually takes hold as the new microblogging service everyone hangs out on remains to be seen. It’s certainly more user-friendly than similar services such as Mastodon (see below), but has some serious “not ready for prime time” issues going on for it, such as no website or desktop app (it’s smartphone app only, to this point), and no support for hashtags, something which was arguably critical for Twitter’s early growth. Also, you can’t view your threads in chronological order; The Algorithm presents them the way it wants you to see them, and that includes a whole lot of threads from people you never signed up to follow.
It’s not to say that these drawbacks won’t be addressed in time, but if you’re looking for a one-to-one replacement for Twitter, Threads isn’t quite there yet.
Speaking of Mastodon, this was an early sweetheart in the “where do we go in a post-Twitter world” race. While open-source and thus not subject to the whims of tech billionaires, it’s that free-for-all spirit that also makes it less attractive to the “ordinary people” who just want to see the latest brain dumps from their favorite celebs and move on. The “first step” one has to do when signing up for Mastodon is select a server, which is a no-go right there. Non-techies (and even many techies, like myself), don’t want to have to pick which silo we want to isolate ourselves in. It smacks of the early days of the Internet, when you needed to pick which Geocities community you wanted your website to be part of. That’s not how people expect the Internet to work in 2023.
Video Sharing Sites
Sites like YouTube and TikTok have been around for awhile, and many individuals and organizations have grown their brands on one or both of those services. But producing video, even micro-videos on TikTok, have their own costs associated with them, in terms of production and time. To create a truly good YouTube video, you need to have decent camera equipment (although a relatively recent iPhone will probably serve well enough), ample lighting, and most of all, a solid microphone. None of these items are particularly expensive these days, but we wouldn’t recommend laying down a single cent to upgrade your video space without a solid video strategy. Who are you speaking to? What do you have to say? Are you going to sit in your office and opine about the state of the world and your organization’s efforts to affect it, or are you going to take your video out into that world and demonstrate how it’s making a difference?
Video is probably a solid consideration for every organization in 2023 and beyond, but only if you have a plan on how to make it compelling and meaningful for your audience.
One communications medium that I expect to exhibit a renaissance thank’s to Twitters gradual demise is that of the email newsletter. While newsletter subscriptions had been going down in favor of social media, taking away one of the big players in that space creates a gap that newsletters are naturally there to fill. You can communicate your message, offer promotions, announce events, and more, without the constraints of a character count.
However, it’s not entirely immune to the whims of The Algorithm, as services such as Gmail often shunt email newsletters into Promotions folders, or throw them into spam altogether. There are things that can be done to increase the deliverability of your newsletters, but they often take technical expertise to set up properly (which we can help with).
And then, of course, is the need to build up your email list. You need to make people want to receive your newsletters, and not immediately delete them or unsubscribe from them. For that, you need solid content, and (as with video) a means of providing value to the reader in exchange for even a few minutes of their time.
Your Own Website
All of this comes back to your own website, which will remain the Number One way in which your organization can convey its message to the world. On your own website, you have no algorithms to contend with (other than search engine optimization, which is beyond the scope of this particular blog post), unlimited character counts, no need for a list of recipients to have to build, and complete editorial control.
But with great freedom comes great responsibility. Yes, you can make your blog posts as long as you want, but realize that you will likely lose a reader’s attention after about 500 words or so. And as with any other methods listed in this article, your website has to offer something of value to its visitors: important (and compelling!) information, a promotion, an event, etc. Opinion pieces will work from time to time, but your website (and your blog) can’t just be a constant rant on the injustices in the world. You have to show how your organization is addressing those injustices, and how the visitors of your site can contribute to those efforts.
Given the haphazardness of Musk’s Twitter rebrand, I predict that we will continue to see the Twitter bird grace websites some time to come. Given that he’s already modified his new X logo at least once already, we probably want to wait until the dust settles, whenever that may be. But the decline in Twitter’s usefulness as a platform is undeniable, and while it won’t disappear altogether for at least some time, it should be relied on less and less as a means of promoting your organization’s interests to the masses.
Instead, look to build up your presence on the other established social media platforms, and to take this opportunity to really evaluate your organization’s messaging strategy, and how best to broadcast it to the world.
Need help in defining that strategy? Need to strengthen your organization’s website to let your message really shine? Contact us and we’ll navigate this new, post-Twitter world together.