You can’t have failed to spot that Twitter, until recently the go-to social media platform for C-Suite executives and corporate brands, has been in something of a state of ferment recently. Elon Musk, its new owner, has clearly gone into overdrive, cutting costs dramatically (with a noticeable decline in the platform’s reliability) and attempting to monetise its service in a way that changes the dynamics significantly.
The hallowed blue tick – in old days a freely-given marker that confirmed that its holder was either a significant individual or bona fide company - can now be bought by anyone. The result, of course, is that it has become more difficult to work out who is real, and who is just pretending and is sad or malicious enough to spend the £8 per month that it takes to own the blue tick.
The problem is, or at least the suspicion is, that Mr Musk is tweaking the algorithm so that effectively those who pay for blue ticks are getting a disproportionate share of exposure on the platform. Put simply, if you’re not paying for the tick, your tweets are not being seen in the same numbers that they were in the past, regardless of how many followers your account has. As an enthusiastic user of the platform myself, I can testify to this – either I am even less amusing than I used to be (entirely possible), or my engagement (views, likes and retweets) has dropped dramatically since the new system was introduced.
And as a result we’re hearing two questions repeatedly from Corporate clients. “Should we stay with Twitter”? and “Should we pay for a blue tick?”. The answers to these questions are “Yes, for now”, and “Yes, until you decide to leave”. There is some thinking behind this advice.
We say our clients should stay on the platform for a few reasons. Defensively speaking, it’s important to keep your real estate protected on the platform to prevent someone else nicking your brand and registering for a blue tick – this has happened with spectacular results to other companies. And more positively, Twitter does remain an important vehicle through which consumer and corporate brands speak to customers, investors and the wider public directly and it’s a powerful tool. Longer term, the jury is out whether Twitter will remain a wholesome enough place for a corporate brand to reside, and there is no doubt that the quality of debate generally has declined further in the last few months. So, now might be the time to think of alternatives platforms, and perhaps to build a following on the likes of LinkedIn and Instagram (and even Mastodon) and running two or more platforms in parallel – with minimal changes to the content you are posting. This means that if you ever do decide the time has come to delete your Twitter account (and it’s very possible we will get to a point where this is advisable), you won’t be in a social media desert from day one.
And what about buying the blue tick? Our view is that if you’re in it you might as well invest money in winning it. There’s no point in putting in the time and effort to create beautiful corporate content, and not biting the bullet and paying for the tick so your stories are seen by as many folk as possible. If you’re a corporate without a blue tick these days, it looks suspicious, and our view is that you will find it harder to build an audience of followers. So for as long as you’re staying with Elon, you should be paying Elon too.
Find me on Twitter @frdidymus or @firstname.lastname@example.org in case Twitter implodes.