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We Need to Talk About Twitter

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The events of the last few days in the world of social media have been, well, interesting. So much so that I decided to interrupt my regularly scheduled program.

There are some important takeaways that you should understand that I’ll talk about toward the end.

First, I need to set the stage.

I opened Twitter to find my timeline flooded with people talking about Instagram.

Some people found a message saying their accounts were suspended. Others could log in but noticed they had lost hundreds of followers.

It turns out it was an outage that was causing the problem.

As of the time I was writing this, some accounts are back but Instagram is still working on the situation. There is a lesson to be learned and I’ll talk about it in a minute.

The big story is Elon Musk and Twitter who have been in the news ever since he made an offer to buy the social media platform back in April of 2022.

There is a long timeline and I’m not going to rehash it but if you’re really interested you can read more about it here.

The question of whether Musk is buying the company has been resolved. The deal has officially closed but the Twitter’s soap opera continues.

The company has long been plagued with issues. It’s hard to believe at one point it was considered a serious threat to Facebook.

It’s never lived up to the initial hype. Many social networks have passed it in both the number of users and revenue.

Like every other social media platform, Twitter has long had to deal with bad actors. Like every other social media platform, it’s often struggled how to deal with them.

It’s no secret that it has been both applauded and reviled for suspending or outright banning users.

Musk’s comments about being a free-speech absolutionist caused concern among marketers after he announced his bid.

Anybody who joins a social media platform is making an initial investment in it and this is especially true for businesses that decide to create a presence.

You don’t want to invest in something that is toxic.

Musk’s comments seemed to suggest he had no issue with bad behavior so when his takeover became a reality it was like a gut punch to many.

I’ve created a lot of relationships with people on Twitter over the years. Watching their reaction to the news has been fascinating to watch.

Musk has been moving quickly to make his mark.

He fired top executives. Not a surprise and I don’t feel bad for them. Between the money they made off the deal and the golden parachutes, they certainly are doing much better than you and I.

Musk also moved quickly to assure advertisers that Twitter would not become a free for all. This a big deal considering most of Twitter’s revenue comes from ads.

He then announced he was putting together a content moderation council. Again this seems to be a move to calm advertisers.

Musk is anything but conventional and is known for being erratic so this was potentially helpful.

However, in the short amount of time that Musk has controlled the company, hate speech has spiked.

It’s also being reported that in order to get the coveted blue badge that confirms the verification of an account, Twitter could be charging a fee. This also includes people who have already been verified.

The cost has been reported to be as high as $20 a month.

Big names are balking at this and have threatened to leave Twitter if this policy is instituted.

We’ll see what comes next but if my timeline is any indication, there is concern about what kind of platform Twitter might become and whether people will want to continue to invest in it.

All of this is a reminder that your main presence should be a website. Building on any social platform is at best, a bad idea. It’s rented land.

Algorithms change. Owners change. Policies change.

It’s a gamble that is full of danger for your business. It’s not a matter of when you will be negatively impacted, it’s when. And goodness only knows if you will be able to survive it.

It’s also a lesson for those of us that even building a presence on social media platforms has its own risk.

There are many people that I follow, that I have relationships with that are talking about leaving. People leave platforms all the time for their sanity or to move on to the next big thing else but this feels different.

I frequently give the advice that you should be where your audience is but this is a reminder that this can change.

You may have done extensive research when you decided on the right social media platform(s) to be on but just because it was the answer then doesn’t mean in five years, even two years, this will still be true.

You need to audit this at least once a year. You don’t want to still be on Instagram if your audience has migrated to TikTok.

Now, for those of you who have invested on Twitter.

If you are running ads on Twitter, I suggest you pause them until you have a better idea of where this platform is going. Because right now, I have no clue.

While you may want to scale back your investment on Twitter and raise it somewhere else, don’t make major decisions such as leaving based on the unknown.

While you might want to think the best or worst of Elon, none of us know what’s going to happen so don’t be rash.

Keep in mind that at the end of the day, he is a businessman. Spending $44 billion to tank a company is about the dumbest business move anybody could make.

I’m not encouraged by some of his early moves. They indicate that he doesn’t have the skillset or the knowledge needed for this particular venture but you never know. We may see Twitter rise to new heights…or not.

For now, step back and take a breath.

Ok. I hope you feel better.

You need to do what you feel is right but make this decision with a clear head.

Here are the three things I want you to take away from this article:

  1. Do not build on rented land.
  2. Audit social media at least once a year to make sure you’re still investing in the right place
  3. Don’t make a decision based on fear or the unknown

Want to continue the conversation? Find me on Twitter.

*Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Shane Carpenter
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