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Is X a Valuable Tool for Marketing and Communication?

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A few months ago, I wrote an article about Twitter but much has changed since then. 

For one, Twitter has been rebranded simply as X as part of its owner’s master plan to create an everything app, a vision he’s held for a long time. 

There is a question that has been looming in my mind for months now. Not only for those who currently use X but for those who might be considering using it as part of their marketing and communications for the first time. 

The cartoons of my youth always indicated where the treasure was with an X. It’s where they wanted to be but is X where you want to be? Should you still be using it as a part of your marketing and communication mix?

In this article I am going to cover:

  • Why Twitter was valuable
  • The impact of its sale on its business and the change to X
  • The changes that have happened and what they mean to you
  • How you can determine if X is still a platform you should use

Ready? Let’s go.

A Look Back at Twitter

Twitter was a social media network that made it easy to connect with people you didn’t know. 

On Facebook, you had to send a request to be approved.

On Twitter, you only had to hit the follow button. This made it easy to follow and engage people and brands. The caveat being it was an account that was set to public and not private. 

From a marketing and communication perspective, you wanted your account to be public because you want to be visible.

While Twitter changed over the years adding new features like Spaces, and changing the number of characters you could use from 140 to 280, it mostly stayed the same in its functionality. 

Twitter moved at a frantic pace and thus real-time news was a perfect fit.

Reporters and news organizations flocked to it and because of this, public relations people flocked to it as well. 

Twitter made it easy to follow reporters and promote their stories as well as develop a relationship with them. Important when a big part of your job is working with reporters to place stories about your company.

When it came to marketing and promotion, Twitter was a great place to be. It allowed you to speak directly to your audience and they could speak back to you.

It was a place where you could develop relationships with people you didn’t know.

Twitter certainly has its faults. They’ve been well documented but in the right hands, Twitter could certainly be a tool that could help you drive business results.

Twitter Gets a New Owner

I remember a time when Twitter was seen as a potential threat to Facebook. 

While Twitter was no slouch, with nearly 354 million monthly active users, it never kept pace with Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or TikTok. (Note: While I was editing this article Elon Musk posted a graph showing X has 541 million monthly active users as of July 28th. I can’t vouch for its accuracy.)

Even Snapchat and Pinterest boast more monthly active users than Twitter. 

While Twitter punched above its weight based on its influence, it never could really figure out a good business model. 

When Elon Musk came along and offered $44 billion for Twitter, it couldn’t say no. 

And thus began a new era. 

While Twitter wasn’t making money hand over fist like some of its competitors, it wasn’t saddled with a lot of debt.

That changed as its new owner, who many feel drastically overpaid for Twitter, added $13 billion of debt to the company.

Many of Twitter’s moves and Musk’s comments have spooked advertisers who cut their ad spend but the Twitter Blue subscription service was going to save the day. 

That hasn’t been the case as of yet. The most recent reports have the number of Twitter Blue subscribers at around 640,000. Assuming this is accurate, that’s .1% of its total monthly average users.

Musk himself recently said that Twitter’s cash flow is negative due to a 50% drop in advertising revenue. 

In short, this is a company that continues to struggle. 

Last week, Twitter officially came to an end when it was announced that it would be rebranded as X

While this seemed to come as a surprise to some, he stated before the sale ever went through, “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app.” 

When Twitter announced its Twitter Blue subscription option, it felt to me that it was moving in a new direction. A direction that may not be beneficial to you.

If that’s the case, the next question is, should you be on X? Is it still valuable to you as we move forward? 

Does X Mark the Spot? 

There are two ways that social media networks typically work as far as being exposed to users you aren’t connected with already.

The first one is organic.

This is when people come across your post. It could have been because of the algorithm or because somebody else shared it but you didn’t spend any money for them to find you.

The other piece is paid media. This is what you may better know as ads.  

You run an ad promoting a post or your services and somebody sees it. You paid money to raise your visibility and that’s how people find you.

I think that it is possible that X is moving toward a pay-to-play system meaning you will need to pay for visibility in the future. 

There is something else that has changed on X: limiting people’s reach. 

Now, X has said this is temporary and we shall see, but as of now, users are limited in the number of posts they can see a day

Verified users, those who are paying for a subscription to Twitter Blue, are limited to viewing 6,000 posts per day. 

Non-verified users, those who are using the platform for free, are limited to viewing 600 posts a day. 

While other social media networks are doing everything they can to keep people on their platforms, Twitter has made the decision to turn people away if they exceed their viewing limitations. 

Supposedly this is because X is worried about its content being used to train the large language models used to power tools like ChatGPT. 

From your point of view, what matters is they are making you less visible. 

This cuts your organic reach. 

However, the other side of it is paid media.

How do ads show up in somebody’s X feed? 

The same way they show up on other social media networks like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. They are presented in your feed.

If you’re limiting how many posts somebody can see, you’re also limiting the probability of them seeing an ad.

It’s not a good proposition.

If you were told that only 600 people a day can look at the billboard on the freeway, would you sign up for that deal? 

No, you wouldn’t. 

You want to get your posts and/or ads in front of as many people as you can. 

So what all this comes down to for you is the question, does X still provide enough value for you to use it in your marketing and communication? 

And the answer right now as of today’s writing is it depends. What is known is that its value is diminished.

How much will depend on whether you use it for free or have a subscription to Twitter Blue.

It also depends on how much of your audience is using it for free or subscribes to Twitter Blue.

Where Do You Go From Here? 

The general advice I would give is that you need to re-evaluate how X fits into your strategy.

If your audience is still on X, you’re probably ok to stay on it as long as they are engaging with you. 

I wouldn’t suggest anybody run ads on Twitter. I don’t see the value in it unless budgets aren’t an issue for you. 

What I want you to understand is that the return on investment as of now, has changed. 

It’s not something that should be ignored. 

In April, I wrote a post that focused on how you can choose which channels to use as part of your marketing and communication strategy. 

If you haven’t read that article, you should. 

It talks about a framework called the 5Ps that I learned to use from Katie Robbert, CEO of Trust Insights, which has proven to be very valuable to me. 

You need to go through that exercise with the understanding of how the value proposition has changed with X. 

Some of you may find that it’s fine to continue or even start using X whether it is to post, promote, or advertise. 

Some of you may decide it’s time to pack up and move on to a different social media network. 

There will be others who stay but change how they use it from how they use it. 

If you’ve followed me for any period of time, you likely know that Twitter was my social media platform of choice.

So, you might be wondering what am I doing. I’ve been mulling this for several months.

As of this writing, I haven’t left. I have lots of friends on Twitter. I’m going to still be on there but not near as much as I was.

I’m still going to participate in chats and engage with people. 

I know that my return on investment will be much lower when I’m promoting my business on X but I’m still going to do it.

I am going to be much more strategic in who I engage with and what I engage with.

That’s a really nice way of saying I’m going to stop following a lot of accounts because I don’t want my feed clogged up with posts that aren’t as important to me. I only get to see 600 tweets a day and I know I’d been viewing more than that before the change. 

But again, that’s me. You should do what’s best for you. 

Keep marketing. Until next time.

*Photo by BoliviaInteligente on Unsplash

Shane Carpenter
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