Sahail Ashraf posted on 16 November 2022
Twitter has just been bought by Elon Musk. Everything has changed, including some fundamental features. Can we trust Twitter? And should we use it as marketers?
It’s hard to get a handle on what is happening with Twitter right now. That’s because so much is happening. In fact, you can expect updates pretty much on an hourly basis. This is ironic, in that Twitter itself has its own rolling news feed. To say it’s chaotic is a bit of an understatement.
Recently, as Elon Musk took ownership, the company decided it was going to sell the famous blue checkmarks. These blue markings previously allowed celebrities and other important account holders to show they were the real thing. They were authenticators for important or noteworthy accounts on Twitter.
You had to be famous or noteworthy in an industry to have a blue checkmark. They were highly prized and people spent years building their accounts so that they were deemed worthy of them. Then Musk took over and said that we could buy them if we wanted to.
Predictably, things went south. With the purchase option, people began to create fake accounts that made it seem they were the real Lady Gaga, or the real Apple. With the blue check available to anyone who could afford $8 a month, everything went crazy. Up until last week, you could not be sure if you were reading Lady Gaga’s tweets or those of a ‘normal’ person who wanted to fake the account.
Then Twitter added a grey mark for real accounts. So essentially, it brought in a new source of revenue by making something exclusive available to all. Then it created another level of exclusivity for those who had earned the original exclusivity. Sounds a bit complicated, to be honest.
The grey mark was removed, reinstated and then removed again within days of it first appearing. It was easy to see why people were concerned about Twitter’s future. It simply couldn’t make up its mind.
The biggest problem here? People are becoming even more vulnerable to scams. Someone can pose as a star with a blue check, and with the right number of followers, can fool enough people into paying for a product or submitting an email address to make money.
Anyway, that’s probably not the biggest problem Twitter has right now.
It gets worse.
You may not know the Balenciaga brand, but it’s kind of a big deal in fashion. It has also just left Twitter.
It hasn’t officially given a reason for leaving, yet. However, there has been mounting concern over the direction Twitter is moving in. General Motors and Dyson have cancelled advertising campaigns, and the media is constantly pointing to what it feels is a huge problem. Twitter is losing the trust it had with brands.
With General and Dyson stopping campaigns, there is a direct hit on Twitter revenue. Much of the talk around these decisions has focused on hate speech being given a free reign on the platform. Musk himself has said that he intends to make it a completely free speech space. While this sounds great in principle, it has meant that there has been noticeably more ‘relaxed’ content moderation. Unfortunately, this has meant some advertisers have found their ads ending up next to some inappropriate content.
This has significant ramifications for all brands. Prior to Musk’s acquisition, Twitter was a reasonably solid bet when it came to social media marketing. The new atmosphere of chaos and the exits by big brands simply makes it appear less of a safe bet.
Twitter is currently owned by Musk, a mercurial figure who does what he wants. This could lead to the platform moving away from it’s core values, and brands moving away from it. For now, we can’t see where it is going to go. However, no other platform currently has this level of trouble attached.
Our advice is to play it cautiously. Still keep creating content and still use ads, but watch your data very carefully. The moment it starts to seem like it is bringing diminishing returns, pull back on your efforts. While Musk is mercurial, he is a businessman. If things get worse, he will reverse decisions, and Twitter will recover.
We don’t know when that will be. Twitter needs to regain the trust of brands.
Be careful, and perhaps don’t be tempted into buying a blue check.
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