Late last year, we recommended that most brands pause proactive efforts on Twitter through the end of the year. When we did that, we would never have predicted the amount of change and turmoil the platform would experience in the ensuring weeks.
While Twitter owner Elon Musk smoothed tensions with Apple and appears to have kept the imminent threat of being removed from the App Store at bay, one thing has become crystal clear: Twitter managed by Musk will be at the mercy of the CEO’s whims, opinions, and personal beliefs for at least the near future.
To recap, here are the most notorious examples of what happened through the end of the year.
Recent Happenings on Twitter
Journalists Suspended, then Reinstated
On December 15th, Twitter suspends the accounts of more than a half-dozen journalists (from CNN, NY Times, and The Washington Post), accusing them of endangering his family through their reporting of an account that tracked flights of his private jet.
Vote to Oust Musk
On December 19, Musk sent a poll to users asking if he should be the CEO of Twitter, with a promise to honor the poll results. When users vote by 57.5% for him to be removed, he develops a policy to restrict voting on polls to paying users of the blue premium version.
Musk Searching for a New CEO?
Some sources say Elon Musk is actively looking for a new chief executive of the company, though the search may take time. He mentioned that he’ll step down from this position “as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job.” He also mentioned after this person is hired, he will just run the software and servers team.
Pilot of “Blue for Business” Soft Launches
The social network soft-rolled the launch of Blue for Business to a select set of businesses before the holiday break, assigning a gold checkmark to businesses and allowing businesses to affiliate their leadership, employees, or brands with the handle. These affiliates will be verified and officially linked to their parent handle based on a list provided by the parent business. This will be rolled out more broadly in the new year.
Twitter Blue is Back
After suspending Twitter Blue, it’s now back — with one significant tweak. The price to sign up on iOS will be $11/month ($8/month if you sign up via the web and bypass the additional charge Twitter will pay to Apple). Users who sign up may receive benefits like listing tweets from paid subscribers higher, seeing half the ads, the ability to post longer videos, access to Tweet editing, and the coveted blue checkmark (once your account has been reviewed).
Musk’s Cuts Continue
On Christmas Eve, Musk reportedly shut down one out of three servers in an effort to cut costs further. After this change, some users reported service interruptions that still are unexplained by Twitter. According to the New York Times, Musk is seeking to save $500 million in non-labor costs and has laid off or fired nearly 75% of the company’s workforce since completing the purchase.
As we have seen, Twitter continues to undergo changes that make the question of “brand safety” difficult to predict on the platform. At the same time, the employee layoffs and even the most recent server shutdown did not kill the platform as some anticipated. Through these changes, we’ve been reminded of the lasting nature of the platform and how difficult it is to replicate or replace.
Despite sites like Mastodon and Hive experiencing rapid growth from Twitter’s turmoil, these gains feel short-term in nature, and the sites are still too fragmented for many brands to use in any meaningful way.
If the weeks and months taught us anything – it is that the decision for a brand to reactivate on Twitter remains a brand-by-brand decision. Brands should consider the importance of Twitter to them as a marketing and/or customer support channel, as well as any “political” reasons to stay on or off the platform.
For most brands, however, we believe the efficiencies and level of targeting the channel and the low perceived risk for brands make it worth reactivating proactive efforts on the channel for the time being, monitoring content closely to see if any negative reactions occur.
Of course, as with all things Twitter-related, things can change very rapi=dly, so stay tuned.