Our Leadership POV on the Current State of Twitter
Questions have surfaced for weeks from brands worried about whether or not to continue their Twitter presence and spend their advertising budgets on the platform ever since the acquisition closed by the new ownership group led by Elon Musk. It's no news that Elon is a brash, outspoken businessman, but he's taken on a new role as a celebrity figure with a strong influence on the internet community. An issue now arises since he owns the well-known social media platform, and how he controls it will shape the future of social media and free speech.
His outbursts, conspiracy theories and lack of taste at times rightly concern brands about how they should proceed on Twitter. Some brands and notable individuals have made a fuss about "quitting Twitter" because of the changes and current approach Mr. Musk seems to be deploying on the platform.
Twitter, for many, is an echo chamber. It's loved by those in media, politics and sports because of how it's structured and the immediate nature of posting for reaction. Twitter was built for characters like Elon, but brands are worried now that he is behind the steering wheel. Those familiar with Elon's brand of chaos may be less concerned by his antics, chalking them up to his entrepreneurial history of 'breaking' things to rebuild them his own way.
But what about the layoffs at Twitter? Doesn't that mean it's dying? There's been enormous growth in tech over the past few years, even throughout the pandemic. Inevitably, it would eventually slow down or be right-sized, especially with forecasts of a potential recession. The big picture is that Amazon, Google and Meta are all facing layoffs. Yes, the layoffs at Twitter are more significant but rest assured, they're not isolated.
We have yet to determine where the long-term future of Twitter will go under the new ownership and leadership of Elon Musk. In the short term, brands need to look in the mirror and examine if they need to really care (and to what extent) about what's happening.
Brands mingled their social efforts amongst other complicated and, frankly, incendiary times like recent election cycles, the summer of 2020 with George Floyd's murder, COVID lockdowns, the January 6th Insurrection, the general rise of hate speech and sadly, many more instances. So, why is Musk's increased presence now different than those periods? Obviously, he now owns the platform and is running it, but what about other divisive leaders like Mark Zuckerberg or ByteDance, the controversial Chinese company behind TikTok?
Savvy marketers know their customers, including their expectations and how they adapt to new and changing media options. These trends should ultimately guide marketers on where to spend their efforts and media dollars.
The point is that there'll always be an Elon in our midst. The media has trained our society for it and, at the same time, needs them – they feed off each other. And, whether you're conscious about it or not, brands and especially their underappreciated social media managers have been dealing with the above societal situations like this for years.
So, instead of abandoning Twitter or other platforms, consider three things to do in the new year.
Keep at it brave marketers and for more on social media trends and content ideas for 2023, check out our annual Social Media Field Guide.
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Jason Therrien is the president of thunder::tech. He is a fan of entrepreneurs and trailblazers, a proud dad and he liked scotch before Mad Men.