Twitter Fallout: what should businesses do?

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Since his takeover at the end of October, Elon Musk has lit a fire under Twitter. The main question everyone has is: will it burn to the ground, or will the blue bird become a phoenix?

Arguably there are more eyes than ever on Twitter now, but likely most of those are there to watch the unfolding drama. When using the platform from a business standpoint, it can be difficult to second guess the position and action to take. Many global brands have already withdrawn and paused advertising, with over 1 million users having left the app since Musk took over.

This is due, in part, to concerns about trust and safety – with a surge in hate speech and misinformation and a 500% increase in racial slurs – as well as the reinstatement of accounts belonging to highly controversial individuals such as Donald Trump. The question therefore becomes, who wants their brand associated with that?

However, there is real emotional attachment to Twitter. Some people developed and built their career and businesses there, found cut-through in business hierarchy – talking to CEOs just as easily as their assistants – found their tribe and built communities, had great discussions and shared memes. It therefore feels like a real wrench to cut ties or dissociate with the platform, besides where else to go? Both booksellers and authors have been discussing the issue on the platform in the last week, without a clear resolution.

As ever, being led by data can give you the torchlight you need to guide the path ahead. Ask two questions: What purpose does Twitter serve your business, and who are your customers and their needs? Keeping both answers front of mind, we’d recommend working through the list below to take action:

1. Pause Twitter advertising

Your return on investment may be questionable in the immediate future whilst the turmoil ensues. The spend may be much better employed through any of the points below instead.

2. Prioritise owning data

Whilst using social networks and other community platforms is useful, as this turn of events shows, it can leave you exposed if you heavily rely on any of them for your business. Having direct access to your customers is critical, so ensure you gather and keep this data when they interact with your business – email addresses, phone numbers – whatever you need to be in touch.

3. Organic search

Consider an SEO audit of your website to ensure you’re generating as much organic traffic as possible. With the right expertise this doesn’t have to be a long and overly complex process, but can transform your business.

4. Email marketing

Still one of the most effective and efficient marketing tools available, evaluate whether your sales funnel is fit for purpose and regular contact touchpoints (i.e. newsletters) to build your relationship with customers and keep your business front of mind. 

5. Content marketing

Encompassing everything from blog posts to organic social media, whitepapers to video, creating engaging and useful content will help attract and retain customers. There are a huge variety of other channels to share the content, such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn and YouTube, but don’t forget places like Quora, Reddit, Medium and Discord.

What about Mastodon? The little-known microblogging platform has risen up as a popular option to replace Twitter. More like a mix of Twitter and Tumblr, it’s an open-source platform, meaning anyone can set up a server and run a community if they wish to, similar to a forum or discussion board. Currently ad-free, it’s only open to organic content, so won’t address the needs of businesses looking to advertise. Worth looking at as part of a social media mix, but perhaps not the immediate ‘catch-all’ to become a direct replacement.

As to staying on or leaving Twitter, there’s definitely an argument for actively watching, waiting and letting the dust settle. Theories abound as to Musk’s intentions for the platform, but there is one thing we know for sure about him – he’s smart. He’s also a risk-taker, but one with strategic, long-range thinking. Twitter isn’t necessarily dying, but it may be going through a very painful rebirth. 

However, it doesn’t need to be painful for your business. In fact, it could be an excellent time to reevaluate and reframe your marketing strategy into 2023, and turn uncertainty into opportunity. By taking steps to own your customer data, your business can instead take advantage of movements by the social giants, rather than being beholden to them.

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Gemma Rostill is a Digital Marketing Strategist at BookMachine Creative Agency. She has 18+ years of marketing experience predominantly across trade publishing, most recently as Head of Marketing for Penguin Random House Children’s. Gemma specialises in data-driven and creative strategy, underpinned by extensive experience across the entire marketing mix, from copywriting and content creation to social media and influencer marketing. She is also a TikTok content creator in the FinTech sector, lending valuable insights to BookMachine campaign work.