The Tumultuous and Troubling Times of Twitter

social media twitter

Here at Dawn, Gone by Musk – Why Companies Are Shifting Their Social Media Marketing Budgets

Social media! You know it. You love it.

Do you still love it?

So much has changed from the purist days of Xanga, Friendster, and MySpace. There were no ads. No influencers. Bots weren’t really a thing yet. The simplicity of it was blissful.

Social media was so novel at one point that you had to ask new acquaintances if they were even on it. Fast-forward to today and being on social is the new norm. In fact, recent survey data shows the average millennial and Gen Z’er have approximately eight social accounts.

Here’s a free (and obvious) marketing tip: Marketing works best when it’s reaching an audience. The bigger and more targeted, the better. At some point in the last decade, companies realized that their audience is spending a lot of time on social media. Hence, social media marketing and professional social media management were born. And it WORKS.

Social Media Marketing Channels – Ranking the Heavy Hitters

social media platforms

You can almost think of social media like they’re different neighborhoods. Each channel has their own core demographic of residents, and they each have their own distinct look and feel. Additionally, each social channel continually rolls out new amenities and improves their user experience (UX) to boost their curb appeal.

The challenge with social media marketing from a business perspective is figuring out which neighborhoods their customers are spending the most time in. Because the majority of social users hop between channels throughout the day, marketers must figure out which ones offer the most opportunity.

Of course, as a digital marketing agency that follows the data, there are some clear winners (and stragglers) in terms of which venues hold the most marketing sway. According to Statista’s reporting, the leading social media marketing channels – in order of marketing usage – are:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • TikTok

Naturally, the top four social channels probably don’t come as a surprise. They’re all established. They’re all heavily trafficked. And although TikTok is sitting in last place, they are a key player with younger demographics, have over 136 million domestic users, and saw a 200 percent increase in ad revenue from 2021 to 2022.

The resident bad neighborhood of these social channels is Twitter. And believe it or not, many of the problems existed before Elon Musk took the helm as “head twit,” although one can make the argument that he exacerbated things.

Why You Might Want to Keep Your Social Media Marketing Dollars Out of Twitter (For Now)

Although Twitter has more than 450 million active users, the people in charge of social media reputation management and marketing budgets are finally asking the hard question: “Is Twitter worth the spend?” after a series of issues cropped up with the social media platform after Elon Musk purchased it.

General Motors, General Mills, Chipotle, Ford, Jeep, Chevrolet – these are just a few of the many major companies that have drastically reduced or outright pulled their marketing budget from Twitter. A report from Media Matters in America revealed that half of the top 100 advertisers took their marketing dollars elsewhere. Most of these companies cited warnings from media buyers or other concerns relating to the various controversies pertaining to Musk’s behavior.

According to an article from Forbes, Twitter’s ad volume dropped by approximately 46 percent in November 2022 (the first full month Musk was in charge). Many companies who had already pre-booked their campaigns for the final two months of the year pulled out. Twitter – Elon’s version of Twitter, anyway – lost its appeal.

Our advice? Continue to use Twitter as part of your social media marketing strategy to engage with your customers. The core functionality of the platform remains firmly in place, and it still touts a massive user base. However, sinking a bunch of marketing dollars into the platform while it’s going through a renovation under new leadership is ill-advised.

The following are some of the top reasons social media management professionals and companies may want to hold their metaphorical horses when it comes to ad spend on Twitter.

There’s Less Support for Social Media Marketing – Half the Staff Was Let Go

Stability and staff turnover don’t normally walk hand-in-hand. Huge layoffs and mass firings can make a company look unstable, but that didn’t stop Musk from reducing Twitter’s staff by half in November 2022.

And how did we hear about it? On Twitter, of course. Employees tweeted about how their work laptops were suddenly locked up, and they no longer had any access, which came to be known as the cardinal indicator they were let go. There were a couple problems with this.

The first issue is that Twitter is one of the only companies where employees are also users of the platform. Disgruntled ex-employees made #Twitterlayoffs a trending topic. The second is that these layoffs were seen as an immediate cost-saving measure, rather than a thoughtful choice. Many companies who had invested a significant amount of their social media marketing budget on Twitter were having second thoughts.

Thousands of Banned Accounts Were Bought Back

Being put in time-out is an effective and non-aggressive example of negative reinforcement. It lets the person know, “You messed up, and you need to sit there and think about it.” Parents use it, the National Hockey League uses it, and so do social media sites.

Every social channel has their own code of conduct spelled out in their terms of service. When a user violates those by using hate speech, harassment, or the spread of blatant misinformation, the typical response is to issue a temporary ban – that time-out we talked about. However, some of the especially nasty accounts earn a permanent ban. That either means the user is a repeat offender, or the user did something so egregious that it’s not worth the risk.

In that regard, Twitter has always been pretty clear about what crosses the line. They’ve also been fairly generous with issuing warnings. The users that get permanently banned have to commit some dastardly deeds to earn it. That’s why what Musk did seemed (at minimum) counterintuitive and (at most) dangerously risky.

Not long after Musk got the keys to the Twitter kingdom, he issued a blanket reinstatement of all accounts that were permanently banned, much to the chagrin of advertisers and users. “General amnesty,” is the term he used. To the surprise of no one, many of the reactivated accounts went back to doing the things that got them banned in the first place, which is why social media marketing departments are hesitant to spend money on the platform. Nobody wants to take a chance that their ad appears adjacent to something distasteful.

The Blue Check Flop Made Work for Social Media Managers

Before Musk, the coveted blue check was reserved for celebrities, news organizations, politicians, companies, and other significant individuals. It served as verification that you are the person or organization you claim to be. It also prevented another user from impersonating that account. In terms of social media, it’s about as close to having a valid driver’s license as it gets.

However, when Musk looked at the blue check, he saw it as one of the platform’s only valuable features that wasn’t bringing in money. In the spirit of creating revenue as quickly as possible, Musk pressured his (remaining) team to rush out a new verified blue checkmark product that any user could purchase for $8.

So, what happens when you roll out a feature where people can pay $8 to be verified as whoever they want? Imposter accounts – wave after wave of verified-but-fake accounts pretending to be public figures and established companies. For roughly the price of a McDonald’s combo meal, anyone could make a verified McDonald’s account and start serving up their own variety of McTweets.

Chaos ensued. The Twitter team was playing whack-a-mole with fake accounts, and they were doing so with a drastically reduced staff. A tweet from a newly created and verified Eli Lilly account proclaimed, “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.” It amassed more than 10,000 likes and 1,500 retweets in the six hours it was live. And although the tweet was fake, the drop in Eli Lilly’s stock was very real. Sinking from $368 to $346 per share, the sudden drop erased billions in market cap.

While establishing your company’s own very real, verified account is a smart move, Twitter’s blue-check program undermined business-as-usual for a lot of very real people and required major moves in social media management to ensure impersonators weren’t doing damage.

Where Does Twitter Stand Right Now?

Musk has clearly made some mistakes with Twitter. He’s gone on record and admitted that, which was a mature move on his part. As it stands, cash flow and winning back the big advertisers are the top priority.

In addition to trying to raise money through investors, Musk also has plans to roll out some new in-app purchases; however, what those will be hasn’t been solidified. Additionally, Musk is working on sanitizing the platform enough so that advertisers will come back. A recently-inked deal with DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science aims to address advertisers concerns regarding objectionable content appearing adjacent to their ads.

If Musk can clean up the joint and make it more suitable for advertisers, he may just win some of them back. Time will tell.

Need Social Media Marketing that Stands Out? Contact iFocus Today!

In the current landscape, every industry has a base of customers that use social media. In fact, they likely are using multiple channels, which is why social media marketing needs to be a substantial piece of the overall digital marketing strategy.

In addition to offering a suite of social media marketing consulting services for the most popular channels, the iFocus Marketing follows the data to engage with your audience on the channels they’re using.

What business owners really love about the social media marketing services from iFocus is that we add time back to their day. Developing engaging posts, responding to customer comments, and monitoring multiple feeds is a full-time job. By entrusting iFocus with your social media management, you are free to focus on other areas of your business that require your attention.

Ready to see how iFocus Marketing will help you reach your 2023 business goals? Kick things off by scheduling a free discovery call and audit. After conducting a deep dive into your current strategy and learning more about your business, we can put together a comprehensive plan that promotes customer engagement, conversions, and overall revenue growth. Contact us today to get started!

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