I. The Intro
Social media seems to provide an infinite amount of information in no time at all. Somehow, each platform seems to make an infinite number of changes in even less time. The biggest offender in recent history is the largest microblogging platform in the world, X. Formerly Twitter, X has seen no shortage of changes in recent history and is one of the most challenging platforms to keep up with. That’s where this blog comes in handy! You can learn all about what’s been happening with X, what other companies are doing in response and what you can do about it.
II. The Changes
In 2019, a study by Promotique™ found that the Twitter logo was the 16th most recognizable brand logo in the United States. That’s why people were shocked in July 2023 when company chairman Elon Musk announced the brand would be changing from the famous blue bird to one simple letter: X. The name change came after a number of changes at the company since Musk took over in late 2022.
The first major change to the platform was the inception of Twitter Blue. In an attempt to increase revenue, the blue checkmark that noted an account’s verification was moved to a subscription model. Instead of being a way to identify public figures, the checkmark became a sign that a user was subscribed to Twitter Blue. This subscription, now known as X Premium, gives users access to features like post editing, fewer advertisements, priority post placement, longer posts and more.
Verification wasn’t the only change to the platform. The way posts are displayed to users was fundamentally changed as well. Instead of one feed consisting of a mix of posts from accounts you follow and suggested posts, there are now two feeds. One shows suggested posts, called “For you,” and one shows only posts from those you follow, called “Following.” The introduction of X Premium plays a part in the “For you” feed, as posts from X Premium accounts are more likely to show up on the “For you” feed.
There are some other notable changes to the platform that have either been undone or haven’t been instituted yet. For a brief period, users were limited in how many posts they could see per day unless they were subscribed to X Premium. Similarly, there was an announcement that only X Premium members would show up in the “For you” feed, but that change never seemed to come to fruition. One change coming is the removal of the block feature. This seems connected to Musk’s unbanning of several accounts that were permanently banned on Twitter for sharing misinformation and other dangerous ideology. The “general amnesty” he granted followed claims that he is restoring “free speech” on the platform.
III. The Response
The recent changes to X have resulted in users leaving in massive waves. In response, other companies are looking to fill the gaps in the microblogging space. While sites like Tumblr and Reddit already existed and had a good amount of market share, there was a rise in new platforms. There were increases in signups to accounts like Bluesky (created by the original Twitter creator, Jack Dorsey), Mastodon and Hive, but they haven’t found the same level of success. The lack of a clear successor inspired other social media brands to try their hand at creating “the next Twitter.”
If you haven’t heard by now, Meta (Facebook’s parent company) created an app called Threads. Threads has a very similar look and feel to Twitter, with the added ease of being tied to existing Instagram accounts. Upon signing up for Threads, you’re granted the option to instantly follow everyone you follow on Instagram, and your Instagram followers can agree to do the same. The option to not start from scratch, along with the platform coming from an already established social media company, made the platform very attractive. In fact, it broke many download records, with over 30 million users registering in under 24 hours and eventually passing Pokémon GO as the app that reached 150 million downloads the fastest.
Other social sites have their eyes set on becoming a replacement for X as well. TikTok announced the introduction of text-only posts in an attempt to get in on the action. This follows a trend of TikTok taking inspiration for features from other platforms, such as stories that disappear in 24 hours and splitting up “For you” and “Following” feeds.
IV. The Implications
With the unbanning of hateful accounts, the removal of the block feature, Musk’s behavior on the platform and more, X faces scrutiny from every direction. Advertisers are pulling back their spending on the platform, and users are finding other outlets. Honestly, it’s hard to tell if there will be a rebound. If you’re creating a social media strategy, X does not come across as an ideal investment of time and resources unless you’re willing to pay for X Premium. Even with the subscription offering better treatment for your posts, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll still have an audience on X.
The audience that has stuck around trends toward the type of accounts that were previously banned – typically not the kind of audience that brands want to be associated with. Obviously, that’s a massive generalization and isn’t true about the platform as a whole. However, it is the main rationale as to why advertisers are leaving as quickly as they are. There are fewer filters on what can be said, and having your message show up alongside troves of hateful content isn’t usually a winning strategy.
V. The Conclusion
The main takeaway is that X is changing, and it’s changing fast. If you don’t have the time and resources to follow along with what’s happening, moderate your page and subscribe to X Premium, it’s probably not the best platform for you to focus on. Even if you do have the resources, your audience is probably not as strong as it was at this time last year. Follower counts are inflated by forgotten accounts, and constant algorithm changes mean getting started on the platform is more of a hurdle than it’s ever been. At image.works, we’ve bid our X accounts farewell, and it might be something for your brand to consider.
If you’re not sure you’re ready to say goodbye to X, that’s okay! Every organization has different goals, and an established and active audience on a platform is not something to stray from. If you’re looking for guidance about social media, we at image.works are here for you! Our digital marketing and social media services are a great place to start. We’ll help figure out what’s working, what’s not and what platforms are worth your time. We’ll keep up with the changes and help make sure your posts aren’t getting lost in an ever-changing landscape. Also, check out our recent Social Media Bootcamp webinar! It goes over each platform, what works on them and more, in a way that's easy to take in.