Is it time for your business to give up on Twitter?
That’s a question that makes sense given the wild wide ride Elon Musk is taking a platform once known as one of the greatest places on the web for community and connection.
But the answer isn’t so simple.
While Twitter has changed a lot since Musk took over (mostly for the worse), the little blue bird hasn’t flown away just yet. Musk antics or not, there’s still plenty of life left on Twitter.
The real question is, is the platform still worth it when there is an unpredictable CEO running the show?
Until we know for sure, listen in as I go into detail about Musk's time as CEO and how the changes and massive layoffs have impacted how businesses are allowed to use Twitter as a viable tool to grow on social media.
In this episode of the podcast, I talk about:
- The Twitter Acquisition Saga
- Vibrant Twitter communities
- Elon Musk’s fake updates
- The reasons for Twitter’s potential downfall
- 6 Bad, One Good on Twitter
- Why letting Trump back on Twitter is good for everybody
This Episode Was Made Possible By:
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- “Twitter is like a hub of community and conversation. And so that hub is currently feeling threatened since Elon Musk took over. There have been so many changes on this platform.” – Andréa Jones
- “I've really struggled with the Twitter updates because there have been so many times where there's an alleged update that doesn't actually happen. So an example would be there was an announcement late last year that Twitter was going to ban external links to all other social media apps. Meaning if you wanted to link out to Instagram or Facebook, that link would not work. Okay? You could click the link, it's not gonna go anywhere. And within hours, that update was reversed. And that has not been the only time something like that has happened on Twitter.” – Andréa Jones
- “Losing 80% of your employees in six months, 80% of your employees in six months is wild. Think about the amount of processes that are lost and forgotten. Think about the amount of tasks that just aren't happening. Think about the privacy security issues that could arise. Think about the developmental issues with the engineering team. There was another report that stated that Twitter had been down more frequently in the past six months than it had been in its history. And I'm not surprised.” – Andréa Jones
- “There was one day where Twitter was just down. It wasn't updating, you couldn't post a tweet, and your feed was just an old feed. It's things like that that have me questioning as a business owner, if I wanna spend my time on a platform that is so riddled with mistakes that it's challenging to have any level of predictability. So to me, that's the biggest red flag.” – Andréa Jones
- “So Twitter paid verification. Should you do it as a business owner? My answer is not yet, but I do think it'll have a big impact on reach, especially as users start leaving the app. I think it'll be interesting, those who are left, me included, how much more attention our content will get.” – Andréa Jones
- “I think silencing someone is dangerous, and I think silencing someone without going through due process is dangerous as well. I don't want one person, Elon Musk, to have the ability to silence whoever they please because it will make for an echo chamber.” – Andréa Jones
- “The good news is all the Twitter alternatives suck. Sorry, that's a little bittersweet, but my team and I were talking about this last week. There has been a rise in popularity in some of the Twitter alternatives, and we've been testing them out, and they've just lacked the user base that Twitter has. So even though there's a decline in users, there's still massively more users than anything else.” – Andréa Jones
Social Media Today article by Andrew Hutchinson
Twitter is down to fewer than 550 full-time engineers by Lora Kolodny
How Much Longer Can Twitter Last, Really? by Dave Karpf
Watch the Episode Below:
Andréa Jones (00:00):
What do you get when you mix a tech mogul with a social media platform? Chaos, confusion, and a whole lot of controversy? Yes, that's right. I'm talking about Twitter. My friends, Twitter has gone off the rails since Elon Musk took the wheel. So I wanna talk about this social media platform and how it's evolved in the past six months. Let's get into it.
Welcome to The Savvy Social Podcast, the show that blends stories and strategies to help businesses create engaged and profitable online communities using the unique power of social media. And now, your host, Andréa Jones.
Andréa Jones (00:51):
Y'all, I had to look this up before hitting record on this episode because Elon Musk officially purchased Twitter, or he walked into the doors of Twitter as the CEO on October 27th, 2022. That hasn't even been six months since hitting publish on this episode, and it has been a wild ride. So for a little bit of backstory, Elon Musk officially acquired the company on April 14th, but he didn't really become the CEO until October 27th, 2022. Now, this all started in January, 2022. So this is, this is like an extremely accelerated timeline. So January 2022, he purchased a bunch of shares of Twitter, becoming the largest shareholder. By April, he had a 9.1% ownership stake. And then Twitter invited him to be on the board of directors, which he accepted and then said thanks. He basically said, thanks, but no thanks, <laugh>. And then he by himself, no one asked him, said, I'm gonna purchase the company.
And the Twitter board said okay, yeah, let's have a vote. And they said, yep, okay. We agree, you sh you could buy this company. And then he tried to back out of it and went, no thanks, but no thanks again. I don't wanna buy it. And they basically forced him to agree to what he agreed to. Like you said, you do this, so now you actually have to do it. There was a big lawsuit involved which ended October 17th. And then he decided, yep, you know what? I am actually gonna buy Twitter after all. And the deal was closed October 27th. Immediately, immediately after becoming the CEO, he like walked into Twitter, started firing people and taking over the company, changing or saying he's gonna change lots of things. So I wanna talk about all that's happened since then. Everything from hate speech, misinformation, going back on his word, which as we've even seen with him, just purchasing the platform is par for the course and so much more.
And the reason I wanna talk about the history of it all, because it definitely impacts us as business owners. I don't know about you, but Twitter has always had this space in the online world for community and connection. A lot of my clients who have communities like my client, She Podcasts has a very vibrant podcasting community. And that community is quite vibrant on Twitter. There's lots of conversations that happen on that platform if you are in politics at all. For instance, lots of conversations happening on Twitter. If you are a journalist, you wanna have those conversations on there. If you are a marketer like myself, there's lots of things happening in marketing Twitter. So yeah, Twitter is like a hub of community and conversation. And so that hub is currently feeling threatened since Elon Musk took over. There have been so many changes on this platform.
I'm gonna link to a Social Media Today article in the show notes. And I may be referencing my notes a lot in this episode because there's been a lot of changes. And in this Social Media Today article, they list out all of the changes that Elon Musk has made since he became the CEO of Twitter since he purchased it. And this article was released December 19th, 2022. So there's been many, many more changes that have happened. But I want y'all to check out this article because it really does show how rapidly things are changing. Now, I'll pause here and say as well, if you struggle with the changes, I do have a private podcast called The Feed, which I talk about a lot, and I've actually struggled to update the feed. So we release episodes every week, sometimes multiple times a week, sometimes daily, depending on if there's a lot of news happening, and it was designed for Savvy Social School members,
but if you're not a member, you can purchase access individually. And I've really struggled with the Twitter updates because there have been so many times where there's an alleged update that doesn't actually happen. So an example would be, there was an announcement late last year that Twitter was going to ban external links to all other social media apps. Meaning if you wanted to link out to Instagram or Facebook, that link would not work. Okay? You could click the link, it's not gonna go anywhere. And within hours, that update was reversed. And that has not been the only time something like that has happened on Twitter. Sometimes it's weeks This month, I think. I think that was like the fastest time it happened. But there have been numerous times with Twitter over the past couple of months where there is a big announcement. All of the news sources I follow, you know, post about it, we're talking about it, my marketing circles, and then the plug is pulled.
And that update is nowhere to be found. It's never gonna happen. It doesn't see the light of today. And it can be very challenging for business owners to navigate these updates because when you hear something like you can't post links to other platforms, you kind of have to make a decision that as a business owner, like, do I wanna spend time on this platform that's not letting me promote my thing? Like, that's wild, right? So a lot of changes are happening on Twitter. I keep you updated on the Feed podcast with the changes that actually matter to you as a business owner. And I wanna bring you some flavor of that in this episode today as well. So let's talk about how this impacts business owners. And the biggest thing that I see for business owners that to me, it signals the downfall potentially of the app or a period of massive uncertainty, is the amount of layoffs that Twitter is having as a company.
So internal records show that Twitter has lost about 80% of its employees since Elon Musk took over. So they're down to about 1300 employees. And this article was published in January of this year on CNBC. And I'll put that link in the show notes. You can find all the links at onlinedrea.com slash 250. We're on episode 250 today. Okay? Losing 80% of your employees in six months, 80% of your employees in six months is wild. Think about the amount of processes that are lost and forgotten. Think about the amount of tasks that just aren't happening. Think about the privacy security issues that could arise. Think about the developmental issues with the engineering team. There was another report that stated that Twitter had been down more frequently in the past six months than it had been in its history. And I'm not surprised. There was a day I can't remember earlier this year where all the links were broken.
Like no, no external links were working. There was one day where Twitter was just down. It wasn't updating, you couldn't post a tweet, your feed was just an old feed. It's things like that that have me questioning as a business owner, if I wanna spend my time on a platform that is so riddled with mistakes that it's challenging to have any level of predictability. So to me, that's the biggest red flag, is the amount of staff that this company has laid off. So we're gonna take a quick break, and when we come back, I'm gonna have, let's see, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5 other things that make me nervous about Twitter. And one good thing, I'll end on a good note. It's a little bit of a bittersweet thing, but we'll talk more about it after the break. We'll be back soon.
[Podcast Ad break] Social media is constantly changing. I know that you know that, but not all of these changes are pertinent to your business. That's why I created the feed. The Feed is a private audio experience of curated social media news and updates that relate to your business. So ditch the overwhelm and download the feed today. And no, this isn't a subscription service. Pay one fee and get access to our entire back catalog along with every single episode re-release in the future. Head on over to onlinedrea.com/feed to start feeling like a social media expert today. [Podcast Ad break]
Okay, and we're back. One thing I meant to mention earlier about Twitter being down so often is that Elon Musk actually tweeted at the time, “this platform is so brittle, sigh, will be fixed shortly”. <Laugh>. It's like I, if he feels like a caricature of what a person is, and I, I don't know how I feel about all of this. It's, it's very confusing to me <laugh> who he is as a person. All right, next big change that I think business owners should pay attention to is paid verification. So Twitter Blue is Twitter's paid verification model. And when it was first announced, a lot of people had a lot to say about this paid verification model. Now, this verification happened in December of 2022. So just two months after he became the CEO of Twitter. It is $8 a month to be verified on Twitter or $11 if you're on iOS.
I'm on iOS and I'm in Canada. So I think when it hits my account, it's like $14. It's a bit much to be for what it is, but you know, I'm here for science <laugh> testing it out, but I currently don't recommend it because I don't see any difference right now. Now, at the time that this episode will come out, supposedly their new for you timeline will only be available to those who are paid. But I just, I talked about this in The Feed podcast, I really struggle to see how that benefits the user, right? I understand how it benefits Twitter, like they're obviously making money, but as a user, when I scroll through the for you timeline, I'm already not impressed. And now you're gonna take away the content. Only show me people who pay to be there feels a little bit biased to me, and I still think I would swipe over to my following feed and like, I wanna look at the posts from the people I follow.
Unless you're TikTok, because TikTok is for you. Paige obviously clearly is the winner. Their algorithm knows me, I love it. They love me. I've yet to find something that's sat competitive and Twitter is not, they're not doing a great job of it already. Okay? So Twitter paid verification. Should you do it as a business owner, my answer is not yet, but I do think it'll have a big impact on reach, especially as users start leaving the app. I think it'll be interesting, those who are left, me included, how much more attention our content will get. And if, because of all of the reasons Twitter is in the news, if they'll see new users coming in. But as of right now, we're not seeing more people using Twitter. Seems like it's declining both in people actively using it and downloads in the app.
One thing I loved is in the Social Media Today article. This is by Andrew Hutchinson who writes a lot of the articles on social media today that I like said Twitter verification is digitally cosplay as celebrities in the app. And we're seeing this impacting other apps as well. I mean, meta now has meta verified, so it's tough to say if social media apps are gonna go this direction. I personally don't want them to, I do not like it, but I'm also playing their game because I'm studying them as marketers, so I feel like I'm adding to their numbers without necessarily advocating for it anyways. So we'll see how that impacts business owners right now. It's a no for me, the next thing that's gonna impact business owners is their account rele. So I actually think this is a good thing as a company, especially one that is supposedly for free speech.
Now, I don't think that there, I do think that there are lines that can't be crossed. However, major public figures like Donald Trump is now reinstated on Twitter. And I may get a lot of hate for this, but I think it's a good thing just in the general context of conversations in the online space. I think silencing someone is dangerous, and I think silencing someone without going through due process is dangerous as well. I don't want one person, Elon Musk, to have the ability to silence whoever they please because it will make for an echo chamber. A great example of this, I can't remember if I talked about this on the public podcast or the private podcast, but a great example of this is if you go to Instagram and you search the word France, the content that you're delivered is very different than if you go to Twitter and you search the word France, just go do it and you'll see what I mean.
I'll leave it at that. Let your curiosity spark you. Okay, I'm not gonna say anymore because I feel like I'm gonna get canceled <laugh>, but oh, I'll end with this. They reinstated something like 60,000 accounts. So it's gonna be interesting to see how that plays out. Now, even though certain people like Donald Trump are reinstated on Twitter, Donald Trump hasn't tweeted at all. So take that as you will. All right, next, the algorithm is changing. As I mentioned before, there's this brand new for you page, which opens up the discoverability for businesses. Now, as I mentioned, it's only for verified accounts, but this does seem to be a positive thing for me for the future immediately seems negative because it's only for verified accounts, but the more verified accounts there are, the more potential there is for discoverability. And Elon Musk also says that he wants to make the algorithm open source in order to improve it.
So if the algorithm is improved, it could mean better things for a business owner. But because there are so few employees at Twitter, now I'm very concerned about having an open source platform. What kind of information can be manipulated because of it? It's concerning to me as a user and as a marketer. I like transparency in social media apps, absolutely, but I'm unsure of how this will impact the life of Twitter. The last piece of bad news that I will talk about today is that Twitter's losing a lot of money. Y'all since Elon Musk took over, Twitter's ad revenue has declined by 50%. So they've lost 80% of their employees. their ad revenue is declined by 50%. This is reported by CNN.com, and that was as of February, 2023. We also have major brands leaving Twitter Balenciaga probably being the most major brand, which is, you know, a fashion house.
They left Twitter, deactivated their account, said bye bye, Felicia. Now coming back here one of my clients reached out this week as I'm preparing for this podcast and said, you know what? I'm out. Please deactivate my account for me. And we said, okay, we gotta understand. Like, it's not surprising. So the more people that leave Twitter, the more advertisers that leave, the more big brands and influencers that leave, the less that Twitter has impact. And advertisers will definitely leave after that as well. But not only that, there, there's a potential here for quite a lot of lawsuits on Twitter. I don't know if y'all have heard about this, but in March of this year, so last month, Elon Musk picked a fight with a former employee, Haraldur Thorleifsson. Elon Musk said that he fired Thorleifsson for using his, and apologies for the mispronunciation,
he fired this person for using his disability, which is muscular dystrophy as an excuse. 16 hours later, Musk tweeted that he jumped on a video call with the ex-employee, better to talk to people than communicate via tweet. And then he issued some sort of apology. I mean, the HR nightmare that this guy is constantly putting himself in. This is not the first time this has happened. When you lay off 80% of your staff, this is bound to happen. And especially the way that he's laying people off, the reason this whole story happened is this person lost access to their stuff. I don't remember what it was exactly like their email or something. They couldn't contact anyone at Twitter, so they tweeted, Hey, can someone help me figure out why I can't come to work today? You know, and that's where this conversation came from.
And so that to me feels wildly inappropriate. And when you lay off that many people, I just imagine there's so many more employment lawsuits to come up that's probably millions of dollars of this. And the rumor is there's over a hundred thousand arbitration cases from laid off employees right now. And yeah, that could be a massive problem. This conversation, by the way, came from a fascinating article that I read called How Much Longer Can Twitter Last, Really? by Dave Karpf. I'm gonna put the link to that in the show notes as well, because it's fascinating. Okay, the second thing with this, like Twitter, losing lots of money, category is the fines. Right now the company was fine, hundred and 50 million for user privacy violations. This was a year ago. And not sure if they've paid that yet, but since then, there are lots of reasons for the FTC to crack down on them again.
And there are open investigations right now in to FTC violations. And this isn't just in the US, European regulators have also sent repeat warnings that the company is in violation of the Digital Services Act, and it can face hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, okay? And Europe has a stronger, stronger regulatory state than the us. So there could be billions, BPA with a B, billions of fines out there. And this article that I read, How Much Longer Can Twitter Last, Really? predicted that these fines combined with the employee lawsuits could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Elon Musk could potentially file for bankruptcy, and y'all know, y'all know if this happens, he gonna blame it on everybody but himself, he's gonna say, look, they're canceling me. Look, nobody wants me to be successful. You know, typical narcissist behavior. Okay, that was kind of mean of me, but honestly, I'm feeling very emotionally charged by how Elon Musk is running his company.
But I said I would in this episode on a little bit of good news. So the good news is all the Twitter alternatives suck <laugh>. Sorry, that's a little bittersweet, but my team and I were talking about this last week. There have been, there has been a rise in popularity in some of the Twitter alternatives, and we've been testing them out, and they've just lacked the user base that Twitter has. So even though there's a decline in users, there's still massively more users than anything else. I think about something like Mastodon, where I have tried it several, many times and I find the user interface terrible. I find as a user, it's really hard to know where to start. I feel like the ones that I have joined, I'm walking in on a conversation that has already happened. I don't understand the lingo, and I can't, it, it, I shouldn't say can't.
It's very challenging to find conversations that I wanna participate in. I find that it is the opposite of TikTok. Mastodon is the exact opposite of TikTok. Whereas TikTok's algorithm tries to learn you and delivers content based on your preferences. You have to clearly know your preferences to go exactly where you wanna go, what you wanna do, and then you can join Mastodon. And it's not user friendly at all, in my opinion. And so because of that, for that reason, I think Twitter will stick around. And I think the big positive in all of this is perhaps Elon Musk can drive the price of Twitter down and someone better can come in and buy it maybe and turn it around. I don't know. What do y'all think?
Send me a DM on Instagram or tweet me. I'd love to know if you're in our community. We have our weekly community discussion thread. I would love to know from you there, what you think about the future of Twitter. Let's continue the conversation. As for me and mine, my clients who are currently on Twitter, if they wanna stay on Twitter, we will absolutely stay on Twitter. Any new clients that come in the door, or anybody in my school who wants to say, Hey, I wanna start Twitter, I'm gonna say hard pass for now. Why not TikTok instead? That's all for today. I'll see you back here with another episode soon. Bye for now.