In a digital age where social media platforms play a pivotal role in connecting organisations with their audiences, the decision to abandon a platform can be both strategic and symbolic.
The Association for Cultural Enterprises has made the decision to bid farewell to Twitter/X. This departure was not a hasty choice but a thoughtful response from the team to a series of contentious changes at X that have significantly impacted user safety, content visibility, and overall alignment with our organisational values.
The deterioration of safety features, such as reduced moderation and incentivising violent and disturbing content, has been a talking point amongst social media and digital professionals for some time now. Recent articles have underscored the growing prevalence of cyberbullying, hate speech, and harassment on X, sparking concerns about the platform’s commitment to fostering a secure online environment.
The new management introduced creator payments in 2023 to generate engagement at whatever cost. The platform’s algorithmic shifts and content curation policies now seem to prioritize sensational content. What’s wrong with incentivising engagement? Informative, creative, and funny content can still be found of course. But sadly it is the most violent, contentious, and hateful content which seems to do best. Such videos with millions of views now pay out thousands and thousands of dollars to their posters. Advertisers and users have started to leave the site, as timelines become less coherent, referrals are down and less reliable, and content becomes more extreme.
Many organisations are now questioning their position on the platform. For example two large media organisations have stopped posting content in recent months; National Public Radio (NPR) in the USA, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), notable because Twitter was long a bastion of journalists and writers, and media organisations still have large followings on the site.
The degradation of X’s performance and engagement has unsurprisingly had a knock on effect on user numbers, referral traffic, and user engagement. What about our followers and the traffic we get from X? Well, to be honest, the return we get is now negligible. It was never our most important channel for connecting with members, so now that reach and engagement is down there is even less reason to devote precious staff time to content (and kudos to Jo Whitworth, our Comms Manager, for growing our Twitter profile in the good old days). It’s a case of risk versus reward.
Maybe this is the perfect time to ask ourselves, does every organisation need to be on Threads, or Snapchat, or even Tik-Tok? Budgets are tight, and good social media is time-consuming. So wouldn’t it be better if we focused on quality over quantity when resources are limited, and staff time and energy is finite? I say resist the pressure from above to jump on the latest bandwagon, and make a strong case for which platforms are right for you to invest in.*
For us, we have found increased engagement on LinkedIn and Instagram, which suit our mission better, and it’s where our audience is now most active.**
In conclusion, our decision to leave Twitter/X is grounded in a conscientious evaluation of the platform’s evolving landscape. Safety concerns, editorial changes, and a misalignment of values prompted us to seek alternative platforms that better serve our mission and audience. We know we’re a small fish in a big pond, but it felt like the right thing to do.
What are your priorities for social channels? Have your attitudes toward X changed? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Give me a poke on Facebook.
*Have a look at our excellent Writing a Digital Strategy course.