From user, advertiser and NGO concerns about Musk’s changes to legal issues to a rise in hate speech, it’s a good moment for brands and organizations to reflect on what the new landscape means for their ongoing social media campaigns.
The landscape is fluid. But in this special edition of Capital in Context, we share our recommendations on what your communications team should be thinking about right now. And for more tailored advice, email email@example.com.
- Designate member(s) of your communications teams to follow Elon Musk on Twitter. Historically, brands could review Twitter’s Blog to keep track of changes impacting content strategy. This no longer appears to be the case, with Musk’s tweets now the primary source of truth.
- Audit organization/employee accounts that should acquire or retain verification—and prepare to pay for it. The Twitter Blue subscription plan, now updated to $8, will become the only way to retain verified-user status. Users currently verified will have 90 days to subscribe to the new Twitter Blue plan or have their verification revoked.
- In an “under-moderated” Twittersphere, consider how a lack of community management could impact conversation around your issue. Musk has signaled he is unlikely to permanently ban people for platform policy violations, which could lead to the reinstatement of former President Donald Trump and other banned users. Brands should prepare for more trolls and impersonators.
- Use existing tools to create a brand-safe space. Beyond the ability to block trolls, Twitter currently allows users to mute keywords, which prevents tweets with those words from appearing in the feed and in replies. Twitter also allows users to limit replies to posts to only followers or those mentioned. Using the native moderation tools still available to Twitter users can allow brands to filter for any sensitive topics and prevent unwanted comments from being seen widely.
- Establish and enforce your online community standards. As content moderation dwindles on Twitter, lean on your own community standards. Brands have the right to remove hateful, obscene or threatening comments and ban posters.
Make sure to reiterate or establish your brand’s online community standards, including:
- Ensuring the standards are posted clearly on your website and/or across social media accounts;
- Aligning the purpose of the social community with the values of the brand; and
- Clearly dictating a content moderation policy.
- Revisit your platform commitment and monitor emerging platforms. Remain flexible in your marketing strategy and prioritize a multichannel campaign approach wherever possible. This means considering if/when to minimize the platform as a priority communications tool – especially if a large segment of users migrate from the platform or the platform ceases to maintain its current function (and reputation).
Paid Campaign Considerations
- Be nimble. There’s a great deal of speculation but little clarity around what Musk’s approach means for paid media.
- Maintain brand safety vigilance. Currently, Twitter’s commitment to brand safety remains unchanged. But Musk may relax content moderation policies that impact advertising. Brands should be prepared to alter paid strategies if they risk appearing alongside false and/or non-brand-safe content. But given the importance of advertising to Twitter’s business model, changes here may be slower than many expect.
- Watch the industry. Some companies have temporarily halted their advertising. Interpublic Group (IPG) has advised clients to pause ads citing an “unpredictable and chaotic” situation. Reports indicate Musk has been meeting with Madison Avenue agencies to keep them on board, with most taking a “’wait-and-see” approach. Ultimately, advertisers provide 90% of Twitter’s revenue, and Musk and Twitter are under pressure to take their concerns about content moderation and hate speech seriously.
- Expect more changes. Musk has more in mind for the platform, such as a free edit button, long-form tweets and spambot control. Removing bots could help ad engagement. As content policies change, Musk may also rethink Twitter’s current ban on political and advocacy advertising, opening Twitter advertising to campaigns and messages not allowed on the platform since 2019.
Questions to Consider
Every client and company faces unique circumstances in considering how and whether to engage with Twitter. The platform remains a powerful convening point, though changes are coming quickly and the future of the platform is unclear.
In charting a course forward, we recommend considering the following questions:
- What is your current exposure on Twitter? Is it limited to an organic media presence or does it extend to paid media as well?
- What role is Twitter currently playing in your communications strategy?
- What concerns have your stakeholders (employees, customers, vendors, local communities, interest groups, etc) expressed about your company/organization maintaining a presence on Twitter?
- How are you staying up-to-date and informed of platform changes?
- Are you tracking what your peers are doing?
- How are you preparing for potential platform changes?
- How are you assessing your platform commitment in light of platform changes?
- Will you pay to keep your “blue checkmark”?
- What steps have you taken or are you prepared to take to moderate or limit your exposure to hate speech?
- Do you view the current situation as “risky”? If so, what is your appetite for risk?
- If you continue to advertise on Twitter, are you prepared to answer questions from the media or respond to demands from advocacy groups?
- If you decide to pause your advertising, will you do so quietly, issue a statement or prepare a response for any questions you might get?