In my last social media post I talked about Facebook and interaction, marketing, and the upcoming changes. In this one, I get to rag on Twitter.
The terrible, terrible user interface update aside, Twitter is becoming an unusable platform as well. Especially for its users.
It has never been a great social media site for sales, but it could be used as a way to connect and reach new readers by interacting with them. People buy from creators that they know and like. Once upon a time even Twitter used to be a place where you could get to know and like other people. It can still happen now, but it is much, much harder.
It used to be, when Twitter worked in a mostly chronological manner, that you could update with similar posts multiple times a day. That maximized chances of all your followers seeing your content (this gave birth to the #ICYMI hashtag). When it became possible to retweet your own tweets, you could basically do the same thing. Most of your followers would see you if they were surfing their feed, though with Twitter’s format it was easy to get lost in all the updates.
But over the years there is now a quality filter. Shadow-banning. Algorithms rather than a chronological feed (and like Facebook, you have to keep constantly turning it on to avoid seeing Top Tweets all the time). Sometimes when I’m bored I can scroll twitter and I’ll just endlessly see the same tweets over and over again.
I’m following over three-hundred people. I shouldn’t be able to exhaust my feed so easily. Not to mention this new hellscape where I’m seeing replies and posts from accounts my mutuals follow but I don’t. It’s completely wrecked my feed so it’s just full of rage-inducing bullshit. If I wanted to see what these accounts are posting, I would be following them!
Interaction is way down. I can post things and not get any likes or comments. I don’t think my Twitter friends are even seeing most of my content anymore. It’s gotten worse recently, other users have noticed it:
My engagement over the past few weeks has dropped off significantly. I have over 16k followers and get like 4 likes per post. On Insta I get thousands for the same exact content ¯\_(ツ)_/¯— Charles C Dowd (@CharlesCDowd) July 18, 2019
I legit have no idea how anyone gets real engagement on Twitter anymore, mine has been in the toilet for a WHILE. Unclear if this is one of the factors in my sales dropping significantly in the past month but HMMM— Noel A Heimpel 🌻 (@NoelArthurian) July 18, 2019
Full disclosure, these are all replies to one thread in particular that I will link in just a moment.
Interaction is down, even if you’re not trying to sell anything. What’s the point of being on Twitter if I see the same tweets over and over again, and I don’t even get to have conversations with people? Or have anyone seeing my feed at all?
And now we’ll get to the thread I mentioned earlier.
Twitter: use our platform— Duchess of Beefcake🌈💪 (@jendrawscomics) July 18, 2019
Twitter: but hyperlinks and RTing your own tweets will drop you out of our algorithm
Artist: oh, uh…okay
Twitter: don’t think we don’t see you trying to beat the system with bump tweets, either
Artists: 🙃 thanks https://t.co/zyZrOGfq31
Twitter is now specifically penalizing certain kinds of posts. Posts that drive exposure and interaction. They want you to have an all new, completely original, constant feed of content that almost no one will see or interact with. Sounds fantastic, right?
You can’t share links to your outside work. You can’t retweet your own posts to increase your exposure (which is now minimal thanks to new algorithms). You can’t comment on your old posts to push them back into people’s feeds.
OH and surprise…
Oh, and don’t forget: if you post too many similar tweets (e.g., reposting the same image again), you might get flagged as spam! 😶— Kira S. Roth (@kirasroth) July 18, 2019
If you want to share your book cover or your art, if you show it too much it’s spam. Even if your followers don’t see it, or if you change the text relating to it, or you don’t spam it.
I used to love all these social media sites/apps because they did what I needed them to. Then they made it HARDER to get anywhere with them. Now I use them because I have to reach my audience any way I can, even if the tools I use fight me every step of the way.— LateCustomer (@LateCustomer) July 18, 2019
Instagram is getting bad, too. Social Media is rapidly becoming worthless as a way to build a fanbase. As a user, I can’t even be social on it anymore.
What to do as an author or artist? Own your own real estate, so to speak. Use Social media as a way to drive interested parties to your other stuff, as much as it is possible to do so. Have a mailing list. Go back to your blog. Have your own website. Start your own forum for fans.
Would I give up on it completely? No. You have to have some presence in this day and age. But minimize the time you spend on it, and don’t bank on it being a big and easy driver for your business. It’s also wise to use the “outpost and fortress” method. Pick a few accounts, and use them to funnel people as best you can to other places where you control interaction a little better. This also keeps you from spending all your time on social media keeping up with lots of accounts.
Don’t give up. It might be frustrating. It might be getting harder to make it with the social media giants actively working against you (whether through malice, greed, or just ineptitude). This is just another way for big tech to be a boot on your face and silence dissenting opinions. Refocus your efforts and don’t waste your time on strategies that don’t work. And use social media for what you can get out of it, even if it isn’t ideal.