PR Tips for Navigating a Turbulent Twittersphere
As thought leadership becomes increasingly integral to brand strategy, recent years have seen PR and communications professionals center client campaigns around Twitter. From a PR standpoint, Twitter holds clear appeal. The platform allows brands to interact with millions of users worldwide and shape their persona in real time, at no cost.
However, tech mogul, Elon Musk’s, October 2022 acquisition of the platform has sparked changes in format and controversy that have many brands reevaluating their Twitter presence. The current chaos is reverberating into brand strategy, prompting PR and communications professionals to reassess protocol. Keep reading for a breakdown of the controversy and how PR and communications professionals can help brands move forward in the current media landscape.
Once a tool for establishing and maintaining brand identity, thought leadership strategies and connecting with consumers, Twitter has become a lightning rod for controversy.
Elon Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion with the outlook that Twitter’s guidelines infringed upon Freedom of Speech. Musk’s vision for “Twitter 2.0” (as he refers to it in internal documents) is one with a smaller workforce, that places less emphasis on content moderation, platform safety, product development and marketing. In November, Musk laid off nearly 50% of Twitter’s staff from associated departments, including its top executives. A cohort of former employees has retaliated with a class action lawsuit, claiming Twitter violated state and federal labor laws by not issuing a proper warning about the layoffs. As a result, influential civil rights and advocacy groups have called on advertisers to boycott Twitter.
Hate Speech and Misinformation
Public figures are leaving the platform due to the rise of hate speech and misinformation stemming from the lack of content moderation. PR and communications professionals can understand why corporate clients might also want to disassociate their brand from the platform.
In addition to concerns surrounding ethics and image, brands might harbor concerns about the safety of posting on Twitter at this time. Looser restrictions and organizational reshuffling might lead to lapses in security. Indeed, some security fears have already been realized. A feature that enables users to subscribe to Twitter for a small monthly fee to reap benefits, including a verified blue check, has been halted due to instances of users paying the monthly subscription in order to impersonate public figures.
Tips for Navigating a Messy Media Landscape
PR and communications professionals guiding brands through the current social media landscape will want to take the following actions.:
Assess Client and Firm Values
This time of great change and uncertainty provides an opportunity to check in with clients and determine how campaigns can better align with brand values. It is also a time to look inward. Assess firm values and decide how to move forward in the face of several possible scenarios.
Keep an Eye on Current Events
Seemingly each day brings fresh headlines of chaos at Twitter. The nature of the platform means internal changes are entwined with pop culture and political news, especially ahead of the 2024 Presidential election. PR and communications professionals will want to keep a close eye on the news as it unfolds to ensure clients don’t come across as insensitive to current events.
Explore Alternative Thought Leadership Avenues
A recent report found 65% of consumers have significantly changed their opinion of a company for the better after viewing thought leadership content. Thought leadership remains an important area of focus for brands. Companies that rely heavily on Twitter, might want to pause these efforts and reallocate resources to researching and utilizing alternative social media platforms, such as TikTok and LinkedIn.
Twitter 2.0 Calls for Strategy 2.0
Twitter 2.0 is on its way. Whether that proves to be a positive or a negative remains to be seen. In the interim, PR and communications professionals will want to take a mindful approach to clients’ brand strategy. They will want to assess client and firm values, stay informed of new developments and reallocate resources to developing thought leadership initiatives that leverage more stable social media platforms.
By Alannah Dragonetti and Courtland Long
Photo by Pexels