Should We Still Be on Twitter?

Twitter debuted when I was in college – the concept of social media and digital marketing was SO NEW that there was not a single course on it yet. Some professors even questioned the legitimacy of these new platforms. How could this really be the future of media? Did I just date myself? Yep.

When I entered the workforce social media was immediately tossed my way – and I was hooked instantly. One of my early career “wins” was creating an influencer network on Twitter to help drive attendance to CEDIA’s annual tradeshow. In fact, that’s how I first connected with the Caster team: they knew the value of a program like this and maintained involvement with it every year it was run.

I’ve always been a big fan of Twitter-er X. However, the trajectory over the last year has caused more than a few (well-earned) side-eyes. New ownership is erratic at best; layoffs continue and no one is spared; new subscription models that were supposed to supply more than 50% of the company’s revenue this year are projected to earn less than 1%; and advertisers are pulling back ad spends.

So in some ways, we’re back to those early days of questioning Twitter. Is this worth it? Should we still support it? What role does it play in the evolving media landscape? If you ask Wired Opinion writer Paul Ford, God Did Us a Favor by Destroying Twitter. But maybe that’s a bit too extreme.

Let’s take a moment to look at some of the alternatives that are making their way into the media zeitgeist.

Platform: Mastodon
The Pitch:
PC Mag has one of the most comprehensive reviews on Mastodon. Here’s the tl;dr from their detailed breakdown:

  • Mastodon is an open-source project; the code is available on GitHub. This means that Mastodon benefits from transparency, with volunteers working to add new features and watching out for potential problems. Being open-source means Mastodon has a fundamentally different ideology than most social media services: Mastodon is intended to be free and ad-free forever.
  • Polls, quote-tweets, and analytics are just a dream.
  • While you can view a post – which Mastodon calls a “toot” – and its responses at a static URL, just like on Twitter, it’s harder to take action outside the web-based Mastodon client. Toots can be up to 500 characters long – so you do have some real estate to work with
  • The blue verified checkmark on Twitter might be an artificial tool of class construction (and probably data mining), but it also helps ensure you’re talking to the right person. And, more importantly, the wrong person can’t easily pretend to be you. Without a rock-solid method of verification, Mastodon isn’t likely to attract the celebrity interest that drove the early adoption of Twitter.

Verdict: Not the ideal alternative – proceed with caution.
While it may bring us great joy to ask our coworkers if they posted that “Toot,” this platform does not offer some of the features that we as PR pros value most. Our team often uses Twitter to connect with media and not knowing if you are talking to the right person is a big negative for us.

Platform: Discord
The Pitch: Discord found its roots in the gamer community, offering a better way for users to chat. It’s not a new platform; it was established in 2015 and boasts 150M users. So, there is some maturity with this platform, which makes it feel like a safer bet than Mastodon. What else is unique about Discord?

  • Discord operates based on communities. Users are able to start and join different servers within the platform to start discussions – it’s a real-time chat experience, more like a public Slack than Twitter. The downside is that the constant refresh makes it easy to lose track of conversations.
  • There are currently no advertising options for Discord. However, as one marketer said in a DigiDay article, “Discord is perfect for Twitter communities and fandoms that value real-time interaction, making it an ideal alternative for many Twitter users who currently use the platform to interact with other users with shared interests and passions.” As we all know, that’s not what everyone uses Twitter for.

Verdict: An Option for Some.
Depending on how your company uses Twitter, Discord could be worth exploring for meaningful engagement opportunities.

Platform: Post.News
The Pitch:
Capitalizing on the Twitter turmoil, Post.News has come onto the scene with an early BETA that was launched in November of 2022 –  as in, a mere four months ago – and already has a burgeoning waitlist of 530,000 users. What has Post.News promised that has gotten the masses clamoring to join?

  • Write posts of any length and share them broadly.
  • Comment, like, share, and repost content with your opinion.
  • Buy individual articles from different premium news providers so you can access multiple perspectives, not just the ones you’re subscribed to.
  • Read content from various sources in a clean interface without jumping to different websites.
  • Have meaningful discussions with friends, strangers, experts, and leaders.
  • Tip creators of engaging content to help them create more of it, via integrated micro-payments.

The downside? The waitlist to start, and Post.News is still very much in the BETA stage with many glitches and bugs still getting worked out

Verdict: Not Fully Baked.

We can understand the value in going to market fast and furious to capitalize on a moment – and we may be on the waitlist to join – but there is still some work to be done before this platform can be a 1:1 Twitter alternative.

The overall verdict: the changes to the beloved bluebird have been jolting for a lot of us, and it’s hard to know what Twit-we mean X headline will appear in the news round-up each morning. Should we all jump ship? Is it time to say goodbye? Not yet. There are other alternatives aside from the ones we explored here. It’s too soon to throw the baby out with the proverbial bath water. When combined with a holistic marketing and PR strategy, Twitter is an important piece of any company strategy and one that does not yet have a direct replacement. Could it be time to reassess if you are spending advertising dollars with Twitter? Sure. We’ve seen clients have great success with LinkedIn programs—but that’s a topic for another blog.

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