About two months ago, our lead social media strategist started noticing interesting changes involving the Twitter accounts we manage for clients.
Tools she and our team routinely used were suddenly disabled. Twitter’s technical support, which hadn’t been good, improved.
So, when news broke on Tuesday that Twitter had formally taken steps toward going public back in mid-July, Jeni Hinojosa wasn’t surprised. That was two months ago.
“The changes are all obviously designed to make Twitter more appealing to investors when the initial public offering is finally made – probably by Thanksgiving,” Jeni says.
“In some ways, they’re also improving the experience for users. But in other ways, some users will be disappointed.”
Overall, Jeni says, Twitter will likely remain one of the most effective social media platforms for connecting with both individuals and large corporations. That’s because it’s less personal than, say, Facebook, and – this is the biggie – it’s quick and easy to have a conversation with posts of 140 characters or less.
What are some of the changes Jeni has seen on Twitter and how might they affect you? She shares three:
- No more “automatic follow-backs” means the size of your following will grow more slowly. Some applications, such as Hoot Suite and Manage Flitter, allowed Twitter users to set up their accounts to automatically become a follower of anyone who first followed them. That allowed audiences to quickly swell – but it also removed human oversight. The result: Some of your followers, and some accounts you followed, would be fake, inactive or otherwise non-genuine connections. “I believe Twitter’s shutting down the ways huge audiences of fakes can grow so that they can be properly valued for the IPO,” Jeni says. While that’s generally good for users, one group who may be disappointed is authors trying to get literary agents or book deals with traditional publishers. “Agents and publishers want authors who have a strong base of potential fans, and one way to demonstrate that is to get big followings on social media,” Jeni says. “Authors may be unhappy that their following grows more slowly, but it will be better for them in the long run – it’s not hard to tell when someone has a mostly fake following.”
- Improved technical support – in some ways. Before the recent changes, if you ran into a problem with your Twitter account, you went to a “help” web page, filled out a form describing the problem, and submitted it. Then you had to closely watch your email for a confirmation and reply to the confirmation within 48 hours of receiving it in order for your “case” to move forward. “While that pesky process of watching for their email still exists, the ‘help’ page now offers troubleshooting steps so that you can try to fix the problem on your own,” Jeni says. “So certain problems are easier to correct.” The downside of the new troubleshooting measures? You’re forced to click through multiple steps and take certain actions, which can be tedious, before Twitter agrees that you have a problem and allows you to send a request for support. The help page is support.twitter.com.
- More advertisements. As Facebook did when it went public, Twitter is now offering users the option to pay for their posts to achieve more visibility. So now, you may find a post from an account that you don’t follow appearing at the top of your news feed. “Most recently, I’ve been getting posts about McDonald’s new Mighty Wings,” Jeni says. “It’s mildly annoying if it’s something you have no interest in, but it can also get confusing. You may see it and think, ‘Did I follow McDonald’s? I don’t remember doing that,’ and then you’ve got to check to see whether you did or not, since there are limits on the numbers of accounts you can follow,”
The changes to Twitter mean we’ll all have to adjust how we use the network but, as Jeni notes, we should be getting used to that by now with all the social media platforms.
“The more we can all share information about what works and what doesn’t work, the easier it will be,” she says.
“The good news is, this is the last of the major social media platforms to go public, so – for a little while anyway – we shouldn’t see too many more drastic changes.”