Unless you’ve been hiding out under a rock, or sitting on a desert island carelessly whittling away, you will have noticed that all is not well in the rarified lands of social media and billionaire willy-wavers. Let’s have a look at three things that have been going on and what the future may hold for those of you who need to know for social media management purposes. 

Threads Unpicking Twitter?

So, dear old Elon is determined to mimic one of his unsuccessful space launches and drive Twitter into the ground. This leaves room in the market for a micro-blogging “social” media app, with the emphasis on quick, short stabs of text in a freewheeling, open system driven more by topicality with a dash of popularity. All good, all very democratic. 

Up to the plate, steps dear old Mark Zuckerberg, that kindly, benevolent, billionaire who only wants the best for humanity and most of its money. And Lo! He just happens to have a revamped version of Instagram, Threads, lying around which flips the app on its head and makes text threads the most important feature, rather than images of unnatural beauty presented as “normal”.

Zuck released this app, a potential Twitter-killer, in a slightly half-baked, rush-to-market hoohah 2-3 weeks ago and it broke all records for downloads and user adoption immediately. We’re talking a couple of hundred million downloads in a week, which is nothing to be sneezed at.

And then…… nothing really. Like a lot of people, I signed up, followed my friends, some of them followed me back, I had a quick poke around, but it hasn’t yet reached the critical mass of interesting relevance to make me go back time and again. Meta will be in a rush to push new features to the app, and will be busy persuading important creators and influencers to make it their new home. A few naysayers on the internet also pointed out that Zuck doesn’t have the best history on user privacy and data usage, but then those people were unlikely to ever sign up for a Meta enterprise. 

Now the brouhaha has died down a little, time will tell if Zuck wants to invest a heap load of cash and tech time to create the New Twitter, or if it will be cast aside unloved in a corner somewhere talking mindlessly to people in the Metaverse (remember that?). The jury’s out, but it’s not like Zuck doesn’t have the resources to  make it happen. Watch this thread. 

Twitter Flies Into A Window: Squawk!

The old joke goes, how do you become a millionaire in Social Media? Invest $44 billion in Twitter and flush the investment down the toilet by running the enterprise like Sideshow Bob on something wacky.

The flushes are too many to count: get rid of 50%+ of staff, including core developers; allow previously banned users back on the platform (and they don’t all come); created a non-verified, paid-for verification system; close off the API and charge outrageously for access; and the latest coup-de-grace (which may have been walked back by now): limit your users ability to view content, by setting a maximum number of viewable tweets per day unless you pay. 

Each and every of those actions have generated negative coverage, shocked at how users, advertisers could be treated like that. The latest commentary from Musk is that Twitter is still very much in negative cashflow territory, and so with declining advertisers, stillborn paid memberships and semi-credible alternative apps coming online, it really is looking like we are seeing the death spirals of one of the big social media giants in realtime.

Like a lot of the social media networks, Twitter has always had the potential to be a force for good, and occasionally has been. But the owners discovered that “piss and vinegar” drive views, so they let arguments, flame wars flourish in a knife edge battle keeping it fanned enough to drive views, and cool enough not to scare advertisers away. It turns out that this is likely to be self-destroying in the end. For shame. 

Reddit Mods Kicked Off

Not to be outdone by Elon’s gigantic tanty on Twitter, Reddit joined the fun and games recently, modifying access to its APIs which had the unfortunate effect of killing some very popular alternative apps to access the site. Furore ensued and the volunteer moderators ensured subs were shut down, turned private, turned into NSFW, put on other go-slow type strike action. 

And what happened as the outcome? Generally nothing. The API changed, subs re-opened, mods were retired, voluntarily or otherwise, and the site (mostly) came back to normal. Realistically, what else did the moderators expect to happen? There are lots of comments that this is the beginning of the end for Reddit, but mostly that stems from moderators having an overstated sense of their self-importance – remember they are unpaid volunteers, they don’t “work” for the site and the site retains full ownership rights of the subs, their contents and everything, lock, stock on barrel. 

Reddit was one of the remaining free-wheeling, random places left on the inter webs. Insta is polished, Facebook is dead, Twitter is a cesspit, TikTok (like YouTube) is great for views and distraction, but social? I’m not so sure. It would be a massive shame to see it downgraded to a lite / dumb version of its current self, but that is what is likely to happen. Of course, Redditors of old claim it has already crossed the rubicon into being saccharine and dumbed-down.

So there we have it. Lots of churning, emotion and business biffing for not a whole heap of outcome currently. If I were a betting person, I’d say Threads will grow once it finds its place in the social-verse and Twitter will fade into much lesser importance. Reddit will continue to be the odd one out, the slightly dorky relative that doesn’t quite know what to do with itself.