X, formerly known as Twitter, is a channel we’ve been keeping an eye on internally. We’ve updated our recommendations to clients regarding its latest developments. This is especially relevant given Elon Musk’s recent antisemitic post and the Media Matters report that X was placing ads alongside white nationalist and pro-Nazi content:
- UK gov pulls advertising
- EU Commission pulls advertising
- Apple pulls advertising
- CEO urged to resign by ad execs
Plenty of other companies are also joining the recent boycott and many of our clients are asking Empower for advice.
Here’s how we’re recommending our clients assess their ongoing presence on X.
In this article:
What are the implications of moving paid spend away from X?
One possible move is to pull paid media spend from X completely, with the following implications:
- It will likely lead to less traffic/engagement on content, given that LinkedIn has higher media costs than X.
- LinkedIn has more targeting options and could be a more relevant channel to some organisations’ target audiences. This means that, although it might attract less traffic/engagement than X, this might be mitigated by a higher quality of traffic/engagement.
- Ending paid spend on X removes the risk for your organisation of being called out by online activists.
Should we remain active on X at all?
We work with a lot of clients in the climate change and sustainability sector, whose main event – COP28 – is taking place in December.
COP is still a key time for X, so it’s worth participating in the conversion through organic posts, engaging with key users such as journalists, influencers and policymakers, to ensure the ‘town hall’ feel remains viable.
If your organisation sees less value from X during the COP period or starts to see further high-profile organisations, leaders, media or policymakers leave the platform, it might be a good time to draw back.
If you are considering this option, we encourage you to follow the same short-term actions we’re taking on client accounts on X:
- Downloading account data
- Securing account passwords and 2-factor authentication
- Managing account responses: Use X’s tools to control who can reply, block, mute and, as a last resort, make accounts private
What are other clients doing on X?
- Lots of clients are holding back on leaving the platform completely, as they have invested a lot in building a follower base and still see some value in remaining.
- Some have chosen not to verify their profiles, as they don’t want to be seen as supporting Musk.
- Working with clients involved in live events, high in the news agenda, have confirmed the general thrust of our approach: that X is still the space for finger-on-the-pulse commentary, updates and newsworthy content, e.g. “What’s happening now?“.
In our team’s wider experience and at other agencies, clients concern has been widespread and growing in the last year, and the tide is moving in the direction of stepping back from X.
However, those clients often had the luxury of large budgets for LinkedIn during expensive periods (e.g. COP), to invest in lots of alternative new platforms, and to test non-social media partner platforms.
For many of Empower’s clients, large budgets are not a reality. And so where it is an easier decision for a larger brand, or individual, to step away from X, for a smaller organisation the decision is challenging. The reality being that a step back from X will lessen their impact and ability to reach crucial audiences, as they do not have the budget to bridge that gap.
How do individual countries feel about X?
We have seen a lot of reports from the US, but some clients are also wondering if there is an understanding of how other countries feel.
In our view, this is an international issue and is being debated in all markets. Arguably with slightly less heat than in the U.S.
Post-COP and into early 2024 will be time to reflect and plan ahead. Should X deteriorate further, we must consider the cost of stepping away from the platform and no longer reaching key audiences – civil society, media, policymakers, and corporates – who might still be on it.
Other areas to focus on are:
- Your website and email lists are yours to control and are less affected by X’s, or any other platform’s algorithms. Focus on developing these and you’ll be in a stronger position to communicate with your audiences over the long term.
- Continue building out your presence on other social platforms (like LinkedIn) and use this as an opportunity to refine the objectives and strategy for each platform.
- Make sure to measure each social media platform’s actual impact where it matters and not just through vanity metrics – how much value does X bring now? Would there be much of a difference if you did leave?
Here’s some further reading from our team on how to set a sustainable social strategy.
Need support on how your organisation uses X?
We’d love to come in and workshop this with you in the new year, as you look to set a course through 2024 and beyond.