Will Twitter Succeed in Defeating Trolls? The Stakes for Marketers

“I’m addicted to you, don’t you know that you’re toxic?”

I can guarantee this will be the first and last time I ever open a blog post with , but the pop star’s 2003 tribute to perilous romance seems to perfectly encapsulate my relationship with — and I know I’m not alone.

via GIPHY

I love Twitter. It’s easily my favorite social network. I’ve been active on it for almost a decade, and during that time I’ve had countless enlightening conversations (mostly about and marketing), become friends with people I never would’ve encountered otherwise, and wasted more time than I’d like to admit scrolling mindlessly through my feed.

Twitter has some great perks — bite-sized content, real-time updates, tailored experiences — and these serve to strengthen its appeal as a marketing channel. But even as an avid fan, I can’t deny that it has also been fraught with negatives. At times, the platform can feel like a cesspool for abusive behavior, fake accounts, and bots deployed with the sole mission of harassing real users.

Recently, the company announced new measures in its continuing effort to improve the civility of discourse on Twitter while cutting down on fraud and abuse. Let’s take a closer look at these ongoing changes, and what they mean for social media marketers.

[bctt tweet=”I love @Twitter. It’s easily my favorite #socialnetwork. But even as an avid fan, I can’t deny that it has also been frought with negatives. – @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

Teeming with Trolls

In May, Twitter acknowledging the existence of “troll-like behaviors that distort and detract from the public conversation on Twitter, particularly in communal areas like conversations and search.”

“Fewer than 1% of accounts make up the majority of accounts reported for abuse,” wrote and . “While still a small overall number, these accounts have a disproportionately large – and negative – impact on people’s experience.”

The veil of anonymity that Twitter allows can be a good thing: it enables folks with sensitive public images to maintain a discrete social presence, and also facilitates hilarious fictional accounts like , a mashup of reality star Kim Kardashian and 19th-century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, and , which lives up to its name.

But of course, there are obvious downsides to this low barrier of entry. It’s all too easy to create a faceless and essentially untraceable account for whatever purpose one desires. Too often those purposes are nefarious. This rose to a head during the 2016 election and has become an increasingly prevalent sore spot for the platform.

As bots and empty handles became more pervasive, certain individuals began developing methods to game the system and inflate follower counts, and shaking marketers’ faith in the authenticity of their audiences.

“We aren’t proud of how ,” Twitter CEO lamented earlier this year, “or our inability to address it fast enough.”

While the company’s response has not been as rapid or forceful as some would like, Twitter is taking action.

Purging and Learning

Most conspicuous among these initiatives has been “The Great Twitter Purge,” a systematic effort to sweep out fake and suspicious accounts. Data obtained by the Washington Post showed that in May and June alone, at the .

(Incidentally, the aforementioned Britney Spears was among the in terms of lost followers, and plenty of high-profile marketers saw their numbers drop as well, though the .)

addressing two primary areas of concern:

It’s interesting to see Twitter taking forthright accountability for its broader implications in society. But what about the marketing implications?

What Twitter’s Moves Mean for Marketers

Twitter has always been a somewhat tough nut to crack for marketers, and the network’s diminishing reputation in the face of these controversial issues appears to be causing some businesses to further back off.

The from Social Media Examiner showed Twitter losing ground, with 62% of marketers using it in their strategies compared to 68% in 2017. Meanwhile, the finds Twitter fourth on the list of most-used channels for ads at just 13%.

While it’s pretty simple to incorporate as a tactic — schedule those short-and-sweet messages and fire ‘em out — the visible impact isn’t always there. It’s not uncommon to see brands with tens of thousands of followers getting only a handful of likes and responses to most of their updates, and clicks can be hard to come by.

When you’re pumping out tons of content and garnering minimal engagement, while also , it’s easy to see why many marketers haven’t found the juice to be worth the squeeze.

But these latest maneuvers from Twitter seemingly will only help.

If you saw your company’s following on the platform take a hit over the past few months during the purge, you’re not alone. But ultimately, it’s nice to have a little more confidence that you’re actually broadcasting to real people. As we’ve long been saying around here: .

Initial data backs up this hypothesis: Twitter reported an during Q2 2018 compared to Q1 as it implemented its cleansing procedure.

TopRank Marketing Social Media Strategist suggests that we’ll likely see a resulting rise in , but advertisers will essentially be paying for the same number of eyeballs because fake accounts and their false impressions are being eliminated.

While it’s not clear what fallout we’ll see as a result of these new exploratory research initiatives, the shift is bound to be positive for marketers. Any reduction in the “echo chamber” algorithm could potentially grow your exposure to wider and more diverse audiences.

[bctt tweet=”While it’s not clear what fallout we’ll see as a result of @Twitter’s new exploratory research initiatives, the shift is bound to be positive for #marketers. – @NickNelson #SocialMediaMarketing” username=”toprank”]

If the net outcome of these efforts is that Twitter users (even if there are less of them) become more engaged and active on the platform, that’s obviously going to help with content traction, both organic and paid.

“Any change that is made on social media in the interest of end users is ultimately valuable for marketers,” says McDougall.

[bctt tweet=”Any change that is made on #socialmedia in the interest of end users is ultimately valuable for marketers. – @megnificent_” username=”toprank”]

For a Twitter fanatic and marketer like myself, these developments are roundly encouraging. What’s your take? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Want to learn more about the present state of Twitter and social media marketing at large? Check out these posts from the TopRank Marketing blog:

The post Will Twitter Succeed in Defeating Trolls? The Stakes for Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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