When digital media platforms change, it can feel like we’re drowning in choices to make. We have become accustomed to choppy waters in the land of social media, but recently the seas have felt rougher than normal.
I used to consider myself very much a barometer and champion of social media technologies, but alas, I’m a bit too long in the tooth to make that claim with any credibility anymore.
That said, it’s hard not to drop my two cents about the recent platform changes and upheavals in the world of content and social media. Perhaps you can treat this as the proverbial life preserver, or at best some water wings (and with that, I will not make any more nautical humor).
Twitter’s Agonizing Decline
It’s at the point where you just want it to shut down already. Even if you did have nostalgia for the good old days when it was the place to get news about what was happening in tech and later the world.
To me the real decline in the platform came with Dorsey’s infatuation with being a curator and buddy to celebrities on the platform. It propagated bad behavior and sensationalism, not to mention that during this time, fundamental usability challenges and abuse issues were not tackled.
The sad thing is that during the couple years leading up to the Musk acquisition, the company was finally starting to fix some major usability flaws as well as introduce some cool new capabilities.
Unfortunately, in the last several weeks, we’ve seen the decimation of their talent pool mount to a series of embarrassing technical glitches, performance problems and a rise in hateful and/or violent content. All of which made the ground fertile for the rise of Threads.
The recent explosive launch of Threads from Meta, has sparked huge volumes of conversation about whether it’s the “Twitter Killer” or something more. I think time will tell. There’s no doubt that the launch was the biggest event we’ve seen since social media has been a thing, but let’s not forget that they weren’t doing it from scratch. I remember a similar event in the B2B space just a few years ago, and that was the launch of Microsoft Teams.
Enterprise messaging had been a battleground for many years with various corporate platforms like Skype for Business, Salesforce Chatter, Lotus and others doing battle with the easier to install consumer chat tools like AIM and Yahoo, before Slack hit the scene and threatened to own the whole space. Microsoft was able to lean on it’s existing installed base of enterprise corporate desktop accounts to effectively turn on a user base in the millions virtually overnight. That’s not to say it’s not a great product, but that its easier to do big launches when you have big existing customer bases.
So what about the Threads value prop? As I said, for me the jury is still out, but I’m not counting on it becoming the town square for world news or anything resembling that. For me it has already mimicked some of the actions which marked the beginning of the end for Twitter, namely: a pandering to big consumer brands and celebrities, rather than thinkers, writers and reporters.
Maybe that’s a narrow perspective for me to bring; there should be a Threads for everyone, and not be as snobby as Twitter? Perhaps, but the content is already remarkably similar to what I see on Instagram and they could have just made this a feature of that app.
Linkedin, Medium and Substack
I am not going to spend a great deal of time talking about LinkedIn here. I was an early fan, and I’m still very much a heavy user. There’s no question that it has firmly established itself in the center of B2B content marketing, career development and talent acquisition: when you think LinkedIn, you think “business”. It’s amazing to think back to the point when that was not necessarily a given, and then they turned things around. More on the latest at LinkedIn in an upcoming post.
Despite some gorgeous design, and some really interesting experiments with media projects, I have a hard time seeing Medium evolving to become something like Twitter was (or that Threads purports to be). I think it’s provided a beautiful interface for original and syndicated magazine style content, and some useful communities in a few niche areas. The interface has also been very powerful and popular for brands or media outlets looking to rent their platform. I think they can potentially have a sustainable business model that’s focused on serving a few communities but not trying to be the be-all and end-all of web writing.
Substack on the other hand has really been on an impressive run, building on their initial model for standing up effortless newsletters and introducing Notes, which IMO takes the spirit of Twitter in a much more compelling direction. I’ve been enjoying the fact that the model has been a bit more insular than threads for starters, but mostly that’s because the community has started and expanded through content creator networks rather than meme factories.
What’s a Brand to Do?
I think the content experts more famous than me have already said it well. Social media should be fun, so go try as many of these on. You want a Threads account? Grab it and try it out. Should your brand be there today? Not so fast.
You don’t necessarily need to drop anything to go show up on Threads. That should all be dependent on your audience and how they’re using it. Anecdotally, we’re starting to see a decline in the last week from the initial burst of activity – it could be that not as many people want to type when they can share a picture.
The Future Holds More Integrated Publishing and Feedback Loops
I don’t think there is any doubt that the future we will continue to see more of is more integrated toolsets for writing, sharing and remixing ideas for public discourse.
We’re already seeing this integration happen not only within the platforms previously mentioned, where blogs, social posts and newsletters are all fluid constructs. There are also a new generation of AI-based prompt applications that generate full websites, and promotional social loops, such as Typeshare, Loopgenius and Durable; These are AMAZING for prototyping new concepts or even starting to build a following, but I don’t think there is any doubt that they will lead to redundant and/or junk content proliferation.
In my view the more interesting challenge yet to be solved is what will be the paradigm for trust among content sources, in a more federated and rapidly growing base of web content.
Thanks for Reading
I don’t have the answers yet, but I’m very interested in discussing any of the items above. Please leave a comment with your perspectives or drop me a line to discuss directly via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, Threads, Substack, or Medium. ✌🏻❤️🌮