Twitter has left the conversation: panic at the university
We take a tongue-in-cheek (and slightly exaggerated) look at how the drama might unfold at a totally fictional university.
You’re a social media manager at a university.
It’s Monday morning and Twitter will be gone for good in 24 hours, either from bankruptcy or collective government action to block access.
If (or when) this happens, which of your colleagues are you running to hide from first?
The email came in at 5am, their usual time for searching Twitter for mentions criticising the university, with a long list of questions including
How will they know what’s being said about the brand?
What are you going to do about it?
Should they join TikTok?
The Press Officer
They’re ringing your phone, clearly panicking because they have a big press launch today.
Do you answer or wait for the email that’s coming next?
Twitter is only one part of the campaign plan, but the fall of Twitter has sent panic through the media relations team.
The PDF poster creator
Despite your years of attempting to educate them, they still insist on sending you a PDF poster to publish on social media for their upcoming event.
Will they even notice Twitter has gone? Probably not, but you can guarantee there’s another PDF request on its way.
The niche research project account
You know the account, the one with 14 followers where the team failed to engage with the university’s process for establishing new accounts (side note - Jenny Li Fowler’s blog for Sprout Social is a great read on this very topic).
They only want to push out content they want to share, and have no interest in learning how to understand audience needs.
They’ve emailed to ask if you can fix their Twitter account, it won’t let them log in.
The amazing academic content creators
This one hurts. These are the fantastic individuals who always remember to tell you about their work early. They rarely need help, and create plenty of engaging content.
They’ll have foreseen this day coming and no doubt have a tonne of questions about what’s the best next step for them.
You know they’ll grasp the next platform they make their home, with a bit of moral support from the social media team.
The crisis communicators
They relied on Twitter as their main avenue of communication for when campus has to close because of snow, or when the printers stop working in the IT block.
You’ve already told them crisis comms doesn’t work as well on other platforms, thanks to a multitude of algorithm changes (how we miss chronological feeds).
You’ve only just won them over on how Twitter works, it’s taken more years than you care to remember.
They’ve asked for a paper outlining the risks of the remaining platforms.
What’s their motive? How on earth are you going to find a way to manage legal approvals for TikToks?
Is it time to mark the legal emails as spam and claim plausible deniability?
The Twitter Trolls
They’re going to be homeless, but like hermit crabs they’ll find a new shell to hide under.
A few lurk here and there on other platforms but where will they gather en masse?
You’ve got a sense it could be Reddit, but are you right?
Your 6 step plan of action
1. Don’t panic - if Twitter really is heading for destruction at the hands of Elon, there are plenty of other channels. As they say, never put all your eggs in one basket.
2. Claim your profile names - regardless of impending doom, it is always sensible to claim your brand’s name on any new social channel that launches (whether you use it or not).
3. Reassure leaders (and grab an opportunity) - they don’t have time to learn everything about social media, that’s your job. Now might be a good time to ask them to invest in a social listening tool to give your brand a holistic view across all online platforms. The added bonus is they get an extra hour of sleep through not searching Twitter at 5am!
4. Lead with stats - for those worried about the loss of their preferred platform, demonstrate that Twitter isn’t necessarily giving the best ROI on engagement. The same goes for those accounts with low follower numbers, data trumps their demands.
5. Accept you can’t please everyone - be at peace with the fact you aren’t responsible for solving all of the problems your colleagues bring to you. The social media moaners will always have something to say, regardless of how much help you give to them.
6. Spend your time where it matters - gather the social media superstars to find out where they’d like to channel their energy. Could they be LinkedIn Creators or are they ready to jump onto creating Reels? Now is as good a time as any to explore how they can grow their digital skills.
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