The Twitter implosion – what it means for social listening and traditional news media

For some time now, we’ve considered Twitter to be of limited value to brands and their marketing efforts. It’s a platform in the soapbox sense of the word, where users go to reinforce their own biases and preconceptions. Especially in the aftermath of Elon Musk’s latest perverse attempt to limit the amount of content users can see, Twitter has lost all credibility as a business communication channel. Meanwhile, Meta has been waiting in the wings for the opportune moment to launch an alternative.

The ‘cage fight’ between Musk and Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, whether it turns out to be a sell-out event in Las Vegas or an absurd figurative challenge has only confirmed what many of us have suspected. It’s all about ego and sometimes hints at desperation. From our perspective, no amount of product reinvention looks likely to save these social media giants from a reduction in usage among communication professionals.

The rise of generative AI might make it easier for communication teams to produce content for social channels and some of this copy might be highly readable. However, readability is not the same thing as credibility. Consumers of news and marketing information are the ultimate arbiters of what is credible. Our view is that the deployment of AI in content creation will lead to an explosion of synthetic social content, which will further erode trust and increase consumer scepticism.

This is hugely problematic for social listening tools. Twitter in particular is swamped with bots, so obtaining a clean data set for analysis is already difficult. AI exacerbates the inability of consumers and listening platforms to distinguish genuinely authoritative and accurate content from machine-generated compilations of input from various unacknowledged sources. We predict that social listening in future will have a much harder time trying to provide reliable insights for marketing communicators. Starting with flawed data leads to wholly unreliable conclusions and poor decision making.

These developments do, however, play straight into the hands of traditional media. Once again, despite their oft-predicted demise, respected publications – especially in the online world – will gain the upper hand over the social upstarts. Even if their journalists eventually use AI-generated content, it will be properly researched and credited to the source publication. At Metricomm, we know that media coverage is far more powerful than most companies realise and now, it could easily return to being the source of choice for consumers who trust the masthead.

Being able to understand the impact of media content on audience behaviour and explain its true impact on business results is suddenly far more urgent for organisations who have invested heavily in social platforms in the past. PR demonstrably moves customers along the path to purchase, impacts revenue and affects share price. Diverting budget to PR activities informed by insights that provide robust analysis of effectiveness over time will be a much smarter tactic for 2023-24 than continuing to pour budget into the social cage fight.

To find out more about Metricomm’s audience-centric approach to media effectiveness, contact hello@metricomm.com