Did Twitter shoot itself in the foot on purpose?

This one is a little far fetched, but if you follow my logic you might see the basis of an idea forming. The outline of a self inflicted wound on the eve of a major battle.

Twitter has some huge accounts. Many of those accounts have been developed by people using the follow/unfollow method. The method for those who don’t know it is quite simple. If I send out a 1000 twitter invitations (usually using an automation tool) I will pretty consistently get 100 people following me back.

Not everyone is following back because they want to reciprocate altruism, they want to grow their accounts too. At the start you probably will not have the full 10%, but it averages out.  Let’s say that small accounts take longer to build a following, so you hang around in the low 100s for a while.  The upshot of it all is that over time you’ll get quite an audience. A lot of people will see your message, particularly if you’re chasing an audience in a particular niche.

This is a quick method to build out your digital media outreach. Till now, it’s been one of the best ways of pure advertising online without paying a huge amount of money. A big audience that is quite engaged in a relatively short time-span (three months=1000 is quite doable).

A few months back there was a big cull on twitter accounts of so-called bot operations. The principle was that bot armies were being developed by different political factions. This was true. US government factions seemed to have a particularly high representation, as you might imagine they would.

The latest foray by twitter has been to cut the total follow rate to 400 people per day. That seems fine in principle, but why now? The timing seems odd.

Your followback rate is now down to fifty per day (that’s not totally true because your incoming follow requests have also been halved). If you own multiple accounts the multiplier effect means you don’t really lose a huge amount, you just double up on accounts (commercial software can do this) instead. If you use one account or you use the privacy options, you’ll barely see a soul. You’ve lost the”news from different perspectives” element. This is a powerful part of your twitter news feed. You  may not agree with all of it, but you’re getting different viewpoints, angles, levels of proximity to events.

What they’ve done is in effect make it harder for the “starter” user to get a foothold or gain influence (an important term).  If you’re commercial, you can afford to bypass the limits using tools and paid tech. If you’re government or lobby group the same principle applies. You’re not too concerned, you still have one of the best APIs open to you and you can pay for the right automation tech.

Instagram uses a different formulation. You still won’t have much influence as a new user, but your posts can carry up to thirty hashtags. You can also follow up to 7500 people before you meet the max follow limit. The hashtags advantage gives you leverage even with a very low follower account. Hashtags are powerful.  You also have the bonus that all your content is on display. It doesn’t disappear in the flow. That endless scroll function is to your advantage.  Instagram can be a handy placeholder, but it is owned by Facebook, making it a possession of the “dark side.” You never want to fight a battle on the enemy’s turf.

Let’s look at the political landscape. Trump uses Twitter. The shitshow is about to start in America. Trump supporters are starting to understand how the Twitter platform works and how it might work to awaken “normies.”  They can use Twitter for political gain.  They can influence. Trump and his train have used Twitter as a key battleground for a reason, now the foot-soldiers are catching on too.

It’s a real-time news feed. News gets delivered faster than the “insecurity forces”can stop it. It’s like a cascade, once something is out there, it’s not going back in the bottle.

Some claim that Dorsey is against them (pro Trump faction), that remains in the realm of conjecture for now.

Dorsey may not be against them on a personal level, but there is intense leverage on him to “play the game.” Remember back to the disappearing of Alex Jones, Twitter was the last domino to fall. It took a few weeks of extra pressure. Apple was first, You Tube deplatformed Jones and the rest followed along dutifully, Twitter demurred for a while. That’s an aside, but one that should be noted.

So, now Twitter is effectively driving new traffic to Instagram. Why would you waste the time with a 50 follower Twitter page when Instagram will bounce you up to a thousand easily after just a few weeks? You then don’t want to keep Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all open on your phone, so you’ll cull the useless third one, justifying keeping the other two as a twinset and pearls. Bye bye tweety.

Instagram is a fully owned vehicle of the Facebook crew. Why would you send free traffic to Instagram right when you are the biggest game in town?  Why would you cut the influence potential right when the tide is turning for Trump, rather than against him? You’d be derailing the Trump train on the pretext that you’re cleaning up the bots. As I stated before you’re not touching the bots (they are automated and can be multiplied quite easily by having more accounts, which is what the botfarms do).

You’re hitting John and Josephine Doe in their ability to follow others and gain some traction. They don’t know how it all works. They just know that they’re following people who don’t follow back on a platform they don’t understand too well. Instagram seems simpler, more functional, more convenient. I’ve written before about the power of reach on social networks. Instagram is easier to understand initially. Post a pic, add some text, hey presto, you’re done.

Now, you may read me wrong and say 400 per day is a big number. I’m not disputing that. What I’m questioning is the timing. As stated; “…on the eve of battle.” This is not about effect, it’s about timing.

I’m saying Linkedin gives you 60 follows per day approx.  Linkedin company pages are a joke. Facebook is a bit sneakier (they compute the likelihood of you knowing someone based on the social graph and work a little numbers game on your follow rate).  FaceBook wants you to “own your profile”for various reasons, some valid, some not quite).  Both shut you down quite fast and have killed your reach (both organic outreach and depth/quality of incoming information long ago). To all intents and purposes Linkedin and Facebook are “dead” in terms of basic organic reach.  Facebook pages still function fine. Facebook groups are doing well as a consequence of Linkedin (Microsoft) killing it’s groups functionality.

Twitter is still a news feed, as is Instagram (to a degree) so they both carry real-time news value.  They compete directly.

So why shoot yourself now?


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