Whatever else you might say about Twitter, there’s no denying the company has always made users bend to its will. Everything else you write and share on social media is merely a “post.” Twitter insisted their platform’s compositions be called “tweets”—and our language usage had to get in line. Before long, even people with wrinkles and aching knees and refinanced mortgages were sayings things like, “Did you see my latest tweet?” and “I retweeted the president’s list of recommended books.”

Do you like to write as much as you want? Forget it, Twitter said. Now you only have 140 characters to make your point. Other platforms adopted their approach, such was Twitter’s apparent gravitas. Now it’s 280 characters, which still feels cavernous to early Twitter users. But mostly, users didn’t even question such requirements or parameters. Maybe that’s why certain government and industry leaders—individuals who like to interrogate their relationship with authority, to say the least—have been drawn to the platform. 

In terms of active monthly users, however, Twitter has never fared well against other titans of social media. Facebook reigns in that regard, and it’s hard to compete with YouTube or Instagram, of course. Or Tik Tok. Or several other platforms many Americans don’t even know. In fact, Twitter ranks second-to-last in active monthly users. Only Pinterest has fewer.

Still, Twitter’s cultural reach—seemingly influential and prominent—has always been outsized, making it appear more important than it really is. What would television news producers have done over the last 15 years without the option to display tweets by a celebrity or politician? That started happening years before Donald Trump used more than 11,000 tweets to reshape how we view the presidency. 

Beyond matters related to Elon Musk’s takeover—which has meant firing most Twitter employees, ditching its globally recognized brand, and choosing to name yet another company “X”—we’ve certainly begun to question Twitter’s usefulness to marketing efforts. Several factors suggest that it might no longer be an effective avenue for achieving marketing goals, if it ever was.

Musk’s recent decisions for his pet platform include removing content moderation of any kind, which means your tweets (or whatever they should now be called) might appear right next to those from a recognized hate group. How will that help an organization’s outreach efforts? Musk wants to remove headlines from links and limit what, if any, text or images are previewed, as well. Advertisers remain unhappy with the Company Formerly Known as Twitter since he took over, and Musk admitted recently that the whole thing “may fail, as so many have predicted.”

If you only use Twitter to vent frustration that your favorite sports team has declined into mediocrity, or to convey your excitement about an upcoming Marvel movie, please carry on. But if you consider Twitter a viable path to reaching potential customers, here are a few reasons why it might be time to shift your focus:

Diminishing Organic Reach

Twitter’s algorithm changes have led to a decline in organic reach for most businesses. With so much content flooding users’ feeds, getting your message seen by your intended audience has become increasingly challenging. It’s now incredibly difficult for marketing efforts to gain traction without resorting to paid promotion—which is what Musk wants—but experts cite “a downward trend in paid advertising spend, and rightful concerns about security and imposter accounts” on the platform.

Limited Engagement Metrics

Twitter’s engagement metrics have their limitations. While retweets, likes, and replies provide a basic understanding of engagement, they don’t necessarily translate to tangible business outcomes. Metrics like click-through rates and conversion rates, which offer deeper insights, are often harder to track effectively on the platform. During Musk’s acquisition of the company, Twitter revealed that it had previously overstated user numbers, too.

Character Limit Constraints

Twitter’s 280-character limit per tweet can be restrictive when trying to convey meaningful information about your products or services. This limitation may hinder your ability to communicate your value proposition effectively and engage your audience with compelling content. For B2B entities, using LinkedIn is often more effective, even though LinkedIn prefers content without links and calls to action.

Fragmented Audiences (and Bots Galore)

The demographics of Twitter users can be quite fragmented. Depending on your target audience, it might be more efficient to focus on platforms where your ideal customers are more concentrated and engaged. Even Google Business Profile offers more potential for engaging with an excited customer base these days. The “bot problem” and abundance of imposter accounts is real, and even though Twitter claims it removes a million bot accounts per day, anecdotal feedback from users suggests it’s not enough.

More Dynamic Opportunities

As new social media platforms emerge and user preferences change, staying adaptable is essential. TikTok, Instagram, and some of the emerging platforms might offer more dynamic and engaging opportunities for marketing efforts, depending on the industry and target audience. Shopify has essentially transformed its Instagram account into a blog with more than a million followers. Instagram, in particular, has been particularly useful to our work with some clients.

Higher ROI with Other Platforms

Social media requires consistent and engaging content creation. Allocating resources to Twitter when it likely will not yield the desired results wastes time and money that could be better spent on channels with higher ROI. For that reason, we almost never recommend Twitter to clients when presenting ideas for social media campaigns. Instagram and LinkedIn, yes—quite often, in fact. Facebook? Sometimes, depending on the client’s goals. But almost never Twitter.

Declining Active Users

While Twitter still boasts a considerable number of active users—again, just not as many as nearly every other channel out there—its growth rate has slowed compared to other social media options. Over time, this could lead to an ever-decreasing engagement rate, no matter how good the content effort might be.

Final Thoughts

Here at Rare Bird, our marketing team is constantly evaluating our own social media strategy, as well as what clients need to know and consider, and what efforts might yield the greatest impact for their businesses. Earlier this year, when we said it’s time to “get strategic about your social media outreach,” we also pointed out that most people spend nearly 2.5 hours a day on social media. That’s a lot! But since the average user only checks out Twitter for around an hour each week, theirs is only a small slice of that pie.

Without even delving into the language-related ramifications of the company changing its name to X—the act itself can no longer be called tweeting, and we probably shouldn’t keep calling them tweets, either—why would any business want to put an “X” alongside the other social media icons on their website? That’s a symbol that signifies to computer users that it’s time to close or leave a program.

Twitter was once a powerful tool for engagement, but perhaps it was never as wide-reaching as it seemed. Its evolving landscape and limitations should prompt a reevaluation of its role in most marketing strategies. Other platforms offer more favorable engagement metrics and a broader reach, and for most businesses, it might be time to bid farewell to Twitter. We’re dialing back how often we tweet (post on X), as well.

Reach out if you’d like to talk with us about how we can help your outreach efforts on social media.