I’d never used Twitter to grow a following. That was until the world of Web3. When it comes to web2 and the traditional creator economy, however, is Twitter still worth putting effort into?
In the past, many creatives have found great success through investing in Twitter. Take writer Alice Lemée who after 6 months of Twitter investment in 2020 found herself with over 20,000 followers and was followed by the founder of Unsplash and found herself drowning in opportunities. ‘I tweeted almost every single day, pouring hundreds of hours into building my “personal brand,” convinced Twitter would concretize my success as a freelance writer.’
This tone really started to shift in October of last year when Musk bought the platform (it was short lived; he gave it over to Yaccarino earlier this month). Nowadays Twitter content feels a lot…drier. Gassed up men tweet consistently about entrepreneurship and political debates just aren’t as juicy as they once were.
There’s an illusory sense of community, fueled by people using ChatGPT to respond to comments or glaringly obvious audience-building techniques (i.e. “You MUST be following to receive [whatever free digital product]”). The content is algorithmic chicken feed, but it’s a relatively easy fix – the switch from the “For You” to “Following” tab helps. There are other factors that have sucked the life out of Twitter’s previous allure however.
One is the algorithm. Twitter used to be like YouTube – in that smaller, dedicated followings thrive. On YouTube, 10k subscribers is the equivalent to 100k TikTok followers and this used to be the case for Twitter. However now, posts will get seen by several hundred and only receive 20-30 likes.
Some might suggest subscribing to Twitter Blue to boost engagement. But apparently, it’s not very useful, with investor Mark Cuban sharing that he “thought paying the annual contract” would change the fact that he’s losing nearly 1,000 followers a day. “It didn’t,” he bluntly announced after a few months. Forbes reporter John Brandon felt the same way, writing, “Twitter Blue is not really worth the cost. I didn’t notice any difference at all in terms of new followers or even more interaction.”
Secondly, is it even worth the screen time? There are so many platforms to keep track of now as a creator – Instagram Reels, Instagram Posts, TikTok, YouTube Shorts, YouTube long form, email, pitching…
For a social platform to be worth it has to be great at community building and with Twitter not delivering in that way anymore it just doesn’t feel worth it.
Cal Newport’s book, Digital Minimalism reads as such; “assume, for example, that your Twitter habit effectively consumes ten hours per week. Thoreau would note that this cost is almost certainly way too high for the limited benefits it returns. If you value new connections and exposure to interesting ideas, he might argue, why not adopt a habit of attending an interesting talk or event every month, and forcing yourself to chat with at least three people while there? This would produce similar types of value but consume only a few hours of your life per month, leaving you with an extra thirty-seven hours to dedicate to other meaningful pursuits.”
Moving forward, the solution lies in thinking outside the box, where you translate Twitter’s online benefits into IRL ones. For example, if you use Twitter to “connect” with new people, attending a conference or seminar could have a similar effect. Hence why I use it to connect with the dedicated web3 community.