Some Twitter users and advertisers have stated that they are leaving Elon Musk’s Twitter, but for both brands and consumers, that’s a customer service mistake.
Elon Musk, Investors Buy Twitter
After a long, drawn-out process that had Twitter employees and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) wondering if he would or wouldn’t buy the brand, Elon Musk closed on a $44 billion acquisition of Twitter. The deal survived a court case in which Musk and his investors sued to stop the deal on the basis that the Twitter board had vastly underestimated the number of bots operating on the site at about 5%.
Since purchasing the social media platform, there’s been concern that the outcome for Jack Dorsey’s San Francisco-based tech darling would be a bastion of hate speech masked as free speech. Activist groups have underscored this with the suspicion that President Donald Trump might have his handle reinstated. In the face of mass layoffs (inlcuding the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer), Musk tweeted to reassure advertisers that there have been no changes to the content moderation team since his Oct. 27 purchase completion.
Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists.
Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2022
To be clear, plenty of bloggers have discussed various aspects of Musk’s Twitter acquisition including Gary Leff, and Matthew yesterday on this very site. Gary’s post reflected that United choosing to leave Twitter ads may or may not have been part of a general withdrawal from social advertising, citing Meta sales challenges over the last few quarters as well, along with United’s aim to align its brand. Matthew discussed the importance of Twitter for breaking news which sometimes comes from journalists, sometimes bloggers, and sometimes other informed sources, and the need for verification of identity.
Please read their posts for more on the topic, my quick blurbs left out plenty. That said, this post really isn’t about any of that.
Some Users, Brands Depart (Or Claim To)
Some users have proclaimed they are leaving the service as are paid advertisers. Many of those who have said they will depart have centered Musk’s politics and perceived changes to content moderation. The notable public figures include Sara Bareilles, Toni Braxton, Shonda Rhimes, and Téa Leoni, according to NBC’s running list.
Whether they will or not is another matter. Every election cycle, it seems a contingent on both sides of the political spectrum claim they will move “to Canada” – few do (following President Trump’s election in 2016, just 655 more Americans than a standard year migrated to Canada.) One of the stated reasons Musk challenged the purchase agreement was due to the extremely high number of bots (non-human users) on the service masquerading as genuine users.
Twitter Is A Customer Service Imperative
Leaving Twitter – especially before any changes to content moderation have been enacted – is a mistake specifically for travelers. Twitter is one of the few places where brands have been particularly responsive to customer issues because of the double-edged sword and the potential virality of a bad but correctable situation. When an airline employee misbehaves (though it’s more likely to be a passenger), customers have a direct line in a public fashion that the airline has a vested interest in positively resolving.
Twitter response times are often much quicker than call centers (and it’s 6x cheaper), social media reps for brands tend to be more empowered to actually resolve a situation simply because it’s public for everyone to see. Dealing with travel issues are key because: speed can be critical to a stuck traveler, alternatives are slow and other channels are powerless to resolve issues, and purchases are largers with more impact on the consumer than other purchases.
If you’re no longer on Twitter, access to quick and responsive customer solutions representatives are lost.
For brands, pausing or discontinuing advertisements doesn’t mean that their Twitter response teams shrink, but with any other public misalignment with being supportive of the brand could mean they are less likely to staff them. Risk of a public relations disaster is lower with fewer users (and the reduction of bots) defanging the threat of Twitter for consumers.
Twitter, in its current state, keeps travel brands responsible for customer care and leaves issues in the public eye.
Travelers should think twice before abandoning a channel that has been one of the least expensive, and most effective ways to find resolution to issues. Brands too should consider their departures, whether purely in advertising or in total support as costs are lower, and supporting clients on Twitter also gives opportunities to be publicly part of the solution. However, much like the threats to move to Canada, I doubt serious Twitter users, regardless of their personal feelings, will move to other social media platforms instead. Then again, maybe Sara Bareilles will prove us all wrong.
What do you think? Is Twitter an important part of your customer support toolbox as a traveler? Do you plan on leaving the platform?