Twitter has banned bulk tweeting, re-tweeting, and liking of tweets, which has left many third-party developers of social media management tools scrambling. This move was ostensibly to cut back on bots spreading hate speech and Russian propaganda, but like any other new rule it is likely to have at least one unintended consequence.
This new rule may reduce the value of Twitter as a marketing tool for many businesses and creative types.
To illustrate the potential problem, consider a large company like Coca-Cola, or a large traditional publishing house like Penguin Books. In both cases, the companies maintain multiple twitter accounts, and while they have staff members who are responsible for creating social content on Twitter for them, that probably isn’t the extent of their job descriptions. They make use of some level of automation, and for the sake of promoting their products across their various audiences on Twitter, they probably do end up with a fair number of bulk tweets across multiple accounts. They also may repeat tweets over time, which may or may not land an account in trouble.
True, it’s unlikely that Twitter will end up shutting down any large corporate accounts with this new policy, but scale things back in your mind now. Consider writers who may promote their work through multiple accounts, or people who work in website design, SEO, social media management, etc. Part of their job description is to promote the work and information of their clients, which can easily lead to violations of the Twitter policy against bulk tweets from multiple accounts.
While there is a fair degree of specialization in technology work these days, there are still many workers who wear many hats on a daily basis. If this Twitter policy is going to be automated (which one is safe to assume it must be), it’s fair to guess that there will be many accounts suspended for violations, meanwhile all they would be guilty of is promoting multiple clients or brands across multiple accounts – for work.
I admit that I am assuming sooner or later, my own accounts on Twitter will fall as a result of this policy. I’m guilty of making use of automation, repeat tweets, and arguably my Twitter account is mostly a bot. It’s not that I avoid interacting with people entirely. I just view Twitter as a time-sucking necessary evil most of the time. If I don’t spend time on social media, I can spend more time writing, editing, coding, increasing my skill set, and maintaining a work/life balance that keeps me sane.
Somehow I suspect that I’m not alone in thinking that Twitter is a tool for work that is best left to someone else or a reasonably priced automation client. Even though Twitter doubled its character limit, the platform still isn’t conducive to intelligent debate. (Ironically enough, some of the accounts that Twitter is trying to purge with this new rule are part of the reason why businesses and creators may list as other reasons for abandoning the platform.) I have no illusions about ROI of my time on Twitter – it’s near nil. Yes, I do get some clicks on links offered there, but I don’t have time to experiment with posts for most of my own content. When speaking with clients, I still say that social media driven traffic is “nice”, but search engine traffic is always better. It’s more reliable.
So, time will tell how this latest brain child will play out for Twitter. Personally, I doubt that I will bother leaping through any major hoops to restore an account on it if I lose the ability to use it over the fact that my accounts are largely automated and re-post old tweets regularly. Again, I suspect I’m not alone in that assertion.