Does 'Twitter-styria' pose a risk to your reputation?

Are you worried about how the Twitter chaos might impact your advertising investment and reputation? You're not alone. Many brands and organisations are scrambling to make sense of the swirling speculation, looking for the right way forward in the absence of any hard evidence for what the future will hold.

From our perspective, given the speculation and rising scrutiny on brands advertising on Twitter, right now we're advising clients to pause all paid campaigns for at least a few weeks until the situation becomes clearer. Investment in digital advertising and content promotion can be quickly diverted to other channels in the short-term. We're actively monitoring developments at Twitter and market sentiment to provide clients with insight that can help inform their position.

Following the $44 billion acquisition at the end of October, concerns have been growing amongst brands about how changes to Twitter leadership, policy and resourcing could impact the effectiveness of their advertising and reputation if they continue to invest. Musk's ambitions to liberate speech on the platform were widely reported prior to the acquisition. Since it concluded, there have been media reports that racist comments, hate speech and other objectionable content have begun to increase as users test his commitment to change.

There are increasing media reports and social commentary about changes to the structure and resources of Twitter, with leaders being replaced and staff being made redundant. This has made communication and action difficult over the past week, but reassuring outreach and messages from Twitter reps have started to land in inboxes over the last couple of days.

They stress the beginning of a new chapter for Twitter and changes focused on "building the momentum as we turn the page." Whilst there's recognition of lay-offs, Twitter reps are seeking to reassure the customers team has not been impacted as much as other parts of the company, so levels of service shouldn't be affected. They also reassure that Twitter's strong commitment to content moderation remains unchanged. Despite brief spikes due to coordinated attacks, Twitter levels of hate speech remain within historical norms, representing less than 0.5% of tweets per day among hundreds of millions.

An increasing number of brands are taking the precautionary step of pausing their campaigns whilst there is so much negative press. With all the media focus and speculation, they will be cognisant that journalists are likely hunting for examples of brands not managing the risk of their campaigns appearing alongside unsuitable content on Twitter. They may also imply that a lack of action by a brand could be regarded as implicit support for Elon Musk and his ambitions.

It will likely take some weeks for the new policies and practices at Twitter to be clarified and tested to the extent brands can be confident again on the channel. In the meantime, we're recommending a 5 point action plan:

  1. Act - Consider pausing Twitter campaigns for a few weeks to avoid wasted investment and reduce reputational risk.

  2. Align - Make sure your market position is aligned with global brand guidance.

  3. Switch - Change current plans to divert investment into other channels so that performance and progress against objectives is maintained.

  4. Monitor - Actively monitor developments at Twitter and in the market to keep positions up-to-date and in line with stakeholder expectations.

  5. Plan - Begin scenario planning to adapt strategy in the event of a prolonged absence or complete departure from Twitter.

Article written by Neil Bayley, managing director business & corporate, Good Relations

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