A lot can change in 12 months. First, Elon Musk acquired Twitter for $44bn. And then, after annoying many of its users, Meta spotted an opportunity to launch Threads – a new social network that some deemed the 'Twitter Killer'. Well, Threads might have attracted 100 million sign-ups within five days of its release, but it's struggling to keep people engaged. And alternatives like BlueSky and Mastodon might look appealing, but they remain quiet compared to more established networks. What happens next is anyone's guess.
Why bother sticking around, I hear you say. Good question. To network and promote one's ventures. To stay relevant, keep up with the creative industry and be a part of the conversation. And to honour the very platforms that helped build projects like Creative Boom back when social media felt friendly and new.
Despite changing algorithms, privacy concerns, and the rise of AI, many of us stay, albeit adapting where we can.
Reassessing our relationship
Like many of you, I've been playing around with social media for a while now. In late 2021, I unfollowed everyone on Twitter to embrace lists instead, and that worked nicely for a while until I noticed engagement fell flat after Musk's takeover. I slowly began following people again and found decent reach for doing so. I even experimented with Linkedin, but that also proved fruitless.
My ongoing quest to ultimately balance privacy with all the trappings of social networking has failed. I want to have my cake and eat it. It's why I signed up for Twitter Blue, only to discover it was a kind of slight on one's reputation. More importantly, it gave no boost to my tweets. And now we have X, a recent move by Musk to really hit home that Twitter is truly over. It makes sense strategically. But it does feel like the end of an era. I'll probably hang around – if only to see where it goes.
Seeing where the crowd heads next
Right now, I think everyone's hedging their bets. We're all signing up for other platforms in case they take off. Securing our usernames and saying hello to 50 followers compared to 100k followers elsewhere, hoping this will be the social network to solve everything.
Who are we kidding? I mainly feel sorry for all those PR and marketing professionals struggling to figure out their new approach. Do they change the Twitter logo on all their clients' sites yet? Do they refer to it as 'X, formerly Twitter'? Or do they wait until Musk has had his trolling fun, only to discover it's Twitter again? And what about Threads? How do they tackle that? Ok, Channel 4 may have won that game, but will its strategy work for everyone? Probably not.
On the positive side, it's keeping a lot of people busy in a rocky economy.
But what about the rest of us? Can we really find time to share unique updates and posts on 10+ social networks? Is it worth the measly 'likes' and 'shares' for all the effort? Are we even getting referral traffic any more?
Have we reached 'peak social media'?
On Creative Boom's navigation, we now have nine social networks listed, from BlueSky and Linkedin to Threads and X. And that's not even including everything. We're doing what we can to be active on those networks and are biding our time to see what happens next.
From my conversations with other business owners, it's clear we're all taking a "wait and see" approach. After a very exhausting few years, many others have simply secured their usernames and gone off to enjoy the summer break. And who can blame them?
You could say this is the beginning of many people turning their backs on social media. Perhaps they're finding more value in real-life events for networking and self-promotion rather than being online. Only time will tell.
Build your own platforms
I've said it for a long time, ever since Instagram was launched in 2010, there is no point in relying on these external networks to build audiences because we don't own them. We're not in control. They can shift the goalposts at any time. And look what's happened.
It's why I started to work hard on our SEO and content strategy. I put effort into building organic web traffic and subscribers, so I would never rely solely on Meta or Twitter. Today, we attract over a million creatives through our online magazine and podcast alone, and our newsletter goes out every Tuesday to 42,000 people with an open rate of 43 per cent.
The advertisers we work with – Google, Microsoft, Adobe – aren't really sold by how many social media fans we have; they're more interested in our own niche community. And time and again, I hear from marketing managers that platforms with "too many followers" tend not to have the same appeal.
Focus on what you can control
So whilst we'll still be present on X and Threads, Facebook and Linkedin, we'll continue to focus on what's in our hands. For instance, we're investing in a brand evolution, a new website design, and a fresh newsletter. We're also improving our magazine and podcast, giving creatives more inspiration and motivation to enjoy each week. It's a lot of work, but we know we'll get great return.
No matter what happens to social media next, we'll be ending 2023 on a high: saying hello to a new Creative Boom and being ready for whatever the next 12 months bring us. And Musk and Zuckerberg can continue to do whatever they like.