I’ve been pretty critical of Twitter’s recent attempts to ‘manage the health of the conversations‘ on its platform. Too often, these efforts seem to set in place mechanisms that could automatically enhance or suppress content based on whether or not this content contains certain topics. It could lead to giving an artificial impression that some content is actually more popular than it is, or that other content isn’t gaining in popularity, when in fact it is being shared widely.
But I tend to agree with Twitter’s signaling that it will add more user controls into who can and cannot reply to a user’s tweets. In general, I think its better to let the individual user have more control over how it views and creates content, versus having more content consumption decisions made at the platform level where everyone is subject to the same guidelines.
The new settings will let users specify which group they want to be able to reply to their tweets, and they can select for each tweet. The four groups include:
Global – Any Twitter user can reply
Group – Any Twitter user you follow or mention in your tweet
Panel – Any Twitter user you mention in your tweet
Statement – No Twitter user can reply
Oddly, there’s not a planned setting to allow only Twitter users who follow you reply to your tweets. This seems like a no-brainer as it would be an easy way for Twitter users to gain followers; Want to talk to me? Gotta follow me first.
At any rate, since it appears these changes are coming, now is a good time to decide how you or your company might utilize these new settings to better connect with others. Each of these settings give you the ability to improve or restrict engagement, based on who can reply. I also think it gives you a chance to revisit your content strategy, at least for Twitter. Each setting gives you the chance to reach a different audience, and as such, gives you the opportunity to accomplish different things.
Global – Any Twitter user can reply. For most companies or individuals using Twitter, this will continued to be the preferred setting.
Group – Any Twitter user you follow or mention in your tweet can reply to you. This is where it begins to get interesting. For instance, let’s say you or your company sells training via a subscription model. You could follow all your members, and then change the settings so only those members can reply to your tweets. Or if you were a popular Twitch streamer or YouTuber, you could tell your subscribers that you will follow all subscribers back on Twitter, so if they want to be able to reply to your tweets, they need to subscribe to your content.
Panel – Any Twitter user you mention in your tweet can reply to that tweet. I could possibly see a use for this with Twitter chats, where the organizer questions the guest, that way you could follow the organizers tweets during the chat if you only want to hear what the guest has to say, and the larger hashtag for the chat if you want to interact with everyone else.
Statement – No Twitter user can reply to your tweets. I think this setting holds a lot of potential for experimenting with driving engagement OFF Twitter. Think about it, if you say something on Twitter and I want to reply, but can’t, then what are my options? I either forget about it and move on, or I find another way to reply to you, likely through email. When I reply via email, the interaction changes to ONE TO ONE. On Twitter, I can reply then others can chime in and it can quickly become a one to MANY interaction, which for a company can present a LOT of problems, especially in regards to customer complaints. Additionally, it can be much easier to convert a follower into a customer via an email interaction, so I think there’s a lot of potential for companies in regards to the Statement setting.
As I said earlier, now would be a good time to revisit your Twitter content strategy with an eye toward these coming changes. Start thinking now about how you could incorporate these changes into how you use Twitter, and to your advantage. Hopefully we will also get a Followers setting so only the people following us can reply to our tweets. That could be the most useful setting of all.