There's something that's been happening in the world of social media algorithms in recent months. Across Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn (and perhaps other social platforms I'm less attuned with), algorithms seem to be favouring growth and "finding new people", at the expense of "connecting with the ones you already know". Since the start of the year, I've seen many on Twitter perplexed as to why their tweets are getting the engagement and replies they used to get, or why they aren't otherwise seeing more tweets from folks they follow, rather than suggested tweets from other accounts. Equally, on LinkedIn, I've noticed that I don't always see posts as they are shared. It might be after a week, or two, or four, that a post by someone I’m connected with gets suggested to me on my LinkedIn timeline. For a short time on my travels last year I was back on Instagram and, though my own account was private, those with public accounts seemed to talk about how the good old days of organic reach on Instagram were behind them. ‘Organic reach’ being natural, organic ways of your posts reaching more people through your existing connections liking and commenting. (If you’re an Instagram user, I hear that using the desktop version rather than the smartphone app is one way to see a more curated feed of posts from people you follow). I think it's fair to say we're at some sort of inflection point when it comes to social media and the various platforms. And so there are a couple of things to ponder at the moment:
Do you try to be everywhere, or double-down on just one or two social platforms?
The age-old question of narrow down, go wide, or do both. Perhaps, now’s the time to double-down on your own platform…
"Social media feels so scripted and transactional lately…" someone in a forum I'm a part of shared recently. It's easy to forget that twitter started out as a microblogging platform. In other words, a place for us to write and share mini-posts in a communal environment. There are plans for twitter to increase its character count to 4,000, and focus more on the growth of its platform rather than on users owning their own little space, like they could using Twitter-owned Revue, which it has decided to shut down recently. This could be the time to get back to the days of the early era of the internet (aka Web 1.0), and just show up and write on our own spaces - blogs. If you're looking for something in-between, forums (eg. Discourse) or discussion-based blogging platforms (eg. Substack) present an opportunity to write and connect in slower and longer-form ways.
Whichever way we go, how we show up on these platforms is up to us. It's easy to get sucked into focusing on reach and likes above all else, but we can focus on meaningful interaction and connection with others by choosing to.
Whether it's the use of Twitter Lists or a third-party app to help you cut through the noise, there are solutions out there to help you use Twitter for finding and meeting like minded folks and having real, meaningful interactions. And the same goes for the other social platforms you choose to show up on, or not to show up on.
Perhaps the most important takeaway is that these choices are ours.
// 11th January, 2023