Last week Twitter rolled out a new feature that’s as much good news for the everyday user as it is potentially bad news for brand publishers: The new Mute button will allow people to essentially hide updates from an account that they feel over-publishes or has otherwise become an annoyance more than a source of new, interesting and engaging material. This may be that person you met at the airport last week and who you now know is a fan of the most extreme theories on every topic. Or, more troubling for brand publishers, a brand account that someone has now lost interest in.
What’s problematic for brand publishers are a couple of things:
First off, some metrics will stay the same while others could change drastically. The number of people Following an account will, presumably, remain the same but the number of people who are actually seeing those updates will be much less, thus making that Followers metric even dicier than it was before.
Followers have always been a weak number since it never truly represented the number of people who see published updates. Reach has been slightly better, but even it isn’t perfect. That’s why it’s been so necessary for so long that Twitter start providing better native metrics that better show the number of users for whom a particular Tweet was actually loaded or something similar.
Second, there does not appear to be a way to see who’s muted an account’s updates or how many have done so. There’s an opportunity here for a metric that, while it may not be the most positive, is still an important number to learn from. After all, these are people who have signaled, in a round-about way, that an account is still important to them even if they don’t want to receive their updates.
Along with that, there’s no way to contact these people outside of a DM, which may not be welcome considering they’ve muted the account now trying to DM them. So there’s no way to ask them what the reason behind the Mute was or make an appeal for them to come back. That means not only is a lot of interesting feedback being left on the table, but that person may not ever think to unmute an account unless they see it in someone else’s update.
With all that in mind, this is a good time for brand publishers to take another look at their Twitter publishing strategy and make sure it’s working, not just for themselves but for the audience as well. This is a question publishers should be asking regularly, but given how the audience now has a whole new way of signaling their discontent with content volume, tone, topic or other factors.