Twitter Says Goodbye to Social Proof
Twitter made their announcement about the upcoming change on its blog weeks ago, and implemented the change over the weekend:
“THE CHOICES ARE TO DEPRECATE THE FEATURE, OR REBUILD IT ON A MORE MODERN TECH STACK. REBUILDING HAS ITS OWN COSTS, AND WOULD DELAY OUR WORK ON OTHER, MORE IMPACTFUL OFFERINGS FOR OUR DEVELOPER COMMUNITY.”
Twitter’s old share button was far from perfect, but it at least reported the number of tweets that contained your specified URL. However, it didn’t include the number of retweets, replies, or favorites; nor did it allow the data to be viewed in context by reporting the social reach of the people tweeting.
To get that kind of data, you’ll need to engage Twitter’s commercial data subsidiary, Gnip. However, with Gnip’s starting price of $3600/year, it’s not an affordable solution for most small businesses and many commercial blogs simply don’t have that kind of revenue, most bloggers—writing for fun in their spare time—do not have any revenue at all. Even if businesses and bloggers had the budget to afford Gnip, why would they pay so much for a single piece of data that most providers supply for free?
Counting ‘social shares’ can have a positive, or a negative impact. When sites display a share button that (incorrectly) implies zero shares on Twitter, it won’t be long before site owners start removing the button. In fact, thousands of websites have already removed Twitter’s share button. (AVA has kept the Twitter share button on our website for now)
Twitter’s boneheaded move actually benefits networks like Google+ and LinkedIn: used for similar content to Twitter, they retain their share counts free of charge. Furthermore, networks like Medium, who supply their own social statistics together with sophisticated social proof analytics, are looking increasingly attractive to small businesses and the casual content producer.
There have been a lot of changes at Twitter recently. All of these changes tell the story of a company that is steering away from its users’ goals, and slowly but surely pushing businesses to purchase products in order to be seen on the platform. To be fair, Twitter is a business, and it has to desperately monetize its platform before investors revolt and their stock price collapses, but pushing their content producers towards other platforms is unlikely to improve its finances and leaves a bad taste in their mouths.
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