Last week, the top trending hashtag on Twitter worldwide was #RIPTwitter. Awkward.
As things seem to go from bad to worse for the social media platform, it got us thinking: What impact could the death of Twitter have on the podcasting community?
Let’s take a look at what exactly has been going down at Twitter HQ, what this could mean for your podcast, plus some thoughts on the subject from our team.
What’s Going On At Twitter?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you probably heard that billionaire mogul Elon Musk has bought Twitter for an eye-watering $44 billion.
Since the sale finally went through in October, there’s been a cascade of dramas that have led to the world (including the Twittersphere itself) declaring the death of the platform as we know it.
First, it was the mass layoffs. Within days of coming through the door, Musk sacked almost 50% of Twitter’s 7,500 staff. This included a number of senior staff and key engineers, many of whom were asked to come back just days later.
Then, Musk called a Zoom meeting and gave staff an ultimatum of committing to “long hours of high intensity” and a “extremely hardcore” work environment or to pack up their desk in exchange for three months’ severance. 75% chose to walk.
As a result of all the walk-outs, Twitter closed its San Francisco headquarters. An installation appeared projecting some pretty cutting musk-related insults across the HQ on Thursday night, calling him a ‘lawless oligarch’, ‘insecure colonizer’ and (my personal favourite) a ‘space Karen’.
So it’s fair to say that Musk’s Twitter takeover hasn’t been the success story he was hoping for. It’s been a real comedy of errors, and it’s still unfolding as we speak.
So as a podcaster, what impact could the demise of Twitter have on your show? Well, that all depends on how – and how much – you use Twitter to run your podcast.
How Podcasters Use Twitter
There are a few different ways podcasters currently use Twitter. For example, some of you might use the platform to promote your show, build your audience, and, maybe, for researching and networking with guests.
Twitter also just recently announced (pre-Musk, of course) that it was officially moving into the podcasting space by adding a ‘stations’ tab (which includes live and pre-recorded shows) to its Twitter Spaces feature.
Since then, the move seems to have gained little traction, and what we’ve seen of Twitter podcasts so far has been pretty underwhelming. Whatever big plans they might’ve had for turning Twitter into a podcast listening platform, it’s unlikely they’ll see the light of day given the current state of the company and the fact it’s haemorrhaging engineers.
Our Take on the Death of Twitter
If there’s one thing I’ve learned when following this story is that Twitter’s demise is a topic that seems to divide people (much like the platform is built to do), and we’ve all got something to say about it.
So, I caught up with a few members of the Podcast Host team to hear their two cents on how they think it might impact podcasters. Here’s what they told me:
Joe from the Content Team
“I don’t think the death of Twitter will affect podcast growth much. Twitter has made it clear they don’t show external links to as many people, so tweets that direct people to your podcast won’t get visibility. It’s not a good platform for gaining listeners.
However, it has been a strong networking tool for many podcasters to connect and share info. So this news could negatively impact how they find guests and other podcasters to collaborate with.
Podcasters will need to figure out: A) where other podcasters are hanging out, and B) where other people within their podcast’s niche are hanging out when they’re not on Twitter.“
Matthew from the Content Team
“Traditionally, twitter was a reasonable place to get low-friction feedback and engagement from your audience. It was also a quick and easy way to think that you were “promoting” your podcast. But I’ve seen little or no evidence that big Twitter numbers ever translated to big podcast download numbers.
Any pros twitter has (or had), are far outweighed by its cons, in my opinion.
I don’t know enough about Elon Musk to have an opinion on him either way. But I think less people using Twitter will be good for humanity as a whole. I doubt that’s his aim, but I hope he achieves it.
Podcasters would be better off participating in smaller communities built around a shared interest in their topic or passion. I really don’t get the need for the entire world to be on the same app or platform.
As a podcaster, you’re free to build your own place for your audience to gather and engage. A dedicated community on a platform like Discord won’t shower you with algorithmically-optimised tweets designed to push your emotional buttons and keep you on there, either. That’s better for everyone.
You’d also be surprised at how much more you can get done when you’re not picking up your phone every two minutes to rabidly seethe at the opinions of a complete stranger in another continent“.
Sean from the Growth team
If we look back at Elon’s career, navigating through the weeds of his high profile taboo moments such as smoking marijuana on Joe Rogan’s Podcast, you see a very successful businessman who is known for his tanacity to win. This goes right back to his affiliation with PayPal and his induction into the Paypal mafia. When he invests in something, he goes all in and has a clear vision of what the outcome will be, well into the future.
As much as people are concerned that he might be the demise of the company, I expect it will instead be a re-awaking for a company that failed to innovate. I expect musk to pivot the platform towards something like China’s Wechat, providing robust payment features and many other extras that will shift the way we use the app. He has a long history with crypto currency and these ties are a perfect combination to launch a modern, feature rich payment and social platform.
As for what this means for the Podcast industry, I expect it will support the community even better to allow them to streamline the way the generate money and share their content. I wouldn’t go as far to say that I’m an Elon believer but I think he’ll turn Twitter into a success yet.
Steph from the Content & Support Teams
“My biggest reflection so far is if the slowdown on podcasting Twitter will force us to think about how and why we’re on any of these platforms.
As someone who’s been an avid Twitter user for over a decade, but also has also been flirting with leaving all social media soon, it has fast-tracked this thought for me.
Twitter rarely helps indy podcasters grow an audience, so what have we been doing anyway?“
Colin, CEO and Founder
“Full transparency: I just don’t think social media has much marketing value for 99% of people. There are those 1 in 100 podcasters who have done the work, and have the right personality to grow a truly engaged following. But the other 99, in my (admittedly cynical) opinion, it’s just shouting into the void, and only seeing responses from a few ultra-engaged fans (if you’re lucky).
We’ve tried a fair few different approaches on social over the years, but have never found a way to make it worth the time.
I’m definitely a grouch on this. A dinosaur, perhaps. But we’ve been spending nearly all of our time on evergreen content for over a decade. On what we hope are great quality bits of content that serve us, and our audience, for years. It’s always been my opinion that, if I have a spare 20 minutes, it’s better to put that into a blog post, or a podcast episode, than social media. Mr Musk’s latest actions have done nothing to change that, and a lot to reinforce it.“
Allegra from the Support Team
“The hot mess that is Twitter has reminded me of the importance of owning my own online space.
I like email for connecting with my audience and intend to step up my efforts there. Of course, email is not a social platform but I repurpose my content on Pinterest much more than I do any of the social sites and that is magical for me.
I stopped using Facebook about 3 years ago and it had zero effect on my podcast growth. I will likely stop using Twitter but I do believe that will hurt my numbers until I start doing more through email and perhaps LinkedIn.
When I share my episodes on Twitter, I always get clicks back to my website and additional downloads/listens. And Twitter is the only platform that my guests seem to use to promote their guest episodes.“
Ananda from the Growth Team
“I don’t see Twitter as a powerful tool to promote and search podcasters, but it is a great tool for networking, and for promoting your work as a podcaster/specialist/speaker. It’s also a good way to find qualified guests. So from that perspective, the death of Twitter might have a negative impact for podcasters.
I also believe it’s important to build up your own online space. Social networks are pivoting, and this makes it even more important to build your content and community on your own land, instead of using a “rented” space like Twitter.“
Becca from the Growth Team
“Twitter doesn’t like it when you link to your podcast shows in posts to take traffic away from the platform. This makes it less useful as a tool for promoting your podcast as the algorithm won’t give your posts much visability.
I’ve also heard through the grapevine that a lot of people are bailing on social media as a whole, Twitter included. Eventually, using social to build your podcast will just become a wasted effort because the people you want to talk to won’t be on the platform – and you’ll need to find where they’ve moved to instead.”
What Can We Learn from All This?
If there’s one lesson we can take from the demise of Twitter is that it’s never a good idea to rely on one third-party app or site to build your podcast kingdom.
Apps and social media platforms come and go a lot more than we like to think (Remember MySpace? Anyone know what happened to SnapChat?). The great thing about podcasting, though, is that you can spread your show across so many platforms – in fact, the more, the merrier.
That way, if any of the platforms you use to run your podcast goes bust or gets bought over by Elon Musk, you’ve got backup.
And, remember, there are loads of other ways to market your show outside of social media, as we run through in our ultimate podcast promotion guide.