The surprising staying power of Twitter/X

This week I was doing a virtual training for a large brand and one of the attendees dropped this in the chat:

“Twitter (I refuse to call it X) is still a surprisingly good way to keep track of our media targets and who they are following.”

As surprised as my 2023 self would be, I agree.

I’ve already written about Twitter/X’s erratic owner. I believe I can use the platform he owns without endorsing all his beliefs or actions. You might feel differently, and that’s okay.

And I’m not an expert on using social media for mass audiences. I’m focusing on using social media as a 1:1 channel to understand and engage with journalists individually.

And Twitter/X is still a good platform for engaging many – but not all – journalists.

Muck Rack’s State of Journalism 2024 survey revealed:

  • Twitter/X is the most valuable social media for 36% of respondents, highest in the survey.
  • In 2023 half of respondents considered leaving the platform; in the 2024 report, only 19 percent said they deleted, suspended or stopped using their Twitter/X account.

These numbers don’t describe a dominant platform for all PR pros, but they also don’t suggest a journalism desert to ignore. Here’s a simple test: If a journalist or influencer on your media list is active on Twitter/X, use the platform to keep up with them. If not, then don’t.

The topics that I follow closely – PR and journalism, tech in general, AI in particular, and college sports – still have healthy contingents of journalists actively posting on Twitter/X. I bet there are other topics/beats where most of the journalists have moved elsewhere (hit me back if that’s the case for you).

A reminder: This fragmentation of media is a GOOD thing for PR pros. If your competitors still think “all the journalists fled Twitter when Elon bought it,” there will be fewer people competing with you for your targets’ attention. The more complex communications platforms become, the more reliant employers become on full-time experts to manage them.

If you’re going to take a second look at Twitter/X, here are two PR accounts I’ve recently found to be interesting follows. Bear in mind they write more to tech execs, their future clients, than to PR pros.

  • Carly Martinetti, who advocates for good old-fashioned media relations and uses sometimes pointed commentary to distinguish her skills and her agency from her competition.
  • Lulu Cheng Meservey, previous author of “Flack” on Substack, now focuses on her X account, often criticizing traditional PR in favor of what she calls “going direct.” Some posts can be controversial, and I don’t endorse everything she writes, but she definitely makes me think. A great example is her pinned manifesto that traditional PR is dead. Remember that she’s not writing it to you – she’s writing specifically to tech founders. It’s possible to totally disagree with lots of her arguments and yet still marvel at how well she messaged this piece to her target audience.

Hit me back if you’ve found Twitter/X to still be useful in your media relations work, or if you’ve tried it this year and found the opposite.

This article was originally published on June 20, 2024

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