Post icon and verification badge with dollar sign in place of check mark.

Recent changes to Twitter have left us ticked off and checked out, but this isn’t another blue bird sob story. It’s the tale of one start-up recognising the value in another, and the realisation that social media isn’t dying, it’s evolving.

Our social strategy and early experience with Twitter

When I founded A Modern Remedy back in 2021, part of the long-term strategy was fostering an online community through various social channels. That meant choosing platforms that aligned with our values, namely those that were fair, open and treated their users with respect. Companies that had a track record of privacy violations or were facing pending regulation inquiries were also off the list. As were those that did not seem to be stable, sustainable or destined to last beyond this decade.

That left us with few options, however, Twitter certainly fit the bill. I’d checked in and out of Twitter over the years and was familiar with its reputation as the place where news would break first, along with it being a haven for writers and journalists of all descriptions. Along with LinkedIn and Substack, Twitter was where we first decided to cultivate a connected audience.

If your daily reps included shitposting and getting into fights with random people online, it might in fact be you, and not the platform, that is the problem.

Sure, there were detractors and those who espoused warnings of how “toxic” the platform was, but those musings appear to be more reflective of how those people used Twitter. If your daily reps included shitposting and getting into fights with random people online, it might in fact be you, and not the platform, that is the problem.

In fact, to date the overwhelming majority of interactions with people, businesses and organisations on Twitter has been positive. Along the way, AMR has connected with some amazing changemakers, led to partnerships, moments of joy and brought a wealth of knowledge and resources into our orbit. We now sit at on the verge of 2,500 followers and recently hit over 300,000 monthly impressions.

So, why am I writing this article?

Getting ticked off and checking out

Roughly one year into our Twitter timeline, something odd happened. The platform changed hands, and initially, that appeared to be all that was changing. But then a bunch of stuff happened. At this point it’s important to note that I approached this event with my critical thinking cap on, not yet ready to buy into the narrative that Twitter was to become a safe haven for extremists and fringe groups, where vitriol would become the new currency.

With each month that passed, we noticed more and more people talking about their metrics dropping, their reach dwindling.

Then some people were let go, then even more were axed. The platform’s advertisers began pulling their budgets. Some companies left, others were slapped with odd labels, and much more oddness continued to occur. Things looked shaky, but we were determined to persevere, believing that this was just teething problems as the company wrestled with forming a new identity – one that we hoped would still be balanced, fair and inclusive.

With each month that passed, we noticed more and more people talking about their metrics dropping, their reach dwindling, both among our connections and reported in the media. The much coveted and illusive account verification, something we aspired to attain, was put on ice. In its place was a proposed ‘pay for verification system‘ which left a sour taste with the community. Account impersonation ran wild, causing real world harm. Just what the hell was going on with our favourite platform and where were things heading?

With all the chaos that was brewing, it was clear that our social strategy needed an update, with a healthy dose of diversification now overdue. And the social landscape had actually changed quite a lot by the end of that first year. Mastodon was rearing its head as a possible Twitter alternative, one that promised decentralised servers that would put the community in control of its content. Post was a newcomer with a beautiful (and familiar UI) that seemed promising and TikTok was wrapped up in a never-ending stream of scandals. At the same time, we decided to bring our newsletter in house, as Substack no longer fit within our broader strategy. The platform was more focused on owning the end-to-end experience than integrating with our website, causing friction for our audience.

So, we backed away from TikTok, shuttered our Substack and rolled the dice on both Mastodon and Post. But more on that in a moment. It’s time to talk about the morning that changed everything.

Pay, or else

It was never our intention to pay for Twitter verification, in fact, we had been running advertisements and promoting the occasional article, so one could argue that we were already putting money into the company. At the beginning of the year, we reached a critical mass of users, having seen our community grow each month, and decided to pull back on our ad-spend. The thinking was that we should invest in our own services to provide a better experience and more value for the audience that was showing up, instead of trying to expand our reach (for now).

Then two weeks ago, an admin alert changed everything. We received an email from Twitter saying that unless we paid for verification, we would be blocked from utilising the Twitter ad platform entirely. As a small business, we felt completely blindsided by this move. It wasn’t a case of money, but rather, the lack of fore-warning, and total blackout from core business services should we decide not to pay.

It suddenly became clear what was happening. Elon Musk, Twitter’s biggest user and now head honcho, is super sensitive to the amount of fake accounts, bots and other grifters on the platform. They are strategically swarming all over his posts, piling on his comments and reposting with fury. Crypto bros, hackers, scammers and attention seekers flood his timeline, so he feels compelled to do something about it. The media thought that removing legacy verification was both a silly move and a ploy to recoup some of the lost billions Musk sunk into this ill-fated purchase of Twitter, but I fear the truth is much worse.

Twitter is set to become a pay-to-play platform. If you don’t, you’ll be left with a read-only account.

My prediction is that Twitter is set to become a pay-to-play platform in the not-too-distant future. Think about it. Paid verification will help protect against some bots and scammers, but it won’t thwart anyone with $8 USD who is motivated enough to keep gaming the system, especially if they are already making money from their hustle.

Once management realises that this move has done little to fix the issue, it won’t be long before they double down and you will be required to pay to post. And if you don’t, you’ll be left with a read-only account. After all, many have trumpeted that a fraction of all active Twitter users produce a majority of all content on the platform, so who will this really impact? News and media outlets will pay the small amount for the privilege to post, presuming that it stays $8 for business users. But once that happens, then what? Will people (and businesses) stay? On one hand this will surely block out the spammers and scammers who haven’t been paying attention, but without a more robust verification system, not much will change. And by then, what will be left of Twitter and its rapidly evolving community?

Post is popping off

Though we’ve big fans of the platform, our investment in Mastodon hasn’t gone to plan. Often, we feel like we are shouting into the void, with each post having little traction and organic discoverability difficult to achieve. Plus, the decentralised server-system is great for control but appears too confusing for most of our audience to navigate, along with the inconsistent UI and lack of mainstream appeal.

On the other hand, Post has been an utter delight to use. The service presents an intuitive and easy to use interface that is reminiscent of other platforms, with all the familiar aspects of liking, sharing and commenting.

The community is welcoming and supportive, and it truly feels like a different place when compared to Twitter, though it could easily pass for that platform, since it features many big-name publishers like Fortune, Wired, USA Today and others. Topics, both trending and otherwise, are easily discoverable and the whole experience has made me hopeful that this platform has a real chance to contend with the dominance of the established players in the social space.

Post is what would happen if Twitter, Substack and Instagram had a baby, and left out all the bad traits.

Did we mention that Post has actually generated revenue for us? Yes, you heard that right – we have made money from our posts on Post. See, the service allows its users to both set paywalls for individual articles and enables others to tip you if they find your content valuable. Both are completely optional, though it’s nice to be paid for our output, rather than be asked to pay for the privilege to post. Noam Bardin, founder of Post, recently mentioned that the company saw value in offering users the ability to sample a publisher’s content without the need to instantly commit to a subscription. Plus, upon signup each user receives 50 points to spend on articles or tip fellow users, helping to drive engagement and the production of quality content across the platform.

Musk recently announced that Twitter would also be following suit by allowing publishers to charge access to articles posted on the platform. Whilst specifics weren’t detailed, it will be interesting to see how this will be implemented, considering the fact that there have been other much requested features that have similarly been announced but never materialised. Instead, the company has preferred to disengage from other, competing platforms, banning embeds and mentions of Substack and earlier Mastodon and Facebook. It left Twitter looking hostile, hurt and struggling to navigate a changing social media landscape that was rapidly evolving, as it watched from a self-imposed exile. We prefer platforms that play together, as that’s a win-win for consumers and creators, ensuring the best content can show up wherever you and your audience reside.

Post is a platform that pays publishers, is populated with informative content and feels like it is about to reach escape velocity at any moment. The big focus on news is balanced out with a healthy amount of creatives and writers on the platform, along with a surprising amount of photography-related content. In my experience, Post is what would happen if Twitter, Substack and Instagram had a baby, and left out all the bad traits.

As for verification, it’s currently free on Post. The process was easy and straightforward, with AMR needing only to verify our identity via secure email before we were awarded our blue checkmark. No hassle, no fee, no dramas. And no threat of losing access to functionality should we refuse to apply.

Numbers don’t lie, and neither does history

So far this year our website traffic has grown by 100-150% on average each month, our posting cadence has increased, yet our Twitter impressions have dropped by 75%. For example, last week a post on Twitter garnered less than 200 views, this despite having nearly 2,500 followers. Yet, over on Post, the same content yielded 20 likes, multiple comments and several new followers… this with less than 100 followers! At the end of the day, it’s not all about numbers, but something has clearly changed over on Twitter. We plan on sticking around on the blue bird, though we’ll no longer be treating Post as an also-ran, instead it will become a core part of our content strategy moving forward.

There’s an excitement that comes with being part of a something early on, seeing it grow and develop. We’ve watched in real time as Post has grown and evolved, adding features and becoming more polished with each update. The company is transparent with where the platform is heading and regularly posts updates to the community, whilst maintaining an open channel for feature requests to improve the service. Our interactions with support staff have been nothing short of timely and of a high standard, especially impressive considering the fact they are managing the growing pains of a new social platform.

Above all else, the discourse on Post is civil, supportive and engaging, with each interaction leaving you with a good feeling… a refreshing outcome when tales of social media’s demise and toxicity are fast and frequent.

Platforms and technologies will come and go, but those that value their users and healthy discourse stand the greatest chance of sticking around. For the first time in a long while there is genuine buzz in the social space, with new players forcing a paradigm shift that we get to live as it happens. Rather than be downtrodden by the sad state of certain companies, I choose to see the opportunity in this moment. Here’s to the next evolution of social media, and all the exciting tales yet to be told in this grand story.

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