There’s been concerns raised about Twitter’s new ‘mute’ function – specifically, how muting could impact the reach of brand profiles. With Facebook’s reach reductions still fresh in marketers’ minds, many are worried that they could be targeted by muting, which would then reduce their Twitter reach, and thus, the platform’s effectiveness as a communications tool. There are a few things worth noting on this, clarifications on how muting works and what its potential impacts could be.
1. Muting someone will stop all their tweets and re-tweets from appearing in your timeline from that point forward. Any previous tweets and RTs will still remain in your feed. The preservation of historical tweets in timelines won’t mean much for brand profiles, but worth noting the specific functionality of the mute feature.
2. @ replies and @ mentions from users you’ve muted will still appear in your twitter notifications. So if I’ve muted my friend John and he includes my Twitter handle in a tweet, I’ll still see it. This is an interesting point to note and may help brands, particularly when considering influencer outreach efforts.
3. If your content is popular, it’s likely that it’ll still reach anyone who’s muted you, either way. For example, if I’d been muted by John but I sent out a tweet that was highly re-tweeted, or I posted a blog that was highly shared, it’s likely that John would be following other people who also follow me – if one of them shares my tweet or content, John will still see it, as it will come from them, not me. Muting removes anything I tweet or re-tweet, but it won’t block tweets including my @ name, if mentioned in another person’s tweet.
4. Once you’re following a certain amount of people, you’re most probably using lists anyway. With so many tweets being sent out every minute, it’s virtually impossible for people following more than 200 or so people to see every single tweet, every day. At some stage, your feed becomes too much and the only way to manage it is to use lists to ensure you see the info most important to you – which effectively cuts out those you aren’t interested in (and would be likely to mute). The average number of Twitter followers per user is 208, with the majority following more people than who follow them, and given that 24.5% of all Twitter profiles aren’t following anyone at all, that number is actually significantly higher amongst active users. With that amount of noise, there’s no way brand messages are reaching every person as it is. Of course, muting won’t help, but the impact is likely to be less than some might initially think.
The concerns about muting and Twitter reach, at this stage, are unfounded, as we don’t have any data on what the impacts could be, but I wouldn’t expect the change to significantly reduce reach. It’s a much different scenario to the Facebook News Feed changes, requiring a lot more work on the user end to actively select and restrict specific profiles. And as with all platforms, if you create shareable content, it’s going to reach the widest possible audience, either way.