Twitter is rolling out a new feature that will allow users to edit select individuals out of their timelines – without formally unfollowing them. While Mute will be a useful and welcome update for most individual users, marketers will want to be cognizant of how it could impact their brands’ reach on the platform.
The goal of the update is to give users more control over their feeds by removing all tweets and re-tweets from muted users. Just as users can opt to receive SMS text updates or push notifications based on another user’s activity, the Mute button will help people edit out the user activity that they do not wish to see at the moment.
Previously only available via certain Twitter apps, Mute will soon be offered to all users on iPhone, Android and Twitter.com.
Here’s the full skinny on Mute:
- Muting a user removes all their interactions from your timeline; once you’ve muted a user, you will also no longer receive push or SMS notifications from that user
- Muting a user does not automatically unfollow the user
- Muted users can still engage with your content; you just won’t see that activity in your timeline (their engagements with your content will still be counted though, e.g. number of re-tweets)
- Muted users can still send direct messages (DMs)
- Promoted content cannot be muted – if a user mutes a brand, the promoted content will still be shown (but non-promoted tweets will not)
How will this affect brands on the platform?
As mentioned above, there are no specific changes to promoted content; however, Mute makes it easier for users to easily opt out of updates without going through the trouble of unfollowing. If anything, Mute underscores existing publishing best practices of knowing your audience and knowing which types of content they want (and at what frequency). For example, overzealous brands could see a decrease in engagement and reach should they push followers to use the Mute button.
More specifically, there are several Twitter marketing tactics that could also be impacted by this update, including:
Twitter Chats: Brands and bloggers use Twitter chats to engage with particular audiences, introduce products and launch giveaways, but with this new feature, users will have an easier time opting out of the conversation. Marketers should ensure that Twitter chats are now focused on inspiring/facilitating participation from followers, without the brand and/or bloggers dominating the conversation. Limited brand communications will be essential to maintain the intended reach of the chat.
Live-Tweeting TV & Sports: TV fans can rejoice at the new spoiler free zone – and sports fans will no longer have to worry about real-time results ruining their DVR-ed programming. Moreover, people not interested in red carpet coverage, press junkets and the like can now hide content from others who are discussing these topics. Mute will help quell complaints and negative sentiment during events and premieres, and perhaps decrease the relatively high unfollow rate that some brands see during big events.
It would be interesting to see if Twitter expands their mute functionality beyond just individual handles to allow users to mute hashtags or complete conversations, i.e. #FashionWeek or #SXSW.
Over-promoters: While Mute doesn’t change how promoted products work, brands should be wary about how much media-supported content they are pushing out, and to whom. As users become comfortable with Mute, “spammy” content will likely be the first to go.
Brands will have to become smarter about whom they are targeting paid content to, and at the same time, be more authentic with the content they serve. Since users are now armed with the mute feature, brands could easily move into the block territory if over-promotional content is shown to the wrong people.
Twitter is rolling Mute out to all users in the coming weeks. We anticipate that the new feature will inspire a behavioral shift from brands and individuals alike, as people become more thoughtful about the content they push out to their followers.
While Mute leaves some key questions unanswered, such as how it will impact impressions and reach, the update will be net-positive for the platform as it will likely promote the sharing of higher-quality content and create a more curated feed.
Cover photo via The Source