The increasingly hierarchical character of academic social media in 2023

I remember when it was possible to fill an event by just tweeting about it a few times from a highly visible account. It made organising events so easy and so much more fun as a result. Whereas now you need to share across countless social platforms and mailing lists. This is what happens when audiences fragment across multiple platforms. More labour involved in publicising and more noise across those platforms due to cross posting. Social media has declining returns for instrumental use unless you’re using paid advertising.

This is dilemma for organisations which rely on digital comms for self-promotion. High profile journals, learned societies and centres who have paid comms officers will still be effective (albeit less so). But digital comms based on gift labour will struggle to achieve a voice. It was always a technosolutionist overstatement to say that social media made higher education more democratic. But it did blunt the effect of legacy hierarchies in a number of ways. The emerging attention economy in 2023 looks like it will take us back to the hierarchical norm.

At what point do we all say ‘fuck it’ and just go back to using mailing lists? 🤦‍♂️

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