Saying goodbye to Twitter

Only 0.2% of Twitter users are paying for a subscription while advertising revenue has collapsed. Musk is going to push hard to get non-subscribers to pay by effectively throttling the visibility of their tweets. This platform is a lost cause for academics. Social platforms have become integral to the research infrastructure in a way analogous to conferences, workshops and seminars. Universities and funders need to take responsibility for the upcoming transition rather than outsourcing it to private firms. If you’re committed to using Twitter for external engagement then only option will be to pay the tribute and accept you will be doing ever more work to reach a shrinking audience. It could still operate as useful information conduit until the (imo likely) death of the platform. Research networks, publications and union branches should also accept paying the subscription if they intend to keep using the platform. If you adapt your strategy it could still function well (for now) alongside email marketing and expanding into other platforms like LinkedIn.

Unless you have a pressing institutional reason to remain committed to this platform then it’s time to let go. You might be quietly attached to your follower count but its real value is deteriorating in real time. Paying a monthly fee will slow that but it won’t reverse it 👋

Once I’ve finished teaching for the summer I’ll be doing some serious analysis of Mastodon, Post, T2, Artefact, LinkedIn, Discord and Substack as potential academic Twitter alternatives. To my surprise I suspect LinkedIn is the most likely replacement for core academic uses. But I’m almost certain there won’t be a direct replacement. The pooling of academic attention on this platform will come to seem like a curious feature of the 2010s as higher education first acclimatised itself to social media. We’re entering a fragmented multiplatform landscape. I suspect academic blogs (or at least institutionally secure ones w/ funding) will seem like most secure part of this multiplatform landscape. Creeping sense of blogs as vaguely passé risks preventing us from building more resilient research comms infrastructure. Rebrand needed?

It will be an interesting few years for the research comms infrastructure:

  • Transformation of journal system
  • Financial crisis for learned societies
  • Mainstreaming of generative AI in scholarship
  • Transition from academic Twitter to multiplatform landscape

The unsettlingly large percentage of academics who seem to imagine the research comms infrastructure as an inevitable feature of scholarship rather than an infrastructural achievement will make this much more chaotic than it needs to be. Final thought: this will massively complicate how visibility is distributed within academia at precisely the point we are moving from a filter-then-publish to a publish-then-filter model in the journal system. This is a really interesting time to study scholarly comms.

Ps if you are an established academic advising doctoral researchers on scholarly practice PLEASE don’t advise them to join twitter if they are not on here already. It is terrible advice. Suggest they setup a personal website and start guest blogging instead.

This is what I’ve been trying to say about social media in higher education 👇

It serves a comparable function to conferences, workshops and seminars. The fact it’s far upstream of identifiable outputs means its structural role is often overlooked.

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