A Quickie Guide to "Twitter Alternatives" for Social Media Managers
The erratic situation at Twitter these days has a lot of Social Media Managers wondering what the next move might be if we lose this valuable network that we've grown to know and love/hate. Twitter is one of the OG social networks (2006).
Brands are now looking at alternatives to Twitter as potential options, but the hard truth is that there is no real replacement for the functionality that Twitter offers. There are some new options popping up, as well as older networks seeing new light - but these platforms are not for everyone. Here is a quick breakdown of some "Twitter Alternatives" that are floating around right now:
Functionality: Capable of plain text, images, video, groups, company pages, and the king of paid advertising.
Reputation: This platform is just as volatile as Twitter these days. There is a lot of chatter about investors being unhappy with the billions of dollars being spent on the less than successful "Meta" project. The platform also has lost a lot of important demographics in their user set - daily [human] users tend to be Boomers and Gen X.
Bottom Line: Less than ideal; but if your marketing strategy depends on paid social media advertising, you'll get more for your money on Facebook than competing platforms like LinkedIn.
Functionality: At its core, Tumblr is intended to be a blogging platform, but it does support short-format content, such as posting a single image or video. Every post can have comment threads which are similar to Twitter.
Reputation: When this was at it's peak, there was a considerable amount of adult content being shared, including illegal terrible things. Tumblr made sweeping changes to their TOS and now adult content is not permitted on the platform. However, the stigma still remains and most people still associate the platform with adult content anyway.
Bottom Line: Not horrible, since there is a lot of similar functionality to Twitter here... as long as you're okay with people potentially associating your content with adult topics. For some brands that's a good thing, right?
Functionality: This platform allows content creators to stream live video for free, alongside a live chat room where the streamer can interact with users. There is strong opportunity for brands to reach younger audiences via paid video ads (similar to YouTube), as well as influencer collaborations. This platform is not like Twitter in any way.
Reputation: Twitch is a great way to reach younger audiences, especially if your brand, service, or content is entertainment/gaming industry adjacent.
Bottom Line: Lots of potential if your target market lives here. However, live video is a demanding content stream and it takes times and commitment to build an audience. You'll need lots of content, ads, or strong partnerships.
Functionality: This is not a social media platform! You join a Discord server by invitation, and you gain access to a server's chatrooms and voice chat rooms. Chat rooms can be customized, moderators can be assigned, and chat rules can be enabled to help keep users safe.
Reputation: Discord is often used as a communication tool by content creators and organizations alike. It's a fun way to chat with people in real time, and during the pandemic lockdown many teachers used Discord as an online classroom because it was free and easy to use.
Bottom Line: Great chat platform, but there's no paid advertising. If your brand relies on paid advertising, you'll need to explore other options.
Functionality: Similar to Discord, you have to join a server to gain access to this platform. Some servers are open to everyone, and once you have joined a server you can interact with people via #hashtags within the platform, even if you are from different servers. Hashtags are the life force of Mastodon.
Reputation: Many people are calling this platform the "new Twitter" but it's really not the same thing. Most people don't understand how to use Mastodon and are joining the platform expecting it to operate like Twitter, only to find themselves confused/frustrated. Plus the kicker - Mastodon is completely ad-free, and pride themselves on this fact.
Bottom Line: Too new - don't recommend. There is no telling what the future will bring, and while I'm happy to join the platform and be a test dummy, I certainly wouldn't suggest that large brands do the same without a solid strategy.
Functionality: An established social platform in its own right, Reddit has been around for a long time and has largely stayed the same since it's inception. Users follow various topic threads (called Subreddits) and are able to create plain text posts, as well as images/video, and support comment threads similar to Twitter. Blatant self-promotion is generally discouraged, and offending users can be penalized by having their post 'down-voted' by the community. Conversely, popular posts can be 'up-voted' by users.
Reputation: Reddit has been trusted by the internet as a popular forum for almost two decades. There are various advertising opportunities available.
Bottom Line: Top Contender. This platform is tried and true and has options for just about every type of digital marketer. The tricky part is promoting your brand to the right Subreddits and following the community rules. Redditors are defensive of their platform and are quick to turn on those who don't follow the guidelines (which are extensive).
Functionality: Image focused platform intended for users to share photos (and memes) and videos with their friends via posts, Stories, Reels, and whatever else they come out with to copy their competitors. Every post must include some kind of visual content.
Reputation: Instagram is an extension of Facebook, which means it has to deal with any stigma that may be attached to their parent company... which isn't great for them. But it is great for digital marketers, since you can use the same paid advertising platform to set up campaigns on both Facebook and Instagram.
Bottom Line: Top Contender. Yes, not everyone has daily visual content to post. I have a fast and dirty solution for you: Post your plain text post that you'd normally share on Twitter as an Instagram Story. You can choose a solid color background, type your post into a text box, and post that to your Stories. Followers will see that you have a new Story and can respond directly to you.
There is no clear replacement for Twitter, but there's plenty of opportunity for marketers to start testing things out with personal accounts. Dipping your toes into a new, unfamiliar platform can help to broaden your horizons. Plus it's fun to try something new! Which platforms are you exploring right now?