The "view" count reveals a different story than Elon intended
I was an avid user of Twitter, and grew my followers to a sizeable 7,200+. I, too, thought I’d be one one of the last to leave. But here I am. I’ve gradually decreased my usage to the point I don’t check the app anymore. I removed it from my Home Screen and turned off notifications. I did this because I’m angry at the changes and the new leadership. I don’t want to give it my time and attention. I’m finding Mastodon to be good, especially now that many new clients exist. I only have a small community on there but I’m getting some meaningful engagement. I’m still thinking about whether I want to make special announcements on Twitter or not. I’d like to continue avoiding it, but I’m not sure if I’m missing out on anything.
For years, I was a heavy Twitter user, checking my feed multiple times an hour (sometimes multiple times a minute). When Musk first took over the site last year, I was in denial and stuck around, but gradually his behavior—especially attacks on roughly half the site's users, as well as the banning of journalists and unbanning of Nazis—got to the point that I couldn't use the platform anymore in good conscience. At the same time, I noticed I was seeing less of the people I followed in my feed and more suggested content that wasn't relevant to me. I haltingly stopped using the site until finally I quit altogether. I'm on Mastodon now and checking Instagram a lot more than I did, but I don't use either site as much as I used to use Twitter.
You missed a reason--twitter's algorithm doesn't like Links. Maybe it would work better if you posted an image that's a screenshot from the article and added the link in the text of the tweet containing the image
But yeah it's generally true that total followers vs. engagement are very different. Twitter's biggest product problem is that people churn out of using it so a lot of followers may just not be around anymore
Dave, there could be another explanation for the seeming "hollowness" of your follower count: you gained a lot of grazers rather than loyalists from the Bret dust-up. Low-engagement followers, in other words, who glommed onto your account because you were briefly a high-profile poster, but not people who followed because they really care deeply about the same things you care deeply and post often about. Why would someone who thought Bret was a dork be that interested in ChatGPT? Conversely, the people who subscribe to your Substack are making more of a deliberate decision to zero in on what you cover. I keep gaining Substack subscribers (and yes, at a steady clip, suggesting Substack is growing) while treading water or losing Twitter followers, and my Substack open rate remains astonishingly good, something like 45%. So it's about the quality of the match between subscriber and author, methinks.
Twitter has always deprioritised external links (because they don't want you leaving twitter).
With a big enough audience you can overcome that, but generally speaking, look at any writer and they'll have 30 likes on the average tweet and 2 on a link to their work (it's actually really heartbreaking because people sometimes end up thinking no one is interested in the work that's important to them)
For me, getting people to look at my work via twitter is a complicated pipeline of "write good tweet > they go to my bio > they sign up to my newsletter > they see the next issue"
Linking directly to my newsletter has never worked well; people with big followings linking to my newsletter has never worked well. I don't even bother asking people to share it on social media anymore because the algos hate it.
That's a huge reason why people do those long threads with a link to their newsletter or whatever at the end - the algorithm actually shows them to people
(I wrote this out extra long in case the info helps any artists using twitter for self-promo)
Isn't it a bit hard to tell if this shows anything new? There isn't any comparison from prior to Elon's takeover and back when I did digital in Congress, all the digital folks believed that sharing a link on a post was a good way to lower reach significantly. The theory being that social media sites don't generally like people clicking on things that remove them from their hellscapes.
I've almost completely given up twitter (and completely given up posting there) but I go there almost daily to browse @fesshole and its associated account @anon_opin. If you check them out you'll see why: both are anonymous confessional-type accounts that regularly cause me to make "shocked Pikachu" face and/or laugh out loud at my desk. I still maintain that the greatest thing about twitter dot com melting down is that more and more people—especially members of the Fourth Estate—are seeing that Mushmelon's achievements are either entirely smoke and mirrors or the theft of others' work.
I never paid much attention to Twitter as a way to attract readers (maybe I should have). My niche was (originally) too small, did not have a good hashtag. In my case LinkedIn was effective to get me to about 2.5k followers there. But these (as turned out recently) have quite a high rate of actually reading what is put out. And articles I write I also mention in several LinkedIn Groups specifically, which also tends to generate traffic as these groups have a high concentration of people potentially interested in the first place. Since Elon's toxic takeover I'be been staying away from Twitter even more. Mastodon is a much nicer environment, but I'm much too busy to hang out there a lot.
I do believe points 1 and 2 are correct. The view count is right. I have way too many things to follow on twitter and like 1 follower. But I mute people like crazy often for a group tweets I did not like or see pointless. It just is taking too much to keep track of the feed on twitter.
I am finding that the rare times I go to Twitter now, 1) my feed has relatively little from the people I used to see, and lots of racist clowns, 2) my few tweets are getting virtually no interaction now, and 3) when I used to report flagrant violations about white supremacists and nazis, they used to get taken down without question & banned after very few reports. Now, some egregious violations (like discussing the positives of killing members of other races & religions with photos of Hitler attached) are ok, or so I'm told when the report comes back, and it has become impossible to ban these people- only journalists & people who insult Elon get banned now. As you say, it's becoming a ghost town, largely full now of rats & cockroaches feeding off what is left of the remains. Once the last normal people leave, they will find it as boring as their other far-right echo chambers though, and that's when it will fully collapse. It's definitely in the final stages of circling the drain though. By the way, I found this on Mastodon, and I am about to fully pull the plug on Twitter. It's jumped the shark fully for me at this point.
I found this post through Mastodon and now I'm subscribed to your Substack.
I can only go on my 'feelings' but Twitter sure feels hollow. The same, but not. Certainly rarely entertaining anymore. (I'm a BretBug follower)
I thought it was due to people leaving or on a break but no, I just do not get my follows in my feed any more. Habits take time to die - Substack is my new go-to for news as I had already subscribed to many of the writers I care about and no longer need Twitter.
Twitter needs me: lurkers, non-influencers, low-followers have a role in social media and Elon discounted our value.
RSS! I'm here via my RSS Feeds folder :)
I love that Substack offers RSS for the archive page. I subscribe to a lot of Substacks (who I add to my RSS feeds folder) but RSS to a good few more. I rarely see my emailed Substacks as they go to an address that's oversubscribed, but I check my RSS for posts from people I'm interested in hearing more from daily looking for unreads.
I am really really REALLY curious what kind of analytics Substack offers for readers who arrive via RSS
Saw this on Mastodon too. I can’t stay on Twitter very long, my feed is full of Qnuts, MAGA nuts and the new Republican Congress nuts. I don’t follow any of these people and I don’t see so many of the people I do follow, I don’t need the aggravation, so I go elsewhere
Even before Musk took over Twitter I noticed a decline in reach. I thought it was a shadowban because I'm an NSFW content creator and now it's exacerbated by the people leaving. A good portion of my audience is LGBTQ, so I would assume they left early on.
I have 10k followers on Twitter but I get more engagement on Mastodon where I have 1/10 of the audience and I noticed the lack of engagement for a weekly hashtag I host that has nothing to do with NSFW content too.
Either we're all shadowbanned because we don't have the blue checkmark or engagement is through the floor.
I found the exact same phenomenon. Even smaller view counts (as a proportion of my followers) on Twitter. I've since locked my account and have basically stopped tweeting there. Instead growing a readership on Substack and participating in conversations on Mastodon. Even had my first viral toot!
Though I don't understand why this one didn't go viral