October 8, 2015
It feels like content marketing, social media, Google…heck, now Twitter—changes every day.
We’ve hit October now, and now I’m hearing that Twitter has redesigned its tweet and follow buttons and will be doing away with the share count – those numbers that display how many times a tweet has been shared.
The company announced this massive decision to remove a feature that has been part of share buttons for the past half a decade in a post on the Twitter community forum.
What’s more, the post added that, for the first time since 2011, Twitter would be updating its Tweet and Follow buttons. No more blue Twitter bird. No more 3D effect. No more black text.
The replacement: a basic 2D white-over-blue version.
The Times, They Are a Changin’
This update is just the latest addition to a stream of changes Twitter has made of late. Some of the most significant changes include the launch of desktop notifications to make direct messaging easier, losing the 140 character limit on direct messages and removing the homepage wallpaper.
Don’t head for the hills just yet. Let’s look at what prompted these changes.
A lot of people seem to think the company is facing a kind of leadership crisis since its Senior Engineering Director moved over to Uber and their relentless search for a suitable CEO failed to net results.
To add fuel to the fire, the company has been slapped with a lawsuit alleging that they snoop on direct messages.
So competitors are doing what they need to do – stepping up their game and seizing new opportunities. Instagram has surpassed Twitter and become the second most popular social platform.
It seems like Twitter is introducing all these changes in an attempt to climb the popularity ladder once more and become more user-friendly.
What Do the Changes Mean for Businesses and Marketers?
In the announcement post, Twitter mentions that REST API’s search endpoints will be the most accurate way to garner random information about URLS shared on the site and full-archive search counts can get gathered from Gnip.
In other words, businesses, marketers and smaller publishers may well have to pay Twitter to access and share information regarding share counts.
For smaller website owners, there are two options: working with Gnip for those full-archive search counts or use REST API.
As for larger publishers who already have a relationship with Gnip, nothing much will change. Those companies will still be able to publish and gather share counts from article links and share buttons in real-time. It’s really the smaller marketers, publishers and individual sites that will be affected.
Take journalists as an example. In the 2015 Edelman Media Forecast, it was reported that 76% of journalists feel the pressure to publish stories that can be shared on social media.
Those share counts are a key ingredient in social proofing that boosts that story across the Internet. So what about local reporters? They feel a lot of the same pressure and this will no doubt cause problems for regional newspapers with smaller newsrooms having a less advanced grasp of digital.
It’s the Same for Marketers
It’s very similar for marketers. Smaller marketers are going to struggle with these changes. They’re absolutely going to have to use the REST API. However, they will have to get permission to act on behalf of each user which requires OAuth.
They will also have to be on their toes as Twitter could move the goalposts at any time.
There’s little argument that the number of times a campaign is shared is a fairly poor measure of success. However, success isn’t the only thing that has to be measured.
Share counts can be a really useful reference point for a quick, at-a-glance assessment of a possible PR placement. They’re also one of the more informative metrics out there for instances when a websites analytics platform is unavailable.
But Look at This Way…
If you’re looking for light at the end of the tunnel consider this – share counts can be, and actually are being, gamed like links or follower counts and are really only as useful as Domain Authority when looking at a partner’s potential. At best they’re a slight indication. At worst, a red herring.
Looking Forward to Change Yet?
At a time when social platforms are going all out to court businesses and users, it’s going to be pretty exciting to see the response the new changes will receive.
Twitter is actually planning on continuing with its reinvention in order to regain momentum. The latest gossip is that they are experimenting with a new way to poll users on the site.
What’s your take on these changes?
Do you rely on share counts to measure metrics or have you been using other methods for ages? Let me know in the comments.
Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.