Even before the news that the Twitter board has reached an agreement with Elon Musk for his purchase of the platform, I saw concern and outright panic at the thought of how Twitter would change with the change in ownership. It’s no lie that each business owner, or board, brings with them new and changing perspectives on how the business should be run, what should be allowed, and what policies to change. In the case of Twitter, the de facto public square of the internet, concerns are rising over what an ownership transfer means for free speech and the future of the platform, and in my opinion, rightly so. What does all of this mean for authors?
First, if you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ve heard me preach about not building your business on anyone else’s platform, and that includes Amazon, social media companies, or even such things as having only one publisher (especially if you’re small press). Building your business on someone else’s platform puts you at the whims of that platform. In the case of Facebook and Instagram, it’s constant changes and wild swings in post viewership, not to mention opaque policies, and more attempts to monetize the service. When it comes to Twitter, no doubt we’ll see the same changes to post views, ad policies, and even possible restrictions on free speech. (Musk notoriously cancelled the Tesla order of a blogger who spoke badly about him, which reminds me of actions taken by other publishing/author-oriented companies.)
The only thing we do know is that Twitter, and social media in general, will constantly change. That’s all we can count on. People claiming Twitter, or the writing community on it, are dead, might be playing a bit into a “chicken little” mindset. The sky’s not falling yet; the weather, however, most likely will change.
What that means for authors is that it’s more vital than ever for authors to have a website (yes, even if it has low traffic) and to drive traffic to that website so you can build your business on your own platform. It means not relying on a social media platform for your only source of promotion or even for your sole web presence. And it means keeping an ear to the ground for any potential changes.
I don’t think panic is warranted, but neither is a cavalier attitude. Instead, it’s up to authors to pay attention to anything which may affect their book marketing, networking, or sales. Keep a wary eye to those Twitter skies, so if a storm does come, you can get under cover.