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How Twitter’s latest policy update to stop spam & malicious content is impacting brands

Last month, Twitter made a major announcement that left many social media managers mimicking the guy with blinking eyes GIF. In a move to combat the onslaught of spam and bot activity, the site said it would no longer permit simultaneous tweets across multiple accounts containing identical content.

“One of the most common spam violations we see is the use of multiple accounts on the Twitter developer platform to attempt to artificially amplify or inflate the prominence of certain Tweets,” wrote API policy and product trust team member, Yoel Roth, on the Twitter blog.

Days after the site’s announcement, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the main question his company is trying to answer right now is how it can measure the health of the platform in a way that is public and accountable.

“The more clarity we can build, the more trust we’ll have,” said Dorsey during a livestream broadcast, but many believe this latest move to curb malicious behavior is punishing the wrong users.

Less automation means more time-intensive tasks for marketers

As the communications manager for Connected Nation, a nonprofit aiming to expand access to high-speed internet across the US, Jessica Denson was immediately impacted by the change. In addition to overseeing the Connected Nation’s primary Twitter handle, she manages 10 other company-related Twitter accounts.

“I’m most often sharing news stories related to broadband expansion, telework, and efforts to close the digital divide,” says Denson. “The content is identical on the accounts several times daily because news on the subject can impact all the states we serve and provide solutions for those areas.”

With Twitter’s recent policy updates, Denson says her social media responsibilities take a lot more time now.

“It means taking the same post and reposting it each time — finding the image on my computer each time. It simply adds several minutes to every message I need out there, and when you’re doing five to 15 every day, that can eat up your time quickly.”

The companies that will be impacted most by Twitter’s update

Jim Anderson, CEO for SocialFlow, a social media management platform used by publishers and media outlets (Marketing Land included), says Twitter’s new rules will most likely affect the teams managing Twitter accounts for large media companies.

“It will have the greatest impact on national media companies that have dozens, or even hundreds of local media outlets,” says Anderson. “For example, a media company that owns radio, television and newspaper outlets in dozens of markets might want to make a human interest or lifestyle post to dozens of those properties.”

SocialFlow client Apryl Pilolli, who serves as the senior product manager for social at Cox Media, says Twitter’s latest update unfairly impacts brands.

“The fact that Twitter is penalizing everyone with this change is like a manager taking away work-from-home privileges from the whole team because one person abuses it. All brands shouldn’t be punished for a few bad apples that are misusing the functionality,” says Pilolli.

Denson agrees with Pilolli. She believes Twitter and its users would be better served if the site took more time to review individual accounts.

“I think it would be more effective if they vetted Twitter accounts rather than limiting how we can utilize our accounts. Twitter can be very effective for nonprofits trying to do good things — in our case to help fulfill our mission to close the digital divide — IF we can leverage it.”

What it means for marketers going forward

While the recent updates will make her job more challenging, Denson says it won’t change how she uses the platform.

“We’re a nonprofit. This is a good way to create outreach and engagement without added cost, so we’ll continue to use it. It will simply make our work a little more difficult,” says Denson.

Monica Wright, Marketing Land’s own vice president of growth and engagement, says her team is now natively retweeting content that previously would have been simultaneously posted across the company’s multiple Twitter accounts. Wright oversees the social accounts for all Third Door Media properties — Marketing Land, Search Engine Land, MarTech Today, SMX, MarTech Conference and Digital Marketing Depot. She says the updates definitely impact her team, but they have not caused too much of a drain on their time.

“If it’s a story on one site that is relative to another site, we simply retweet the story from each Twitter account,” says Wright.

This sentiment — that it’s going to make things more difficult, but ultimately not change behavior — appears to be the general consensus, says Anderson. When asked what feedback he has heard from clients, the CEO says the change seems to fall into the category of “mild inconvenience” for most.

“They, of course, would rather not be inconvenienced but will adapt to the change,” says Anderson. “When you look at all the other changes happening with social platforms, this is far from the biggest issue.”

The CEO says his company has communicated Twitter’s policy updates to clients and is modifying SocialFlow’s platform to comply with the updates.

“After adjusting to this change, users won’t be able to select multiple Twitter handles in a drop-down menu,” says Anderson. “If a user wants to publish the same message to three different Twitter handles, she’ll need to make the posts one by one or retweet the original post from the other handles.”

Denson, who uses TweetDeck and Hootsuite, says both have been updated.

“I can still post identical content, but I can’t do it simultaneously. I have to do each one individually,” says Denson.

Twitter’s recommendations

In the post announcing its policy updates, Twitter recommended retweets as an alternative now that tweets with identical content could no longer be automated across multiple accounts. It noted that retweets, “… should only be done from a small number of distinct accounts that you directly control,” and aggressive or high-volume automated retweets are not permitted.

Anyone breaking the rules could have their Twitter account suspended. The site also gave a March 23, 2018, deadline for social media management apps to make necessary changes so that their platforms complied with the policy updates.

Dorsey did say during his livestream that Twitter’s intention was to eventually open the verification process to everyone. Of course, that doesn’t mean Twitter would likely roll back rules around simultaneous tweets just because all users were given an opportunity to verify their accounts.

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