Twitter’s second coming – and why it matters for PRs

It might not surprise you to discover that the Clarity team are serious news junkies. We spend mornings combing through round up emails, poring over the papers old school style and checking online feeds for live updates.

The source that invariably delivers the news quicker than anyone else though is of course Twitter. Sure the platform has had its ups and downs recently, and clearly has an issue with extremists, but it is an invaluable part of any PR toolkit.

It is interesting to note too that recently publishers and news companies have started to get more interested in the platform once again. While at the same time Twitter, which has been dogged by financial poor performances and a lack of confidence from the investor community, has posted a profit for the first time.

A few years back the media was very Facebook-centric. A Buzzfeed employee once told me that Twitter traffic was for vanity, the real traffic came from Facebook. Over time though that has been changing and BuzzFeed recently reported that the amount of traffic Twitter is sending to news media is on the up. This may be because the number of people who use Twitter daily has increased by about 12 percent from the same time last year.

One one level the growth is partly due to political volatility, Trump, Brexit etc, which has revitalised political journalism. Yet at the same time Twitter’s recent tweaks and innovations seem to have made it more vital and easier to use.

A Facebook-shaped opportunity

If anything things could get even better for Twitter following Facebook’s recent recalibration of its news feed algorithm. The company is now focusing on delivering posts that users are most likely to engage with, which translates largely to stories from families and friends rather than brands and news companies. Incidentally live video also delivers high levels of engagement, but that’s a story for another time.

It could be a double win for publishers. “Twitter has always been an important place for us to reach a hyper-engaged audience and now we’re seeing the traffic it drives beginning to rival that of Facebook,” site director Michael Sebastian told BuzzFeed News.

It could be too a big opportunity for Twitter to consolidate its relationship with publishers.

Publishers have agonised over the last few years about how best to work with Facebook. Many have built empires off the back of its newsfeed and its innovations like Instant Articles. Perhaps with the growing level of traffic Twitter is delivering, plus apparently a revitalised Google which is also seeing an uptick in traffic to the media, things may be slightly less complicated for news organisations.

Personally I love the randomness of the non algorithm chronological feed that Twitter delivers to desktop and, in a tweaked way, to mobile.

It goes without saying too that PR execs need a vibrant and vital news media. It is a symbiotic relationship, and the recent damage to news media caused by fake news, falling ad revenues and confusion over social strategies, has also caused issues for the communications industry. Here’s hoping that Twitter’s second coming lights a spark of optimism across the industry.

Words Ashley Norris


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