Brand visibility on Twitter became a bit murky today.
Twitter announced the rollout of a new “mute” feature. It lets Twitter users continue to follow other accounts, but without actually seeing any of the other account’s activity.
Not that I’d ever be caught dead following the San Francisco 49ers, but if I did follow them and then decided I don’t want to see their Twitter activity for a little while, the mute feature effectively makes them persona non grata for as long as I decide.
So what exactly happens when you mute another Twitter account? Here’s how Twitter explains it:
Muting a user on Twitter means their Tweets and Retweets will no longer be visible in your home timeline, and you will no longer receive push or SMS notifications from that user. The muted user will still be able to fave, reply to, and retweet your Tweets; you just won’t see any of that activity in your timeline. The muted user will not know that you’ve muted them, and of course you can unmute at any time.
I’d guess that most Twitter users would just unfollow a brand if they’re no longer interested in the company’s tweets, but they might use the mute feature on days when a company is being particularly noisy — say, during a Twitter chat or some other live event that’s prompting a lot of tweeting.
Until now, brands had some assurance that their Twitter activity could be seen by every Twitter follower. That was one of the differentiating factors between Twitter and Facebook; Twitter didn’t purposely show updates to only some of your followers the way Facebook does. And Twitter’s still not doing it algorithmically the way Facebook’s News Feed does — Twitter is putting it in the user’s control. But the point is that Twitter visibility isn’t a sure thing anymore. Some followers may not see your activity, and you have no way of knowing.
Twitter says the mute feature is rolling out to all users over the next few weeks.