Twitter’s New Mute Feature Means Brand Visibility Is No Sure Thing

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.

twitter-mute

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.

Related Topics: Channel: Social Media Marketing | Social Media Marketing | Top News | Twitter | Twitter: Accounts & Profiles

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Marketing Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Elisa Gabbert

    Wouldn’t you just unfollow a brand, though? You might feel guilty unfollowing your friend or colleage, not so with a brand.

  • http://blog.adstage.io Sam Mazaheri

    I really wish Twitter would use an algorithm to selectively display interesting tweets from users I follow

  • Matt McGee

    Did you see the paragraph that begins “I’d guess…”? :-)

  • Matt McGee

    That’s pretty much what the Discover tab is supposed to be.

  • Elisa Gabbert

    Ha, obviously not! Sorry about that :)

  • annaarron

    This is an awesome news. I have friends who write something in every second. I fed up with but I don’t want to block them. They are my friends and I see most of them everyday see here goo.gl/k8wAVn

  • Matt McGee

    No need to apologize, Elisa! :-)

  • http://blog.adstage.io Sam Mazaheri

    I don’t feel like I get the “Twitter experience” out of the Discover tab though, since it includes so much more than tweets.

    I guess the “Twitter experience” has to include tweet overcrowding…

  • http://www.technovia.co.uk Ian Betteridge

    Twitter visibility has never been “a sure thing”, and I have no idea why you think it would be. Most Twitter users don’t stare at Twitter 24/7, and follow enough users that if you don’t get your post out when they’re actively using the service, they don’t see it – it’s scrolled down beyond the point people will look back at.

  • http://wogan.me Wogan

    Well there’s a simple way around that – if Twitter just provided users with a count/percentage of their followers that have muted them. No specifics obviously, but then you can just drop the muted audience numbers from your ROI reporting. And from what I understand this doesn’t affect retweets – so if you’re following someone that retweets the brand, you’ll still see that content anyway.

    And for non-brand accounts, watching the mutes roll in might prompt you to change your twitter behaviour :)

  • http://www.brittanyberger.com/ Brittany Berger

    This could be great for TV. Whenever I’m not watching one of my favorite shows, I feel like I can’t go on Twitter or I’ll see spoilers in my home feed. Since I know which people I follow tweet about which shows, I can mute them until I have time to catch up.

    I agree that it would be helpful for users to just see how many people are muting them, without disclosing who the accounts are.

  • http://www.socialidentities.com Hugh Briss

    That’s what lists are for.

  • http://www.socialidentities.com Hugh Briss

    I can’t imagine taking the time to temporarily mute a bunch of people just so you can avoid spoilers and then, of course, remembering to unmute them later.

  • Pat Grady

    “Mute” implies noise, I’m (pleasantly) surprised they didn’t label it “pause”.

  • Matt McGee

    I never said Twitter users are online 24/7, did I? My point is that, unlike Facebook, there was nothing preventing your tweets from being seen. If you tweet and your follower is on Twitter, it gets seen. On Facebook, if you post an update and your fans are on Facebook, they still might not see it.

  • Yuri

    Can the person being muted still.see your new tweets?

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