Understanding and Overcoming Twitter’s New Mute Feature


Today we bring you a guest post via Sahana Jayaraman, Head of Digital and Content Marketing, and Vincent Bates, Senior Account Executive, Social and Digital, at Bay Area firm Eastwick.

Twitter has traditionally offered brands the ability to quickly spread content to large follower audiences, offering an ability to gain reach unlike any other social channel.

However, with the recent rollout of Twitter’s mute feature, brands can no longer be certain that their audiences are listening, as the feature enables users to stop receiving content from accounts without having to unfollow them.

Why did Twitter create this feature…and what do we need to know about it?

Rationale for this feature:

You may be asking: if a brand’s followers are not interested in the content they are receiving, why not simply unfollow the account? While personal factors may differ, here are a few common reasons:

  • A follower may still like certain brands and want to be associated with their Twitter communities; however, there are times when brands are “too” noisy (e.g. SXSW, CES), bombarding follower’s walls with Tweet after Tweet. The follower can temporarily mute the brand so as not to receive unwanted messages during that time.
  • When there are two handles following each other, the muted content will not appear on a follower’s feed; however, the follower’s content will still appear on the muted handle’s feed. In essence, the follower retains their opportunity engage and gain Twitter love (favorites, retweets, etc.). If they were to unfollow they would lose the ability to share their content.
  • A follower may become completely disinterested in a brand and its content but want to maintain a decent account follower to following ratio. Twitter will deem handles spam if they are not following enough people but only gaining followers.

Now, why should you and your clients care?

While this feature has the potential to put a damper on your organic reach, there are a few things to remember:

Twitter will [in the meantime] remain the best community “reach” channel.

Barring those who mute your brand, 100% of your community will receive your tweet, as compared to the 2.11% – 6.15% (all pages – pages with 500K likes, respectively) of community members on Facebook.

Your tweeting strategy will need to be more focused.

When you have a large and varied audience, there’s always a temptation to use a megaphone approach to content – tweeting only brand-centric content or content so general that it will apply to everyone; however, there are few surer ways to be muted than to lose touch with your followers. To stay relevant to followers, focus your social to ensure that you’re providing them with useful, engaging, targeted material.

Your community may become a bit quieter from time to time, but it won’t shrink.

A follower may have temporarily tuned out of the conversation, but (s)he didn’t leave the room. Should a follower decide to visit your page and see content that (s)he likes, the follower can unmute your account and begin receiving and possibly engaging with your content again.

You can overcome the mute feature via paid tweets.

With Twitter’s increased focus on raising ad revenue, promoted tweets remain immune from the mute function. As you leverage paid promotion in your social strategy, your most valuable content will not be blocked from its intended target audience members.

You’ll have to be extra conscious of what you’re Tweeting.

Whether you’re attempting to increase your audience’s engagement rate or avoid having your account muted, the quality of your content and Tweeting frequency will always be the key drivers for success. Remember to always give your audience what they want as you attempt to meet your objectives, and that everything is best in moderation – no one wants to be “that” overbearing friend.

Watch audience engagement, because you won’t be notified when you’ve been muted.

Unfortunately there’s no certain way to know if you’ve been muted or not, as you’ll never be notified or see any indicators that a follower has muted your content. In an attempt to gauge this, our best advice is to constantly monitor and measure your channel’s performance. Give context to your metrics to help explain engagement drops (e.g. did you see a significant engagement decrease during an event you were live-tweeting?).

While the engagement rate changes may not always be attributed to muting, keeping a close eye on these metrics will help you to respond to what your community is telling you via their engagement: either “we love what you’re doing” (engagement increase) or “something needs to change” (engagement decrease).