Elon Musk may have what it takes to attract headlines, but his ability to maintain a social media platform is still unknown.

In recent weeks the platform’s troubles have included long-term users such as Stephen Fry throwing in the towel, a roughly week-long sale on the once respected ‘blue tick’ which resulted in very convincing parodies of big brands, and significant internal downsizing.

The platform is of great use to the museums and heritage sector. It can be a virtual helpdesk, a content publishing platform and marketing channel all in one. And – at least for now – all of it is free.

Organisations have invested time and talent to build an audience and attract new visitors. So, what if Twitter becomes unstable? What if a subscription cost alienates potential followers? What if leaving the platform becomes the only moral option?

How can museum and heritage organisations make sure they have a plan in place to deal with the potential pitfalls?

Here are some things to consider:

Encourage followers toward your newsletter

If you have a newsletter, now is a great time to remind your Twitter followers of its existence. Before any of your followers decide to uninstall their Twitter app, give them a good reason to subscribe. You could offer early-access to events, commercial exclusives or engaging content from your blog.

Make the newsletter’s offer and frequency clear and the sign-up process easy, and you’ll have captured potential visitors who might otherwise never hear from you again.

Bolster your Google My Business listing

Google’s Business listings appear separately to the rest of its search results, often to the top right of the page during a search for a your location. It’s possible that even if you’ve never heard of Google My Business before, your organisation already has an automatic entry which, as the organisation, you can claim as your own from Google.

Once your organisation’s entry is claimed, much like Twitter you can create posts and events, send and receive messages and post answers to frequently asked questions. This entry will also appear when users search a phrase such as ‘museums near me’.

Your Twitter profile may currently be among the first results in Google, but Google itself is a somewhat safer bet for long-term visibility online. The business profile also includes a five-star rating, which you might consider asking regular visitors to contribute to.

Put more resources in other platforms

Any organisation investing in social media will already have a social media strategy which could be reprioritized toward more Instagram, LinkedIn or TikTok content. It might also be worth seizing the potential rewards of becoming an early adopter in a platform such as Mastodon, which is building a reputation as a Twitter alternative.

Strengthen your overall online presence

If a significant portion of your website visitors are coming from Twitter, it is worth considering ways to make up for a future shortfall with better SEO (also known as Search Engine Optimisation). Budget permitting, a ‘health check’ with an SEO specialist agency or a freelancer is easy to organise, as is a consultation with PR specialists about how to stay visible.

Make sure your Twitter data is saved

While Twitter’s rules are quickly evolving, now might be the opportune moment to download a copy of all your Twitter content or at least ensure your assets are properly saved. An official Twitter guide details how to download your Tweets and media, alongside a list of your followers for posterity.

While it is unlikely that Twitter will disappear from the internet tomorrow, the Musk madness is a good reminder that any platform you don’t own has the final say on everything you have created for it.

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