Despite Elon Musk’s best efforts to stop fake accounts and pursue truth, his choice to give anyone and everyone the opportunity to have a verified account by paying $8 a month for it has, in turn, led to impersonator accounts popping up everywhere: a fake Nintendo account with Mario swearing at the audience, a fake LeBron James account announcing he has requested a trade, and a fake Trump saying ‘this is why Musk’s plan doesn’t work’ – to name a few.
This follows his announcement that he would add additional ‘Official’ grey ticks to accounts that were, well, officially official – before reversing this decision hours later.
All in all, it’s a murky mess at this particular moment, as a fake Tesla account has popped up to poke fun at the real CEO, a fake Eli Lilly account offered ‘free insulin’, and a fake Nestlé account has been causing a stir. So what should brands do? How should PR and social teams react?
‘Verified’ Eli Lily twitter account promises free insulin. People are celebrating. It is t remotely true. Someone just paid Elon Musk’s $8 pic.twitter.com/Wg4GfRIA5P— Brendan Keefe (@BrendanKeefe) November 10, 2022
Well – nothing. For now. There are likely to be many more twists in this tale before the end of the day, let alone next week or beyond. No rash decisions should be made at this point.
Instead, brands should remain extra-vigilant to protect their own brand reputation. This looks like ramped-up social listening and monitoring (either with external tools or manually searching Twitter regularly) to ensure that no parody accounts are popping up to cause trouble. In terms of publishing organic content from brands, this is highly encouraged as it will reinforce the brand’s positioning and the authenticity of existing profiles.
As for official accounts or verification? Based on the town hall hosted earlier this week, it looked like brands will simply need to pay. But, in a sign of how things are changing, an update earlier today suggests that Twitter has U-turned on Twitter Blue completely; on the site, the ability to click through and purchase verification has now disappeared. So we’re really none the wiser. This continued volatility means that remaining on Twitter and simply waiting to see what happens is the best move.
Over the next week or so, this story will progress and there will be a set of clearer moves (or not) to make as a brand – for example, whether brands should direct users to a different social platform for customer service, or whether they should remove Twitter from their social strategies altogether. But, while Twitter is currently a bit like the #WildWest, sit tight for now, until the dust settles.
That’s your advice for this week/day/hour/minute. Until Elon tweets again…
Tom Bradley is associate director at Shiny