Should brands be worried about Twitter’s “mute” feature?

Yesterday Twitter introduced a “mute” function that would allow its users to turn off notifications from people they didn’t want to hear from. 

Here’s how Twitter envisions it being used:

In the same way you can turn on device notifications so you never miss a Tweet from your favorite users, you can now mute users you’d like to hear from less. 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 favorite, 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 him/her, and of course you can unmute at any time.

Sounds pretty cruel right? With the mute function, users can choose to step outside the happy Twitter synergy of “you see my stuff and I see your stuff and we share everything.” Now, users can have a one way relationship, getting their followers to favorite and retweet their tweets but not see anything they are posting in return.

Brands definitely run the risk of getting muted, especially if they tweet incessantly during live events, and are generally self promotional and irritating. If anything, the mute function will raise the game of brands on Twitter, making them work hard at keeping their content engaging and providing entertainment and value for their followers. While brands won’t get any obvious notifications if they get muted, they should be able to notice a drop in engagement for their tweets, which should make them rethink their strategy.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter promises to show a brand’s tweets to all its followers, although given the way Twitter streams work, only a small percentage will see those tweets at the right time. The best thing for brands to do is to focus on coming up with great content that gets retweeted by a lot of different people. When that happens, they’ll be able to get their content across even to users who have muted them.

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