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Business_news Twitter is testing a new feature that lets users limit or disable replies

Business_news

On Wednesday, Twitter began testing a feature allowing users to limit or disable replies, its second recent move aimed at giving users more control over replies to their tweets. Prior to last November, when Twitter introducedits “Hide Replies” feature, users weren’t able to moderate replies at all — and even then, replies were only hidden behind an extra click, rather than being deleted.

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The new feature goes even further than “Hide Replies,” allowing users to preemptively limit replies to only those a user follows or mentions — or disable them altogether. The functionality will be especially appealing for brands and public figures, who may want to communicate unilaterally with a large audience without compromising a tightly controlled brand identity. 

While the feature is appealing in terms of brand safety, brands should be careful using it for two reasons:

  • Limiting replies would also restrict engagement on both paid and organic tweetsAds on Twitter appear in users’ feeds with all the functionality of a normal tweet, just with a “Promoted” tag — that means that people can like, retweet, and reply to an ad the same way they would any other tweet. That’s a double-edged sword: While it gives an ad the chance to spread organically and facilitate a dialogue with consumers, it also means that negative comments can be attached right underneath a brand’s post in a highly visible way. This applies to organic posts too — for example, accounts like @Wendys and @Netflix have seen massive success by using the platform as a space for casual interaction with customers, but missteps can be amplified when angry followers are able to directly comment on them. Shutting off replies would solve for these issues, but it would also prevent brands from using the platform to its full potential, functionally turning a brand’s Twitter into an announcement board rather than a social medium.
  • Brands that disable replies could lose credibility in the eyes of consumers. Users who see that a brand has hidden or disabled replies are much more likely to distrust the brand: In a 2019 survey by Trustpilot cited by eMarketer, 95% of respondents said that when companies delete negative comments/reviews, their trust in the company decreases. Brands may be better off developing a strategy for replying to negative comments, or directing them to a separate customer service handle, rather than disabling them outright: 80% of respondents to the same study said that when companies choose to reply to negative comments instead, it actually increases their trust.

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