NPR’s decision to leave Twitter last year has been met with mixed reactions. Some have praised the move, while others have expressed concern that it will make it harder for the network to reach its audience. But what does NPR’s exit from Twitter really mean for publishers and users?
Last April, NPR received a strong reason to quit Twitter. The network was categorized as “U.S. state-affiliated media,” a label at odds with Twitter’s own definition. NPR ceased its Twitter activity, and other stations, including KUOW and LAist, followed suit.
Six months later, the impact of leaving Twitter was minimal. NPR’s traffic dropped only by a single percentage point, considering Twitter’s contribution was already meager. The numbers seem to confirm what many in the news industry suspected: Twitter wasn’t a substantial traffic source. However, Twitter wasn’t just about clicks; it was crucial for building reputation and credibility, fostering conversation, and staying connected with ongoing events. It’s hard to relinquish this, but alternatives exist.
For instance, KCUR and NPR turned to Instagram for engagement and information sharing, which appeared less focused on driving clicks. NPR experimented with Threads, providing about 39 percent of what Twitter delivered in terms of site visits. Their approach aims to grow audiences directly on-platform.
These shifts signify a move away from social media as the primary source of clicks, recognizing its unpredictability. While social media’s importance has been dwindling, recent changes have accentuated the platform’s declining appeal. Twitter is now less rewarding for publishers and less enjoyable for users, making departures like NPR’s more appealing.
Many users are slowly distancing themselves from Twitter, finding it less useful and compelling. Leaving is not without its fears, but as the platform’s reliability diminishes, staying becomes riskier. NPR’s experience shows that leaving might not entail substantial losses.
The sources for this piece include an article in NiemanReports.