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Playing in Traffic: Treading the Line Between Ethics and Engagement

A recent conversation we had with members of the Fairsay Campaigning Forum raised some challenging questions around the increasing controversy surrounding Twitter [X].

Since the finalisation of Elon Musk’s takeover in 2022, turbulent waters have been the order of the day, with mass layoffs, major product changes (bring back the block feature!) and some seriously rash decisions. The question remains for charities: do we stay, or do we go? 

I think the answer here is not as simple as it initially looks, and it depends entirely on what your charity is designed to do, and your current relationship with Twitter users. It’s easy to say, “it’s not ethical, back out” and cite the near-half loss of advertising spend alongside Musk’s checkered past. But what if your charity community is hugely engaged on Twitter and organic traffic from there makes up a massive chunk of your digital footfall?  

I think the answer lies in understanding your positioning and keeping a close eye on any changes. The main aim of your charity is your unique focus, and wherever your supporters are, is where you need to be. Sure, if you are actively promoting Human Rights, I would argue there is an ethical standpoint here that’s more important – but for all other areas? Stick it out. For now. 

The responsibility must be on your focus to your own goal. If you lost donations or signups for your own cause because of the ethics of the owner of a marketing channel, does that bring your own priorities into question? It’s a tough call for sure, and not one with a simple answer. It’s that horrible ‘would you rather’ that you don’t want to get into.  

There was a lot of conversation around an alternative. Twitter (sorry… X!) is great for conversational microblogging which fundamentally drives chat. It has its place and currently no-one else is remotely close. Threads seem to have lost their sewing pattern, Mastodon is just too tricky to use right now, and Bluesky is Twitter with a bouncer at the door, and if you’ve not got an invite…well you ain’t getting in mate.  

So have a look at your data. How’s Twitter doing for your traffic? How does it look for conversion? What would the impact be?  

The data we are seeing on the Charity Digital Benchmark shows an obvious shift from lows at initial takeover, rising back up earlier in the year. Now though, it’s declining fairly rapidly. We are, however, still seeing significant traffic despite the loss in ad spend – so bear that in mind.  

Graph showing Twitter driven traffic over the last twelve months, in bell curve

It is still driving traffic, but you could suggest that if this trend continues it is worth looking at your overall mix and shifting focus. That said, you must weigh up what staying on the platform would mean in relation to your core message.  

So, in the (slightly modified) words of the Clash – if you go, will there be trouble, but if you stay… will it be double? That is the key bit you need to work out for your charity, and if staying isn’t at odds with your core mission, well, I would be Clamping Down. (Yes, I know… another shamelessly doctored song title pun!). 


*Session data averaged from benchmark users over date period. Adjustments were made for data differences due to shift from UA to GA4. 

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