What does Twitter’s “X” rebrand mean for political influence? 

Written by


Jack Spriggs

Published


When Elon Musk acquired Twitter for $44bn in October 2022, many heralded the end of the platform as we know it.  

And Twitter – which has long been the online meeting point for politicians, political journalists, and political influencers – has been the subject of intense speculation about its future since Musk’s takeover. Many commentators predicted an exodus of advertisers, or projected that users would abandon the platform in their droves. But the reality is slightly different. 

Twitter remains a key platform for politicians, journalists, and influencers. It plays a key role in shaping the online debate, driving the news agenda, and enabling politicians to engage with constituents and trolls alike. 

However, all that could be about to change with the introduction of “X”, Elon Musk’s heavily touted rebrand of the channel. 

The rebrand means losing more than the Bird 

Musk says Twitter will be dropping its bird motif and ditching the term Twitter, in favour of the slightly mysterious “𝕩”, and X execs say the rebrand is “an exciting new opportunity.” They say that X will “[transform] the global town square.” 

And the rebrand is about more than a logo change. It signals a shift in direction for the company away from just being a platform for communication and into new realms. Musk says he wants to create a “super app” under the X banner, and the future for the organisation might include payments and shopping incorporated within a single X app. 

But what does this shift mean for users, and how will it influence UK politics going forward? 

Where next for UK politicians? 

The truth is that Twitter has been the go-to place for politicians and journalists since at least 2010. It’s embedded into the UK’s political culture in ways that other social platforms just aren’t. So, rest assured that UK politicians won’t let go of Twitter too easily. 

And although Twitter has never been the best place for politicians to engage with their constituents – that’s where Facebook wins the crown – it is still the place where national conversations take place, where stories are broken, and where journalists and influencers drive the day. So if X loses its crown as the UK’s social political hub, where will politicians head to next? 

  • Threads? The truth is that Zuckerberg’s fledgling Twitter dupe isn’t quite ready to be the next political hub. Right now it’s missing serious functionality to enable it to compete with what Twitter can offer to politicos. 
  • LinkedIn? MPs (including the Prime Minister) are already using LinkedIn really effectively. But the platform – and its algorithm – doesn’t lend itself to the type of instant agenda-setting coverage that we’re used to on Twitter. (That being said, your brand should be using LinkedIn as a key channel to engage with politicians. Cavendish analysis shows that hundreds of MPs are actively using LinkedIn to engage) 
  • Mastodon? Long held up by FPBE-type liberals as the next big thing, it hasn’t quite taken off. 

So, will X remain the platform-of-choice for politicians and journalists? Only time will tell, but brands should remain aware of the ever-changing social landscape, and all the pitfalls that come with it. The future of online political influence is uncertain – we should wait for the dust to settle on X before making any firm predictions about the future state of political social media in the UK. 

To understand how brands should navigate the changing social landscape – or for digital campaigning and social media advice – get in touch with Jack Spriggs

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