Leaving my X Twitter
October 19, 2023

Leaving my X, well Twitter as I’ll always call it

By Paul Laughlin

Just a shorter blog post this week, whilst my life is busy, to explain my decision to leave X (or Twitter as it used to be known).

I have contemplated this option for many months. It was an option I was considering long before I shared Tony Boobier’s post suggesting I might not miss it. Two other influences on this decision have been my reading about the distraction of social media (including “Digital Minimalism” by Cal Newport) and the reduced quality of content in my feed.

Although this is a personal decision (what is right for me not necessarily anyone else), it is not driven by my politics or my faith. I did not join and do not use Twitter for my personal life. For me, it has always been a business tool. So, this is a decision about the relative business value given the time taken.

The long journey of reducing distractions

Since I started my business nearly a decade ago, one of my chief concerns has been focus. As someone who mainly works alone, I need to be self-motivated and productive. Eliminating unproductive distractions has always proven valuable.

Even before I formed Laughlin Consultancy (to focus on training data/analytics teams and mentoring their leaders), I had left Facebook. The data privacy scandals of a decade ago, coupled with how distracting I found it in my personal life drove that decision. I never missed it. Apart from the occasional awkwardness of a restaurant or takeaway that only has a Facebook page, I haven’t needed it or wanted it. So, before reading Cal Newport’s aforementioned book, I was already a believer.

In the early years of this blog, I also shared several books that helped me improve my focus and productivity. These included “Indistractable” by Nir Eyal and “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. Both in different ways caused me to be more critical in ensuring each software/app that I used in my daily work deserved my time rather than distracting me from what I was seeking to achieve. “Platform” and “Living Forward” by Michael Hyatt also helped me step back and think about this in a wider context.

The balance of some past value, commercial metrics

To be transparent and balanced about this, over the years Twitter has delivered some marketing & sales value to my business. In the early years of my business, two new clients cited that they first found me on Twitter. A few more made clear they had noticed my regular content shared on Twitter as part of their due diligence. So, beyond vanity metrics like followers & likes, I was able to attribute a positive ROI to my spending on Twitter.

I mentioned above the influence of “Platform” by Michael Hyatt on my content marketing strategy. His work (in that book and on his blog) drummed into me the importance of consistent content creation & regular sharing on social media. Combined with other media channels, especially LinkedIn, Reddit, Pinterest & YouTube, that drove me to prove that Twitter was helping drive traffic to my content (initially my blog & latterly my podcast).

But, that comes at a cost. Daily creation of sufficient content (including sharing curated content from others, more than just pushing my own). Use of social media automation software to reduce that load & reshare with appropriate regularity my evergreen content. For some channels, notably LinkedIn, this still appears to be worthwhile. Certainly, when combined with articles or micro-blogging on LinkedIn’s platform as well. It is still an active meeting place for this in business (in my experience).

Revisiting the value equation and my decision

Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter and subsequent rebranding as X certainly divided opinion. I won’t get into his personality, politics or questionable choices/statements here. The relevance of my commercial decision is the platform (especially once rebranded X) began to lose members. Several prominent thought leaders and content producers migrated to alternatives like Mastodon or Threads.

As Tony stated in his blog post on “Social Media accounts for your work profile, are they worth it?” he prompted us to revisit the value equation of this media channel. If you look at your media effectiveness metrics and attribution for it improving prospect relationships or sales revenue, can you justify it? Is the time you take contributing to it of sufficient value to justify your time (& perhaps cost) investment?

As I began to review the above and reflect on what I had seen on Twitter in recent months, I decided the answer was no. My personal experience is that my feed is full of a lot more irrelevant sales pitches & ‘same old same old’ content. It’s been a long time since I learnt something new & helpful there. Unlike, LinkedIn, it does not appear to help me stay better connected with my clients, prospects, partners & friends across different businesses.

But the final ‘nail in the coffin’ for me was listening to the below episode of Cal Newport’s Deep Questions podcast. There is lots of interesting content in this episode (as always), but if you advance to 1hr:7min:10sec you will hear the ‘NPR leaving Twitter’ case study. In reviewing his thinking on that, Cal encapsulated nicely why I too have decided to leave. If you are also wavering or unsure then I recommend listening to this & perhaps reading “Digital Minimalism“. Bye bye Twitter.

Ep. 270: Depth vs. Distraction – The Deep Life by Cal Newport

An increasing number of people are suffering from “super distractions” that rise above the level of harmless diversion and instead start to actively hold them back in their life. Some of the common culprits cited include social media, online pornography, and alcohol.