Does X mark the spot? Consumer attitudes on changes at Twitter

aytm logo icon
Posted Jul 28, 2023
Tiffany Mullin

The social media landscape sure looks different today than it did a few short weeks ago. X has replaced Twitter’s iconic bird logo, and the initial explosion of Instagram’s new Twitter-like app, Threads has settled. Undoubtedly, even more changes may have occurred in the short window between drafting and publishing this post!

To cut through the conjecture, we wanted to hear what social media users think of all of these changes. So we ran a 6-minute survey on the aytm platform to 1,000 American social media users, aged 18 and over, US Census Representative and got the results back in under 24 hours. Here’s what we found.

Consumer opinions on Twitter

Let’s kick things off with a bit of a highlight reel. Here are some interesting findings from our study:

  • 36.8% of social media users surveyed reported their perceptions of Twitter are more negative now than they were 12 months ago.
  • 44.3% believe that Elon Musk has had a negative impact on the platform since acquiring it in 2022.
  • 44.8% of current Twitter users have negative feelings about the rebrand from Twitter to X.
  • About 8% of social media users currently use Instagram’s Threads, while 39.5% currently use X (formerly Twitter).

The social media landscape is changing

Over the years, social media apps have come and gone, but for the most part, the major players have remained the same: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and somewhat more recently, TikTok have dominated the space. 

We’ve seen a fair share of social media apps come and go of course. Myspace (shoutout to my top five!), Vine, Google Plus, Yik Yak, Xanga, Friendster… the list can go on and on. But some platforms are simply too big to fall…. Or so many thought. 

But before we get into that, we started our study wanting to get a better sense of consumer perceptions of social media as a whole. 

Overall, consumers have mixed feelings about social media, with 39.6% saying they have a somewhat or very positive perception, 34.4% neutral, and 26% expressing negative feelings about social media as a whole.

Why do people use social media? Top reasons from a survey of 1,000 social media users

Perceptions of Twitter change under new leadership

In 2022, billionaire Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion. Asked how their impression of Twitter has changed over the past 12 months since that acquisition, 46.1% of consumers said their perception stayed the same, 17.1% have slightly or significantly more positive perceptions of Twitter, and 36.8% reported their perceptions of the company are slightly or significantly more negative.

Similarly, when asked what impact Elon Musk has had on Twitter since buying it, 44.3% believe he’s had a negative impact on the platform while 25.7% believe he’s had a positive impact (22.5% responded as neutral and 7.4% said they were unsure).

But as we dig deeper, it becomes clear that Elon Musk has had a vastly polarizing, and at times politicizing, impact on perceptions of Twitter’s platform. Below are just a few open-ended responses explaining why certain respondents were not at all likely to recommend Twitter to another person:

“Since Elon Musk has taken over Twitter it has become a cesspool of misinformation, offensive content, and propaganda. It isn't fit to consume.”
“The change in ownership has brought on a drastic decline of that platform. More censorship has occurred and I don't feel like I'm free to post what I want or like to anymore.”
“Due to the recent changes and overall poor moderation cannot recommend in good faith.

On the flip side, when certain respondents were asked to elaborate on why they would be extremely likely to recommend Twitter to another person, many of the responses applauded Elon’s new direction, praising him for protecting free speech on the platform. These were some of the responses we received:

“It's a great way to communicate quickly with others and much better since Elon Musk bought it.”
“The new direction is based on free speech and truth as opposed to the previous direction.”
“Elon Musk now owns it and made it much truthful.”

Twitter becomes X: The everything app

The latest step in the ongoing transformation of Twitter took place on July 24th, 2023, when Elon Musk and Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino announced that Twitter would be rebranding to X. 

“The Twitter name made sense when it was just 140-character messages going back and forth— like birds tweeting—but now you can post almost anything, including several hours of video. In the months to come, we will add comprehensive communications and the ability to conduct your entire financial world."

Feedback from critics on the rebrand has been overwhelmingly negative, with many calling it one of the more baffling brand exercises in recent memory. Our study found that many respondents felt similarly, with 42.9% having negative feelings about the rebrand compared to just 9.8% who reported having positive feelings (15.2% hadn’t heard about the rebrand, and 32.1% had neutral feelings).

Looking exclusively at respondents who indicated that they were current Twitter users, 12.4% had positive feelings about the rebrand to X, 30.1% are neutral, and 48.8% have somewhat or very negative feelings (8.6% were unaware of the rebrand to X). 

The rise of Threads and other Twitter clones

With the future of Twitter unknown, several other social media apps have emerged as new competitors in the space. Platforms like Mastadon, Bluesky, Spill, and T2 were all created hoping to capture the attention of social media users no longer satisfied with Twitter’s platform. 

Recognizing an opportunity, on July 5th, 2023, Meta’s Instagram launched its own text-based app Threads, and within just five days achieved 100 million sign ups. While usage has slowed since that initial boom, Threads still seems like the most promising platform for Twitter defectors. 

Our study found that Threads is indeed leading the “Twitter clone” category in terms of both awareness (38.8%) and current usage (8.0%). There’s a long way to go to compete with Twitter X itself (a whopping 84.3% of consumers are aware of Twitter and 39.5% currently use) but considering Twitter has been around since 2006 and Threads is just a few weeks old, it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.

Awareness and usage of "Twitter clones" among social media users

Only time will tell if the change from Twitter’s former iconic bird brand to the new, sleek X will revitalize the app's user base or if it will drive users to similar alternative platforms like Threads. Now the question is, if Twitter is now X, what do we call Tweets? 

See more of the study here

Featured Stories

New posts in your inbox