Can a social media platform be neutral?
This is the question we asked ourselves when it became increasingly clear that Twitter leadership conflates hate speech and misinformation with free speech, and is willing to degrade thousands of employees in the name of bottom line efficiency.
Apiary is a collective of growth marketing experts who’ve helped countless clients drive growth on Twitter. We’ve also used the platform for our own marketing initiatives and to source top talent. In fact, a Twitter property is a former client, and we currently partner with another Jack Dorsey upstart.
But “we’ve always done it that way” is not an acceptable answer around here, so we really sat with the question.
Are the business opportunities on a social media platform disconnected from the values espoused by the platform’s leadership and its policies?
Our introspection and internal team discussions have resulted in a few conclusions that ring true for us:
1. Marketing technology is not unbiased.
It’s tempting to say that a digital platform is just a collection of 1’s and 0’s. Indifferent. Neutral. It’s just code, right?
And beyond the original tech design, the application of that technology is a reflection of the worldview and beliefs of the humans who manage it every day.
Digital tools do not live in a vacuum, separate from the humans who wield them.
2. Humans are greater than business. And operating that way is consistently good for business.
This is our hill. We’ve planted a veggie garden and installed solar panels. We’re not moving.
People must come first. From client relationship standards to the tiniest line in your OOTO policies, a people-first business is the only kind we’re interested in.
And this is not merely a fluffy ideal that looks good on a blog post. 10+ years of growth for us and our client-partners proves that when you put humans over profit, profit follows. Every time.
3. The proverb “A fish rots from the head” is onto something.
Leaders should not be chosen based solely on the keywords on their LinkedIn profile.
- Do they walk the talk of the organization’s values? (But like, really?)
- Are their actions mostly guided by “me and mine” thinking versus a concern for the collective?
- How do they engage with difference? Accountability? Mistakes?
We’re deeply troubled by the current leadership at Twitter and the implications for the platform’s role in commerce, politics, and vital social movements.
For all these reasons, we’ve decided to deactivate our business profile and eliminate all Apiary Digital marketing activity on Twitter. Press play below to watch our farewell:
And that leads us to our fourth and maybe most important truth on this subject:
4. We can live our values and still support client-partners and consultant-partners who don’t share our perspective. That’s called being a grownup.
Cancel culture has duped a lot of us into believing that in every situation, there are only two options: the good side and the bad side. And we’re required to take up residence inside one of those bubbles with others who think and act exactly as we do.
Our cultural discomfort with nuance is leading many organizations to operate according to restrictive binaries, internally and with their clients. We are choosing a different approach.
We believe in data. Facts are facts. Misinformation is misinformation.
Deciding that Twitter doesn’t currently align with our values is not a judgment of your decision to stay on Twitter (if that’s what you choose).
Deciding that Twitter will no longer be a marketing channel for our business does not erase the years of growth-driving Twitter strategies that we have and will continue to provide for our client-partners.
This is not a conflict for us.
We’re talking about a platform that has almost 400 million users. There are a variety of use cases and factors for each person and business to consider. Of course.
Our stance on Twitter does not need to be yours.
This is the nuance we mentioned above – rigid ultimatums get us nowhere. We are doing our best to navigate the shades of gray with as much discernment as possible.
Today, with all the information available, leaving Twitter feels right for us. If the climate there changes, we’re open to revisiting this in the future. For now, we stand by our decision.
If you’re a current client, please look out for an email from us with more on this. And check out what our CEO, Tee Coletti Kaiser, said about this decision over on LinkedIn.