NPR’s Departure from Twitter: A Non-Event for the Media Giant

Six months ago, NPR made headlines for leaving Twitter, a move that sparked conversations about the platform’s influence on media organizations. The decision came after Twitter labeled NPR as “U.S. state-affiliated media,” a tag that the media organization found misleading.

Now, half a year later, the impact of this departure appears to be minimal, with NPR experiencing only a 1% drop in web traffic.

The Backstory

NPR decided to leave Twitter after the platform labeled it as “U.S. state-affiliated media.” This label was not only misleading but also at odds with Twitter’s own definition of the term.

NPR is a private, nonprofit company with editorial independence, receiving less than 1% of its annual budget from government funding. The label led to a series of petitions and internal memos, culminating in NPR’s decision to quit the platform.

The Aftermath

Six months after leaving Twitter, NPR’s traffic has dropped by only a single percentage point. Before leaving, traffic from Twitter accounted for just under 2% of NPR’s total web traffic.

The negligible impact has raised questions about the actual utility of Twitter for media organizations. Many of NPR’s affiliate stations, including KUOW in Seattle and Minnesota Public Radio, also followed suit and left the platform.

Quality Over Quantity

NPR’s engagement team noted that even before leaving Twitter, the quality of engagement was suffering. Impressions and reach were decreasing despite a similar publishing cadence.

The platform’s algorithmic changes made it increasingly challenging to reach active users, leading to a drop-off in engagement shortly after tweeting.

Alternative Platforms

NPR has been experimenting with other social media platforms like Meta’s Threads, which is delivering about 39% of the traffic that Twitter used to provide. Instagram and other platforms have also been more rewarding in terms of audience engagement and reach.

Staff Well-being

One of the unexpected benefits of leaving Twitter has been a reduction in staff burnout. The audience on alternative platforms like Threads is seemingly more welcoming, reducing the emotional toll on staff members.

The Bigger Picture

The negligible impact of NPR’s departure from Twitter has broader implications for the media landscape. It confirms suspicions that Twitter may not be as crucial for media organizations as previously thought. The platform’s utility seems to be more significant for reporters sourcing information rather than driving meaningful audience engagement.

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