First of all, like the M.C. Hammer parody in this post title?
No, but really, folks, it’s time to get serious for a minute – especially all you small-to-mid-sized bloggers, sites and online businesses out there.
In case you haven’t heard, Twitter has officially announced that they will be removing tweet/retweet counts from social share buttons. This means that if you’re using a plugin or widget on your site to show the number of times your posts have been shared and tweeted on Twitter, that function will soon no longer be supported.
Now, I don’t claim to be some sort of super-knowledgeable expert on blogging and social media, but I’ve been doing this pretty much full-time now for about four years so while I may still lack technical expertise I do know a thing or two.
So why is this bad news for bloggers?
Because for better or worse Twitter has become a critical component in the way a site’s validity and popularity are measured in the public’s eye. And while I can’t prove it I’m pretty certain that my redoubled efforts to improve Pop Mythology’s Twitter presence greatly boosted our Google rankings, Klout score and Alexa ranking, among many other popular barometers for a website’s success. When someone I’d like to work with in some way – say, a publisher whose review copies I’d like my book reviewers to receive – goes to my site, he or she can immediately see the number of tweets for certain articles and verify my claims that our site is widely viewed. There are still other ways to show this: number of Facebook shares, for example, or overall view count. Or if I have a traffic stat counter plugin installed I can take a screenshot of those numbers and send it to whomever. But with each function that is taken away, my ability to “sell” my site, as it were, to prospective partners and allies becomes more difficult. And Twitter share stats serve a BIG function in this respect.
In the coming days and weeks, expect online commentators to further question this move (and its motives) on Twitter’s part.
Julia McCoy of ExpressWriters.com has opined that “companies are noticing that where the biggest impact will be is with smaller publishers instead of larger sites like Mashable. This could be potentially bad for smaller publishers, but we don’t know just how large the impact will be.”
SmallBusinessTrends.com further states that “smaller publishers and businesses are possibly going to have to pay Twitter to access and share information about share counts.”
You know how this game works: the bigger, corporate-funded sites will be able to afford such a paid feature and we smaller sites won’t.
While it’s too early to tell exactly what impact this new move by Twitter will have, and you can never really know for sure with Internet-related things, my own guess is also that this will not overly affect already big sites like BuzzFeed or the Huffington Post, but it may make things more difficult in various ways for smaller sites.
It’s possible that those of us who are worried are wrong to worry. Maybe this will end up having very little effect. But I sort of doubt that.
If all this makes you uncomfortable, let Twitter know. Most likely, they’ll still probably do whatever they feel like, and that is certainly their right, but at least this way they can know that many users out there aren’t thrilled with the idea.
Alternatively, some people, feeling that asking Twitter to reverse their decision is a lost cause, are simply asking for a extension of the cut-off date so that they can brainstorm viable alternatives before losing their data.
Either way, if you own a blog or online biz and you’ve worked hard to build up your tweet counts, take action! The worst that will happen is the same thing as if we do nothing, which is that Twitter will proceed according to plans.