Ewan Larkin
Feb 8, 2024

Twitter co-founder's Bluesky Social goes public: What are the benefits and risks for brands?

Intended to be a rival platform to X (formerly Twitter), the Jack Dorsey-funded app is now open to the public, but brands still seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach.

Photo: Getty Images.
Photo: Getty Images.

After nearly a year as an invitation-only app, decentralised X rival Bluesky has finally opened up to the public.

The app, funded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, had roughly 3 million sign-ups before opening its doors. Bluesky hopes that without needing an invite to join, some of those people will convert into active users.

Even still, Bluesky will face an uphill battle trying to catch X, formerly known as Twitter, let alone other competitors like Meta’s Threads, which boasts 130 million monthly active users, or Mastodon

I’ve been tinkering with Bluesky in recent weeks, and I’m a bit lukewarm on its viability as a corporate communications platform for brands, but there are some features that have marketing potential. 

Through its underlying AT Protocol, Bluesky also allows anyone to create custom feeds. Bluesky CEO Jay Graber told The Verge, for example, that she follows a feed full of pictures of moss. 

This feels to me like a concept creative social media managers and PR practitioners can take advantage of. Imagine custom McDonald’s feeds dedicated to brand mascots like Grimace, or Chipotle using the tool to showcase its new menu options. There are possibilities aplenty. 

According to The Verge, Bluesky plans to take a percentage of purchases for things that developers will be able to charge for, including custom feeds. 

Bluesky is also rolling out a feature that will let users and organisations develop their own content-moderation services, The Washington Post reported. The outlet says that organisations will be able to apply labels to certain posts, which would then be seen by users who subscribe to them. 

The platform comes fitted with some basic features for social media moderation. You can search for posts on the app, a tool that wasn’t available on Threads at launch. Being able to search for where brands are being mentioned on social media is critical for PR professionals, especially in preempting crises or joining cultural conversations.

I haven’t seen many, if any, brands on Bluesky yet. That may change now that the app is public, but given how many other platforms companies are already juggling, it’s hard to justify investing in another nascent one. 

Who’s to say other dominant players won’t integrate some of Bluesky’s unique features? There’s lots of risk for brands in the early stages.

Major publications such as Bloomberg and The Washington Post are already active on Bluesky, though. That’s an encouraging sign for PR professionals accustomed to connecting with reporters on social media, especially as some journalists continue to criticise X’s news functionality

There are some more significant changes on the horizon. Later this month, Bluesky plans to start letting outside developers host their own servers on its AT Protocol, which is designed to rival ActivityPub, the decentralised protocol powering apps like Mastodon. For now there’s just Bluesky, but we could see endless new social media apps under the AT protocol. 

It seems, at least for now, that Bluesky is prioritising individual user experience and open public conversation over building a space for brands to exist. A wait-and-see approach is likely the safe play for PR professionals.

Source:
Campaign US

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