04 May What is Bluesky – and Other Questions About This New Social Media Network
Have you heard the chatter about Bluesky yet? It’s a yet-to-be-publicly-launched social media network that people are calling an alternative to Twitter.
It’s in private beta right now, and though I signed up for it, I have not received access yet. Apparently, the wait list is ridiculously long already.
However, I am curious, so I did some research to understand more about Bluesky. Here’s what I learned.
Why does Bluesky look like Twitter?
This is the number one question I’m seeing addressed, so let’s start here. Yes, Bluesky looks like Twitter’s fraternal twin. You get a cover image (like on LinkedIn or Facebook), a profile photo, and a handle.
The feed is much more organized than on Twitter. You can view Posts or Posts and Replies. Without even using it yet, I think the option to choose a feed will make it easier to keep on top of engagement and conversations.
According to this blog post from the CEO, Jay Graber, Bluesky’s initial iteration is just an example of what it could look like. They built it to show how Twitter could be better.
By the way, posts on Bluesky are called skeets. What an unfortunate name (created by users and supposedly hated by Jay).
What is Bluesky? Is it the next big thing since sliced bread?
I’ll address that second question first: Yes, it has the potential to be even bigger than sliced bread.
Bluesky is built on AT protocol (or atproto for short), a decentralized system that will eventually allow anyone to create their own applications and communities.
As Jay wrote, “if you [a developer] just want to introduce another way of showing people posts, or moderating content in the network, we are designing interfaces for you to plug in and do exactly that, accessible through our app. If you’re building a new social app, you’ll be able to tap into the social graph and interest graph of atproto users….”
Yes, you read that right.
Developers will have the ability to create new social apps, which means the number that already exist could explode in the coming months and years. My guess is that they will be niche social apps, completely geared to one group of users based on location, interests, etc.
(Yes, I know that subreddits on Reddit already play this role. However, it’s one of the ugliest interfaces online.)
You’ll also be able to create your own rules and algorithms – or choose from recommended algorithms to control what shows up in your feed.
Content moderation will work similarly. People will be able to create their own moderation systems or subscribe to a system created by other people.
Doesn’t that sound nice?
I love the ultimate goal of Bluesky: create a social platform where you are in charge of your own experience, not what another person or algorithm thinks you should see in your feed.
Also, if this puts Facebook and Twitter out of business, I’ll try to hold back while rolling around in a glorious pile of schadenfreude. No promises.
Will Bluesky be a marketer’s gift or nightmare?
I’ll answer this question with another one:
How awesome would it be if you could stay in touch with everyone in your audience no matter what platforms they (or you) are on?
I’ll let Jay expand:
“As a creator, you’ve probably invested a lot of time building an audience on social platforms, but you always want to keep an email list of subscribers because email is an open protocol that a platform can’t take away from you. The promise of building an audience on apps built on atproto is that long term, it should become a protocol like email that lets you keep direct connections with people regardless of how the services mediating that relationship change.”
In other words, when I left Twitter, I wouldn’t have lost the thousands of connections I had there; I could take them with me on when using an atproto app.
As a marketer, this sounds amazing.
What are current users saying about it?
Jay Peters of The Verge loves it:
“My feed wasn’t littered with angry posts about HBO Max’s change to Max, for example — instead, the people I follow seemed most invested in maintaining Bluesky’s currently positive culture. Graber posted about why Bluesky hasn’t launched yet “against Jack’s* wishes” until the team builds out moderation tooling. On Friday, people were posting pictures of their bookshelves: “shelfies.” It was enjoyable to scroll.”
* Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter who is also a founder of Bluesky.
The fun theme was re-iterated on Vox by Shirin Ghaffary:
“On a technical level, Bluesky is definitely different from major social media apps, including Twitter. But the difference people really care about is simple: People using it are less mean and are having more fun (so far).”
And over on The San Francisco Standard, Josh Koehn wrote:
“From what I observed, Bluesky users are generally just making jokes and treating each other in the way they would like to be treated. While the golden rule mostly applies, by the end of my three-day experiment I came across a New York Times columnist and Bitcoin booster having an exhausting argument that was performative and stupid and tailor-made for social media, which, first and foremost, remains all about engagement.”
What do you think – intrigued or shrugging your shoulders?
I am definitely intrigued, but of course, I’m a marketer. If you’re a small business owner, what do you think? Based on what I shared above, would you be willing to try it out? Or is it just more noise?