New social media app Bluesky: is it just a flash in the pan, or will this decentralized approach to social networking prove valuable and sticky to users over time? As Twitter continues to evolve under Elon Musk’s leadership and shifting algorithms govern content visibility on other apps like TikTok and Instagram, many marketers and tech enthusiasts are expressing interest in Bluesky’s decentralized, open-source approach to social.
Read on to understand more about the new app, its developers’ goals for a more connected social media ecosystem, and how the marketing community is responding to its growing popularity.
What is Bluesky?
Bluesky was first introduced by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in 2019 as a project to essentially connect different social media platforms together. Using an open-source framework, Bluesky would allow users to more openly connect and share information across different channels. This concept would ideally be adopted by major social platforms, and would pave the way for greater transparency, privacy, and user control over online media.
However, this innovative technology, now called the AT Protocol, is still in development. Users buzzing about Bluesky today are usually talking about its app, which was launched in February 2023. Though Bluesky is no longer connected to Twitter, the new app similarly allows users to share short snippets of text with their connections.
The main difference between Twitter and Bluesky is that Bluesky was built on a decentralized social network protocol, the authenticated transport (AT) protocol, which enables new ways for users to transparently communicate with each other. Bluesky’s decentralized infrastructure also paves the way for users to eventually create their own individually-operated apps and communities, and easily circulate key data between the two.
With Bluesky, users have the ability to port over social media data to another network, unlike Twitter and the other major social media platforms, which are largely siloed ecosystems and management-led, rather than community-led.
Community buzz surrounding Bluesky
Similarly to the Clubhouse craze in 2021, Bluesky has become a hot topic among marketers and techies, and many of them share their feedback on other social sites. The beta version of Bluesky available today is invite-only. To join the platform, anyone can sign up for the app’s lengthy waitlist or receive an invite code from a user already registered. Registered users receive one code per week.
BlueSky invite codes proving yet again, that people love being "invited" to semi-exclusive things.— Camilla (@camillionaire_m) April 19, 2023
Haven't seen a viral rollout take form like this since Clubhouse days.
Now the hard part -- is it sticky. @bluesky
Users are yearning for invites left and right as those on the platform share their first impressions of its features. The exclusive Bluesky community is described as small yet mighty; community consultant and strategist Rosie Sherry boasts an impressive 25k follower count on Twitter yet sees higher levels of engagement on Bluesky.
Me, a social media manager reading posts on Bluesky about how glad people are that brands aren't on the platform yet... pic.twitter.com/XxkwY8Hu8r— Jon-Stephen Stansel (@jsstansel) May 3, 2023
Other users express disappointment with the changes to Twitter’s content visibility and home feeds in recent months, and view Bluesky’s promise of increased algorithm control as a potential solution. Check out this interaction between social media professionals Brisa Ramirez and Jonathan Gabriel:
You should definitely come to Bluesky if you get a chance!— 🟣 Jonathan Gabriel | he/him (@jongabriel) May 2, 2023
This transition back to community values and connection presents an interesting question: if Bluesky does grow into a space that users are consistently active on, where will brand accounts fit in? And does the lack of brands (and resulting lack of advertisements) on the app add to its appeal? Social media director Jon-Stephen Stansel captures what many social media managers might be thinking about this in a Twitter meme.
I have 126 followers on Bluesky and I get more engagement there than here on Twitter 😂— 🌈 Rosie Sherry (@rosiesherry) April 26, 2023
Though Bluesky functions like Twitter in many ways, its developers aren’t necessarily prioritizing the app’s features, design, and UX. It’s more of an avenue to connect on now, with the overarching idea being decentralized social media. Bluesky does, however, allow users to use website domains as their usernames on the app (with a simple verification check).
Web3 expert Camilla McFarland points out that the excitement around Bluesky may largely be due to its exclusivity, and the app risks fizzling out like Clubhouse did without the right strategy.
A Blue Sky invite code is like a ticket to the Oscars but better! 💙☁️— Maile (@MailePRMedia) May 5, 2023
Following many platform changes to Twitter in recent months, including a new verification process for accounts, some users appear more open to trying alternative platforms like Bluesky to share content. However, platforms like Twitter and Instagram have years of experience, a proven use case and billions of active users, many of whom are loyal to these channels and the audiences they’ve built through them.
The Bluesky app has quickly amassed a community of over 50,000 users as of early May 2023, and dialogue around the new platform will likely continue to grow as more users receive invite codes. As a marketer, it may be worthwhile to seek out your own access to the app to stay up-to-date on emerging trends that may impact the social media landscape.