Signal’s Twitter strikes a chord with Gen Z and Millennials


Twitter followers of instant messaging app Signal have nearly doubled in the past two weeks amid a growing public backlash against rival WhatsApp.

Signal’s following on the microblogging platform has surged to over 465,000 as of January 24 from over 240,000 on January 10, according to estimates shared by influencer data analytics firm Qoruz, as it has made privacy the core of its communication strategy.

In an email response, Signal’s head of growth & communications, Jun Harada, attributed the increase to greater advocacy for privacy online and a collective realisation around the world that “Facebook really is an app for your data.”

Being the No. 1 downloaded app in the App Store in India means to me that the country has chosen that privacy matters, Signal Foundation’s executive chairman Brian Acton had told ET last week.

The messaging app’s approach of owning up to outages and making the topic of privacy relatable in its tweets have struck a chord with users, especially Gen Z and Millennials, according to marketing chiefs and advertising agency executives.

The trend of companies playing up privacy in their communication is also here to stay, senior digital marketing executives said.

Big Tech firms and startups in India’s payments space will use privacy practices as a competitive advantage and a key differentiator as the debate around it and awareness of the topic gets heated, said Ishtaarth Dalmia, AVP – strategy at digital agency Dentsu Webchutney.

For Signal, doubling down on ongoing trends — which experts term “moment marketing” — is key because it may not have the budget for mass marketing like Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

“You’re riding a wave that is naturally going around,” said Sai Ganesh, the marketing head of delivery service platform Dunzo, which is widely known for its pun filled takes on timely trends, including most recently, when the Bengaluru-based delivery startup had a field day when Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani proposed to change the name of dragon fruit to Kamalam.

Ganesh added that Signal’s approach of taking a stand is resonating with Gen Z and Millennials.

Its most liked and shared Tweets has been a response to Facebook showing up as the top result when people search for Signal in the App store, according to the company.

The tweet, part of which reads – “Facebook is probably more comfortable selling ads than buying them, but they’ll do what they have to do in order to be the top result when some people search for ‘Signal’ in the App Store” – received close to 70,000 likes and was re-tweeted about 13,000 times.

Ramkumar G, 27, a Signal loyalist and an MBA student from Puducherry, created a now-viral “David Vs. Goliath” themed ad touting Signal’s privacy to counter WhatsApp print ads that he said sounded like a corporate pamphlet.

“I wanted to write something clean and straightforward like I am talking to a person,” Ramkumar said. “People want normal things, and especially today, we want to feel connected to each other.”

Signal, however, faces its share of scepticism from privacy advocates around its ability to deal with the spread of misinformation comparable to its rival.

When contacted, Signal declined to comment on this.

Pooja Jauhari, CEO of full-service agency The Glitch, said the next set of privacy policy campaigns could go deeper by highlighting where the data sits and who it is shared with.

“Those policy documents, which are 5,000 pages long, which we just say ‘yes’ to and move on, if that is right up there as part of a campaign and very easily accessible to the consumer, I think that would be interesting to see,” she said


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