Bluesky at night, is a PR’s delight

Are you one of the first people to get a Bluesky account?

By the end of April 2023 Bloomberg reported that there were 50,000 Bluesky accounts. I’ve seen unconfirmed claims that it’s now around 85,000 [Scratch that – this site shows you the number in real time, it’s 91,632 at 14:22 in the UK on 25 May]. It’s still invite only so the hype is driven by FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and the fact it’s the brainchild of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey so most of the early users were big name tech founders, funders etc.

As it’s not even at 100,000 users yet it’s still very exclusive. It’s claimed there are 360,00+ downloads of the iOS app alone and the waitlist tops two million. Bluesky invite codes are even on sale on eBay, some with astounding price tags. The invite only approach isn’t just about creating artificial FOMO but also ensures that every new Bluesky user already has at least one existing contact to connect, and because of how networks and communities work usually a lot more.

I’m lucky as I got my Bluesky account – @stuartbruce.biz – in early May (thanks to Microsoft’s Paul Fabretti). My initial impression is that it’s much friendlier and more like Twitter than Mastodon (the longer established pretender to Twitter’s crown). Despite there only being 91k+ users I immediately found people I know, and people I don’t know but am interested in. A lot of them are the same people that were early adopters on Twitter (I’ve been on Twitter since 2 January 2007).

At the moment it’s hard to know what if anything will replace Twitter. It’s also starting to look like rumours of Twitter’s imminent demise might have been premature. I’ve written this as a quick guide to Bluesky for PR and comms.

What is Bluesky Social?

Visually, Bluesky looks similar to Twitter. Which isn’t surprising as when it was originally conceived in 2019 it was a side project to improve Twitter. In early 2022 Blusky became a standalone project.

Bluesky has a ‘skyline’ instead of Twitter’s timeline and tweets are skeets. It has both Android and iOS apps, and as of last week has a web interface. The web app makes Bluesky much easier to use as it’s far more practical for actually posting content, as opposed to just consuming it on mobile.

It’s early days so Bluesky is still building its features. One notable omission for me is Lists. On Twitter I depend on lists and never (or rarely) look at my main feed. I’m not following enough people on Bluesky yet to make it unmanageable, but I can see it becoming so within just a few weeks. Other features still missing from Bluesky include direct messages and the ability to upload videos.

There is a key technical difference between Bluesky and Twitter and that’s ‘decentralisation’. It’s quite complex to explain. It means that the algorithm that controls what users see isn’t centrally managed (like Twitter’s AI-powered central algorithm), but enables users to tag posts as say ‘sexist’ and others can subscribe to those tags to block posts. The other part of decentralisation is eventually Bluesky will be part of interconnected social networks, all independent but running on the same principles. It will be possible to move your accounts between networks. But this is all ‘bluesky’ thinking at the moment as it’s the intention, but you can’t actually do it yet.

How do I get started on Bluesky?

Once you’ve got your coveted Bluesky invite code then you need to set it up. It’s simple and straightforward and so like Twitter that I simply copied my details across – photo, banner/cover image and biography.

The easiest way to find interesting people to follow is to simply look at who the person that invited you follows, and who follows them. Then repeat the process with people you know from both their lists.

You can also use the search function. Once you’ve added accounts then you’ll see all the posts of accounts you’re following in chronological order. None of this pesky algorithm nonsense where the app owner thinks it knows better than you. There’s also a ‘What’s hot’ tab for posts that are getting more engagement.

How safe is Bluesky?

This is a tricky one to answer as it’s still new. One issue for brands is the invite only approach means it’s hard for them to jump in straight away to secure their user name and the user names of senior staff. That’s something I always advise my clients to do.

Then there is the ‘nudity’ problem. Or so I’m told. I’ve seen people expressing concern over problematic content on Bluesky. All I can say is that in a couple of weeks of using it I’ve seen the usual ubiquitous pictures of cats and dogs – even sharks – but no nudity.

To mix my metaphors I’d say jump into the clear blue water as it’s warm and inviting.

Do you know any Bluesky hacks or tips?

Use your own domain on Bluesky

If you have your own domain then you can connect it to your Bluesky account using a simple TXT entry in your DNS. If you didn’t understand that last sentence then I’d advise you to speak to whoever manages your website and domain name as although it’s very easy, the consequences of messing with your DNS and getting it wrong can be dangerous.

I’ve done this so my Bluesky name is now @stuartbruce.biz instead of @stuartbruce.bsky.social. I haven’t seen many people set this up yet. One exception is Drew Benvie (a fellow early adopter) who has set up his company @battenhall.com enabling him to have the handle @drew.battenhall.com.

Connect other apps on Bluesky

At the moment there isn’t a lot you can connect to Bluesky. One of the first apps to enable connections was news app Flipboard where I publish a version of my PR Futurist newsletter.

Who should I follow on Bluesky in the UK?

I’ve compiled this UK-centric list of Bluesky accounts for when you finally get your invite. It’s an eclectic mix of public relations and communications folk, journalists, media, techies etc,

It’s notable that I haven’t seen any UK politicians active on Bluesky yet. This might change once I have some invites as I think some of my more tech and society savvy political friends might welcome invites.

Let me know any I’ve missed.

Journalists

  • @beccacaddy.bsky.social – journalist and author on tech, science and the future.
  • @sbisson.com – freelance journalist and Microsoft expert
  • @mikebutcher.bsky.social – editor-at-large, Techcrunch.
  • @martinsfp.bsky.social – Martin SFP Bryant – editor and founder of PreSeed Now and on Geekout
  • @suellewellyn.bsky.social – former BBC journalist turned social media trainer.
  • @zsk.bsky.social – Zoe Kleinman – BBC technology editor
  • @benjackson.com – senior sub-editor at The Times in London.
  • @jamestitcomb.bsky.social – The Telegraph tech editor
  • @timbradshaw.bsky.social – FT global tech correspondent
  • @katebevan.com – UK-based tech journalist
  • @mshannahmurphy.bsky.social – FT tech journalist – a Brit in San Francisco
  • @nickeaney.bsky.social – Pink News managing editor
  • @marypcbuk.bsky.social – UK-based tech journalist
  • @stokel.bsky.social – Chris Stokel-Walker – UK-based tech journalist
  • @davey.bsky.social – Davey Alba – Bloomberg tech reporter
  • @oremus.bsky.social – Will Oremus – Washington Post tech reporter
  • @paris.nyc – Paris Martineau – The Information tech reporter
  • @taylorlorenz.bsky.social – tech journalist
  • @geoffreyfowler.bsky.social – Washington Post tech columnist
  • @jaypeters.bsky.social – The Verge news editor

PR and communications

  • @stuartbruce.biz – me of course!
  • @paulfabretti.bsky.social – British guy now in the USA doing communications for Microsoft
  • @jangles.bsky.social – Neville Hobson – communicator, blogger and podcaster
  • @drew.battenhall.com – founder of Battenhall and fellow early adopter (a rarity in PR!)
  • @fxshaw.com – Frank X Shaw – Microsoft comms supremo
  • @chrisreed.bsky.social
  • @leongreen.bsky.social
  • @rmathew.bsky.social

Politicians, academics, celebrities and interesting folk

  • @aoc.bsky.social – the AOC – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – Democrat Congresswoman for New York and social media superstar
  • @ocasio-cortez.house.gov – a place holder for AOC’s official account with the verified house.gov domain
  • @emmakennedy.bsky.social – author, screenwriter, comedian – all round good person
  • @brucedaisley.bsky.social – used to head up that other social app in Europe
  • @schwarzenegger.bsky.social – needs no introduction
  • @emilybell.bsky.social – Professor Columbia Journalism School, ex-Guardian
  • @chrismessina.me – if you don’t know already then #WhyFollowHim?

Other UK folk

  • @clairehopkin.bsky.social – A part of Wales in Dubai
  • @timholt.bsky.social – wonderful photos of the Lake District

Media and organisations

  • @washingtonpost.com
  • @bloombergnews.bsky.social
  • @techcrunch.bsky.social 
  • @bylinetimes.bsky.social – UK-based reader funded news and comment
  • @battenhall.com – London HQ PR firm

Want to know more?

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