Have you ever wondered how much an entire social media platform might be worth?
Last week we found out as Twitter announced that they accepted an offer of $44 Billion from Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, to take the company private. This is huge news and it is no surprise that this transaction has created quite the buzz among digital marketers. What does the world’s richest man have planned for this influential social platform and how will this impact digital marketing? Here are 5 proposals for Twitter that he’s mentioned so far.
Loosen Up Content Rules In The Name of Free Speech
Twitter currently bans harassment, abuse and posts that wish physical harm to someone. It also has other restrictions in place like prohibiting misinformation about COVID-19. As a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” Musk believes that social networks should not remove comments because, even if offensive, they are still legal. It is likely that he will make changes to loosen the reins on these bans, which would certainly be a double-edged sword. Experts who study social networks are concerned that this change could encourage harassers, trolls and others who abuse the platform to target people.
Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy.
Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 25, 2022
Develop an Edit Button So Users Can Update or Change Their Tweets
The people have (repeatedly) asked and Elon Musk has been listening. One of the most requested changes to the platform from users has been to implement an edit button. Musk has expressed support in allowing people to change what their tweets say, but this proposal has since stirred debate among academics, journalists and other heavy users of the platform. Though the simple benefit is clear, the biggest concern is that this change could be used to cover up abuse or manipulate people. There is a difference between fixing a spelling error and completely reframing an opinion.
Make Twitter’s Algorithm Open To The Public
A little over a month ago, Musk tweeted at the co-founder and former CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, stating that Twitter’s algorithm should be open source. He later followed up with a poll that gathered over 1.1 million votes from Twitter users, in which 82.7% agreed. Advocates that desire more transparency from social media platforms have stated that this openness would be a great step in the right direction, while others argue that the “how’s” and “why’s” of viral posts is far too complex for anyone to understand anyway. However, Musk seems to support placing Twitter’s algorithm on places like GitHub, a site popular with programmers for sharing computer code.
The choice of which algorithm to use (or not) should be open to everyone https://t.co/o2DkSTWW0O
— jack⚡️ (@jack) March 25, 2022
Crackdown on Scammy Bots and Fake Accounts
If you haven’t seen spam or bots on a social media platform, we’d certainly be amazed! Prior to the transaction, Elon Musk tweeted: “If our twitter bid succeeds, we will defeat the spam bots or die trying!” Although Twitter already has strong rules against spam in place, Musk intends to strengthen its defenses against bots and fake accounts.
Ditch The Advertisements
About 90% of Twitter’s revenue currently comes from advertising. However, the company has struggled to attract advertisers to the platform and Musk intends to do away with ads and shift Twitter’s revenue towards a subscription model. The platform has already taken some strides in that direction by introducing Twitter Blue, a premium service that costs $2.99 a month for additional features. It will be interesting to see how he transforms this further.
The Future of Marketing on Twitter
The truth of the above proposals is that they are just that: proposed ideas. How much influence Elon Musk has over these changes and which of them are actually implemented remain to be seen. From a digital marketing standpoint, it is usually more common to see more restrictions these days rather than less. Though it may be interpreted that this makes things easier for marketers, that may not be the case. If anything, looser restrictions and no options for paid advertisements lend to the need for more intense community monitoring and more clever and engaging content.
One thing is for certain–changes are coming and Musk has big plans.
Thoughts from the #TBTeam:
“We’ll see if Elon’s agenda is self-serving or beneficial to Twitter in terms of free speech. Business wise, I see it as a boom or bust sort of situation. He could easily bring in new features, make it more engaging, and integrate the enhanced communication functions that we now see in messaging services. But I wouldn’t be surprised if his attempts to make twitter more profitable turn off fans and people start seeking a different outlet for bite-size information. We’re almost definitely going to see some new advertising opportunities within the next 6 months be announced.” –Forrest Old, Director, Organic Search
“Musk has a record of accomplishing things that have never been done before. Removing bots from Twitter and creating a place where free speech can safely be spoken was clearly an issue for Twitter that they could not solve. I think Musk will solve both of these issues in time even if it pisses some people off in the process.” –Benjamin Johnstone, Director, Website Development
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