Following news that Elon Musk plans to charge all Twitter users a subscription fee, Ed East, Global CEO and founder of global influencer agency Billion Dollar Boy, commented on the brand’s move and consumer reaction to the news, and the possible implications for ad spend and the wider social media landscape including for Meta’s Twitter rival, Threads.
“Musk’s intention of enforcing a paid-subscription model on Twitter could be the final nail in its coffin,” said East. “The constant upheaval at Twitter is toxic for the platform and its future profitability. The scale and frequency of change is unsettling for brands and consumers. However, among all of Musk’s seismic and controversial platform updates, this might prove to be the most significant one yet.
“While some consumers have fled the app in rejection of Musk’s vision for the platform, others have so far remained loyal in spite of the changes. Yet, a paid subscription model is likely to be universally disliked by a user base who will have a strong aversion to paying for a service that has, until now, always been free to use – especially when other similar platforms exist free-at-point-of-use.
“This could trigger a mass migration of Twitter users to alternative platforms, which in turn could accelerate a growing exodus of brands from the platform – ad investment has a habit of following consumers.
“The key beneficiary could be Meta’s Threads which initially saw a huge spike in users when it first launched this summer. Although engagement has since dropped off, Meta has been quietly working away at platform updates and this latest development at Twitter could encourage consumers to revisit Threads and discover a better user experience this time round. Time will tell whether it will be enough to reinvigorate active engagement on the platform. Brands and agencies will need to monitor the consumer reaction closely and be ready to transition to alternative platforms.
“Ironically, it seems Musk’s stubborn insistence on “free speech” could mean that Twitter is no longer free. It has led to a rise in divisive characters returning to the platform and a growing threat of hate speech, creating an unsafe brand environment and increasing the likelihood of a subscription-model to compensate for a shortfall in ad spend,” he concluded.