Twitter’s $99 bet

Posted by kdow on Aug 1, 2017 9:17:27 AM

Twitter is now testing a $99 subscription to promote tweets automatically. This means, as a business, your tweets will automatically be promoted through the network as an advert, for a SaaS pricing model that’s easy to manage.

On the surface, this is quite a good idea. It’s easy for businesses to lock into relatively cheap contracts. It’s painless. And it won’t require a lot of marketing know-how, thought, effort or even third party agencies to manage.

But Twitter isn’t a platform for businesses. It’s a platform for people to broadcast what they’re thinking in a stream of consciousness manner. And it’s a platform for people to interact with each other.

My fear with this $99/mo subscription to turn tweets into ads is that Twitter streams become endless promoted messages from brands. Moreover, what if I’m a brand that wants to go all-in with a big campaign? Am I going to have to compete with the endless stream of messages from other brands competing for a fleeting glance of a tweet?

And my fear is weird because I use Twitter in an old-school way. I’ve talked a bunch about Twitter, and that’s due to my being on the service 10 years. I only interact with it through third party (paid-for) apps (namely Tweetbot), which obfuscates my ability to see ads.

The problem Twitter has is that it’s not really solving any real problems. No one truly needs it. It’s transactional in the sense that it can be easily disposed of by a user. The bigger problem is that interactions and users are key, but Twitter decided to not be a community (in the Reddit sense), and decided to be a big business with thousands of employees globally.

Another thing I’ve spoken about a lot is IRC. And I reckon IRC, with a nice client in front of it, could easily replace Twitter for most users. Hell, hashtags (without ChanServ) and usernames with NickServ are the basis for the whole thing! Same goes for Slack, but their UX is really nice (though deteriorating with the addition of so many bot services). Twitter’s UX, though, is hyper confusing for most new users. It’s hard to see what the point is for newbies. And for oldies like me, the services stifling issues are that it’s pandering to the wrong audiences, and not innovating enough (or at all).