Ever since Elon Musk let that sink in the Twitter HQ the raging debate has been, on his end, on how to make it more profitable. And the first order of business was charging Twitter subscribers a monthly fee to maintain their verification badge. The initial offer was US$20 a month. This is more than a premium Netflix subscription – US$11.99 or a subscription to Canva – US$12.99.
Twitter is currently planning to charge $19.99 for the new Twitter Blue subscription. Under the current plan, verified users would have 90 days to subscribe or lose their blue checkmark.The Verge
With an estimated 400 000 verified Twitter subscribers that’s some decent revenue for a start. But US$20 for most seems quite unreasonable. It’s an investment a lot of people would have to justify before making. In a poll done by another Twitter user with almost 2 million participants, a healthy 81% voted to not pay anything for the verified badge.
Musk had to let this sink in as well and he later responded with his final offer of US$8 a month for the badge and also he says that “Price adjusted by country proportionate to purchasing power parity”. So we may see regional pricing similar to other services like Spotify where the individual plan costs US$3 in Zimbabwe and US$10 in the US.
What do I get if I give Twitter my US$8?
Elon also tweeted a couple of changes to how the verification badge will now work once you pay for it.
- Priority treatment in mentions, replies, and searches where verified subscribers will show up higher on the list than non-verified subscribers.
- The ability to post longer videos and audio. Current limit is 2 minutes 20 seconds.
- 50% fewer ads (If I’m paying I would prefer NO ADS)
- Paywall bypass for publishers willing to work with Twitter.
- Secondary tags for public figures. It’s currently active for politicians but will come to other public figures like Academics, Bots, and Scientists. (Linkedin vibes)
- Reward/pay content creators
Why this makes sense for Twitter Financially
When you look at businesses like Meta which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, Alphabet which owns Google and YouTube and ByteDance which owns TikTok, they are all monetized through ads. And how it works is the platforms have an audience and businesses are looking for audiences to sell to.
So businesses will pay Meta, Alphabet, and ByteDance to have their ads shown to as much an audience as they are willing to pay for. Also, within these platforms as well, content creators can pay these same companies so that their channels can be shown to as many subscribers on that platform as they are willing to pay for. So a double bubble of revenue.
You also have content creators producing attractive content that attracts more subscribers to the platform they are producing content on and keeping that audience on the platform by regularly producing engaging content. The platforms then offer partner programs that reward creators for keeping the platform active, engaging, and ripe with fresh content.
Twitter on the other hand had not doubled down on this. They introduced ads where businesses can pay for their ads to be shown to as many Twitter subscribers as they are willing to pay for but that was it. Essentially a social network site that sometimes does ads.
For the verification badge, you did not need to pay anything. You just had to meet the 3 criteria they set.
The blue Verified badge on Twitter lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic. To receive the blue badge, your account must be authentic, notable, and active.Twitter Help Centre
This will cease to be the case anymore as anyone with US$8 a month will be able to get the verification badge. As of 2019, about 400 000 subscribers had the verification badge. Now considering that total subscribers are 396.5 million and about 10% of these users are responsible for 92% of the tweets, that’s 39.6 million active users.
These active users are the ones most likely to pay for the badge and if they do it will equate to US$316 million in added revenue. Enough to offset their 2021 loss by US$95.39 million. And speaking of losses, Twitter only posted a positive net income twice in the past decade, in 2018 and 2019. It seems like a drastic change but the ship is sinking. And Elon wants to change that.
Is this the beginning of the end of the Twitter we know?
For the most part, it looks like it. Some definitions of certain elements of Twitter are going to change. We will definitely start seeing more ads, something YouTube recently implemented. We will begin to see longer videos and audio which can be a welcome change for content creators on the platform. The character limit can also experience some changes, all of which will start morphing Twitter from a social platform to a content creation one.
The Verification badge was built to it being a measure of the Authenticity, Notability, and Activity of a Twitter subscriber. In a way, it got its respect because it was earned. Now will soon be able to get it for 8 bucks. And when this goes live, it will be less of a source I can trust and more of a flashy way of looking cool on the platform with the perks of preferential treatment.
Think of the wealth of parody accounts that will be able to get the verified badge. There will be so much chaos and confusion as to which accounts are authentic and which ones aren’t. Something that Elon dismissed as “That already happens very frequently”.
But it also means that content creators with a following on this platform will soon be able to add Twitter as a source of income through partner rewards. A lot is going to change. Whether it’s good or bad is something only time will tell. For now, I leave you with some parting words from the Twitter Compliant Hotline Manager.