So what’s the next thing in store at Elon Musk’s new Twitter experiment?
After outlining a plan to charge users $8 for verification, which, in Musk’s view, will help to eliminate bots on the platform (because all the real humans will be verified), Musk is now looking at other money-making ventures to claw back some of his $44 billion investment.
And they’re… well…
Pay to Play Long-Form Video
According to a report from The Washington Post, Twitter’s team is currently exploring a new paywalled video approach, which would enable creators and publishers to charge a fee to let people watch long-form video in the app.
As per The Post:
“According to an internal email describing the new video feature, which has not yet been announced, “When a creator composes a tweet with a video, the creator can then enable the paywall once the video has been added to the tweet.” They can then choose from a preset list of prices, such as $1, $2, $5 or $20.”
The idea is that this would facilitate direct revenue generation from longer-form video content in the app – though it may also lean into another idea that Twitter has explored in the past, but backed away from due to various concerns.
Back in August, The Verge reported that Twitter, at one stage, had explored the idea of monetizing adult content on the platform, by enabling adult content creators to sell OnlyFans-style paid subscriptions, with Twitter keeping a share of the revenue.
Twitter shelved the idea when it discovered that its systems ‘cannot accurately detect child sexual exploitation and non-consensual nudity at scale’, so it would be taking a massive risk in monetizing such content, in that it could also, inadvertently, end up monetizing illegal material.
There were also brand safety concerns, in that giving the green light to porn would cause major potential problems for ad placement.
It seems that, under Musk, Twitter may be willing to give it a shot either way – though with many advertisers already pausing their activities on the platform, and agencies advising clients to reconsider, till they get a clearer idea of Twitter’s new policies, it could be problematic.
I suspect this will go through some more iterations before shipping – but then again, Elon seems to be pushing to ship stuff ASAP.
Charging for DMs?
Twitter’s also considering a new ad option – paid DMs.
exploring more on this. if you could pay to DM someone…
• what would be an ideal experience?
• how could we do this right on the bird app?
• have you ever paid to connect with someone(s)? What was that like? painpoints? how could it be done better?
let us know ???????????????????????? https://t.co/SZvawGLgvj
— Danny Singh (@Mr_DannySingh) November 2, 2022
As you can see in this exchange, after leading app researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered a reference to ‘Paid DMs’ in the back-end code, Twitter’s Danny Singh replied, acknowledging that Twitter is exploring a potential ad option for DMs.
Which is not overly surprising, I guess. Meta is also currently exploring paid and business DM options, due to the rise in users sharing content via direct message, as opposed to posting to their social feed. Meta sees his as a transitional trend, and as such, it’s working to find new ways to monetize both Messenger and WhatsApp to capitalize on this usage shift.
On Twitter, it seems less guided by trends, and more by Musk’s desire to monetize all the things as fast as he can. But even so, there could potentially be uses for a paid DM tool which would add your promoted message into a target users’ main inbox, as opposed to the ‘Requests’ folder – much like how LinkedIn InMail campaigns work.
Bringing Back Banned Users
Of course, one of the biggest questions being put to Musk is when he’s going to bring back Trump.
In the past, Musk has shared various criticisms of Twitter’s approach in banning the former President, and the expectation, especially from right-wing commentators, has been that Musk will allow Trump to return, if he wants.
But Musk has put that on hold for the moment.
Twitter will not allow anyone who was de-platformed for violating Twitter rules back on platform until we have a clear process for doing so, which will take at least a few more weeks
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 2, 2022
That process relates to Musk’s previously announced ‘Content Moderation Council’, which, according to Musk, ‘will include representatives with widely divergent views, which will certainly include the civil rights community and groups who face hate-fueled violence’.
The approach will essentially take the decision out of Musk’s hands in isolation, and it’ll be interesting to see how the new Council views such, and what that means for Elon’s supporters, many of whom have aligned with his ‘free speech’ ethos.
In addition to these, Musk is also, seemingly, looking into ways to gamify Twitter and incentivize engagement, while various other money making tweet schemes are also being floated by Musk and his confidantes.
One thing’s for sure, Twitter is going to go through a period of rapid change, very soon, and it’ll be interesting to see what comes out the other side of that. Will it be a strengthened platform, built on more solid financial foundations, or will it become a shell of what it was, as more users look to other social options?
Musk seems confident in the potential
Twitter is simply the most interesting place on the Internet. That’s why you’re reading this tweet right now.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 2, 2022
He’s banking on that being true, because if he’s going to charge people to get things that they’ve thus far been able to access for free, he better hope that they really want them.