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Are TikTok and Other Emerging Channels Too Ephemeral to Track?

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Is TikTok Too Ephemeral to Track?

With over 1 billion users — and 105 million in North America alone — TikTok is a centerpiece of cross-generational conversations, pop culture references, and daily use. 

From a top-level view, it’s no wonder our dopamine-driven brains have registered accounts in droves. But if our primal drivers were the only explanation, TikTok wouldn’t have risen to the ranks. From 2018 to 2020, TikTok’s user base has grown by 800%. Its “it factor” shown in a 2021 Nielson study – a unique ability to inspire belonging, community, and authenticity –  is surpassing existing tech conglomerates who frankly are looking to replicate its design. 

Yet these unique, core characteristics that inspire rare possibilities to share information – i.e. quick videos, shareable music, catchy hooks, and clever audio overlays – have underpinned a new problem for brands, public figures, celebrities, and influencers gaining traction: How, and by which metrics and comparatives, do you track success when the content itself is quite ephemeral?

The rise of social listening technology

Tracking social success outside of in-platform metrics isn’t a new problem, so many tech companies outside of the platforms have already tried to solve it. In part, they have. 

“Developments in social listening technology have helped users understand how their profile or brand can be first in the digital landscape – the algorithms read captions, analyze user behavior, track performance metrics, and even summarize user sentiment based all tied up in a nice bow that you can actually benefit from.

Then audio content came along. 

 “Audio presents a fundamentally different set of challenges for moderation than text-based communication. It’s more ephemeral and it is harder to research and action,” said Discord’s chief legal officer, Clint Smith, referring to the channel’s moderation struggle around their newest Stage Channels audio feature.

The whole tech stack of audio-based social channels – TikTok, Instagram’s Reels, Clubhouse, Discord’s Stage Channels – have just started to research tracking solutions internally, but the tools for audio content moderation are lagging far behind social listening tools for text-based conversations. A few external companies are developing speech analysis API, but at the moment, there is no streamlined approach to audio conversations online.

The problems with audio moderation

Because of this, social platforms, their users, and their tech integrations don’t have much of a tracking system at all, particularly when it comes to managing problematic commentary or harassment. In these instances, platforms will often resort to blocking users over anything, which creates its own set of accessibility issues. 

For example according to Reuters, “Twitter keeps Spaces audio for 30 days or longer if there is an incident, Clubhouse says it deletes its recording if a live session ends without an immediate user report, and Discord does not record at all.”

Managing and tracking any text or image-based commentary, let alone problematic commentary online, isn’t an easy job for humans to start with. There’s a job title for this: Community Manager. But addressing problematic mentions, crisis moments, or something like adverse health events in ephemeral audio conversations? The job market is wide open.

Further, even if platforms create more monitoring parameters internally tomorrow, users and brands would still be left to their own devices to monitor their own content. 

So for people, influencers, and brands wanting to moderate content and social listen on audio platforms, the problem is three-fold:  

  • Audio content is, by nature, more ephemeral than written content. You may be able to transcribe something, but you’ll still lack extra cues, like the visual signals of video or accompanying text comments.
  • Few tech companies offer APIs to social listen to audio on new social apps such as TikTok or Discord. For the ones that do, they are still in the beta phase.  
  • Even if brands wanted to track audio manually, most companies lack the human power, resources, and time to do so.  

Not all bad

These overall symptoms of audio content are likely to increase in impact as platforms like TikTok grow and evolve. 

But it would behoove users to remember audio content’s benefits as we grapple with ephemerality and nuance – audio itself reigns superior in its ability to connect to an audience. Podcasts started just two decades ago, and now billions of people around the globe engage daily. In the U.S. alone, Insider Intelligence projects listenership to surmount to 144 billion by 2025. 

Whether you’re more convinced by TikTok and other audio-based channels’ inevitable challenges or its research-backed potential, there’s a reason so many are engaging, and from this view, the bandwagon doesn’t look so bad.

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Twitter Tests New Quick Boost Option for Tweets

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Twitter Tests New Quick Boost Option for Tweets

Here’s the difficult thing with Twitter no longer having a comms department – now, there’s nowhere to go to confirm info about the app’s latest updates and features, and where each is available, etc.

Case in point – this week, Twitter appears to have launched a new in-stream boost option for tweets, which provides a quick and easy way to promote your tweet without having to launch a full ad campaign.

As you can see in these screenshots, posted by Jonah Manzano (and shared by Matt Navarra), the new boost option would be available direct from a tweet. You’d simply tap through, select a budget, and you would be able to boost your tweet then and there.

Which seems to be new, but also seems familiar.

It’s sort of like Twitter’s Quick Promote option, but an even more streamlined version, with new visuals and a new UI for boosting a tweet direct from the details screen.

Tweet boost

So it does seem like a new addition – but again, with no one at Twitter to ask, it’s hard to confirm detail about the option.

But from what we can tell, this is a new Twitter ad process, which could provide another way to set an objective, a budget, and basic targeting parameters to reach a broader audience in the app.

Which could be good, depending on performance, and there may well be some tweets that you just want to quickly boost and push out to more people, without launching a full campaign.

It could also be a good way for Twitter to bring in a few more ad dollars, and it could be worth experimenting with to see what result you get, based on the simplified launch process.

If it’s available to you. We’d ask Twitter where this is being made available, but we can’t. So maybe you’ll see it in the app, maybe not.

Thus is the enigma of Twitter 2.0.



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Twitter faces lawsuit by advisory firm for $1.9 million in unpaid bills

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Twitter faces lawsuit by advisory firm for $1.9 million in unpaid bills

US-based advisory firm Innisfree M&A Incorporated sued Twitter on Friday in New York State Supreme Court, seeking about $1.9 million compensation for what it says are unpaid bills. Reuters File Photo

New York: US-based advisory firm Innisfree M&A Incorporated sued Twitter on Friday in New York State Supreme Court, seeking about $1.9 million compensation for what it says are unpaid bills after it advised the social media company on its acquisition by Elon Musk last year.

“As of December 23, 2022, Twitter remains in default of its obligations to Innisfree under the agreement in an amount of not less than $1,902,788.03,” the lawsuit said.

Twitter and a lawyer for Innisfree did not respond to queries.

Elon Musk in October closed the $44 billion deal announced in April that year and took over microblogging platform Twitter.

In January 2023, Britain’s Crown Estate, an independent commercial business that manages the property portfolio belonging to the monarchy, said that it had begun court proceedings against Twitter over alleged unpaid rent on its London headquarters.

Advertising spending on Twitter Inc dropped by 71% in December, data from an advertising research firm showed, as top advertisers slashed their spending on the social-media platform after Musk’s takeover.

The banks that had provided $13 billion in financing last year for the Tesla chief executive’s acquisition of Twitter abandoned plans to sell the debt to investors because of uncertainty around the social media company’s fortunes and losses, according to media reports.

Recently, Twitter made its first interest payment on a loan that banks provided to help finance Musk’s purchase of the social media company last year.

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Twitter Expands Access to Twitter Blue, Announces New Incentives for Signing Up

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Twitter Expands Access to Twitter Blue, Announces New Incentives for Signing Up

Twitter is making its next big push on Twitter Blue subscriptions, as Elon Musk and Co. look to build Twitter Blue into a more significant revenue driver for the app.

First off, Twitter has now expanded Twitter Blue access to Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, which will enable millions more Twitter users to potentially sign-up for a verification tick.

I mean, most probably won’t, going on what we’ve seen thus far, but it will likely swell Twitter Blue sign-ups by another few thousand, adding more cash to Twitter’s coffers.

Twitter’s also looking to further incentivize Blue sign-up by offering revenue share for ads shown in reply threads.

The idea here is that if users write interesting tweets, they would get compensated for the discussion they generate – but you need to be signed up to Twitter Blue to get it.

Elon hasn’t shared any further info on potential revenue split or process at this stage.

Twitter’s also looking to bring back an improved Spaces/podcast experience, as a Twitter Blue exclusive, while Musk has also hinted at allowing some users to avoid having to pay for basic API access, when it becomes unavailable next week, if they sign-up.

Oh, and Twitter’s gold checkmarks for business? Yeah, they’re likely going to be expensive if you want them.

Can’t imagine many brands are going to fork out $12,000 a year for a profile badge, along with $50 per staff member you want to add.

But maybe, Elon and Co. have some more tricks up their sleeve here, and they’ll eventually offer more incentives for businesses to sign-up.

But right now, that’s pretty steep.

And also, ‘legacy’ checkmarks will apparently be gone within the next few months.

All of these elements combined could juice Twitter Blue take-up, though it’s still hard to see it becoming the major contributor to Twitter’s revenue as Elon envisions.

At present, based on third-party tracking, the new Twitter Blue program looks to have around 300,000 subscribers, bringing in an extra $2.4 million per month, and $7.2 million per quarter.

Which is pretty good – but again, it’s still a long way from where Twitter wants subscription revenue to be.

When initially outlining his Twitter 2.0 reformation plans, Musk said that he wants to make subscription revenue around 50% of Twitter’s overall intake. That would serve two purposes – if the majority of users sign-up, Twitter can then use Twitter Blue as a form of ‘payment verification’, meaning that those accounts that don’t have a blue tick are increasingly likely to be bots. It would also reduce Twitter’s reliance on ads, which would give Musk more freedom to make moderation decisions as he likes, without considering potential ad placement concerns.

But in order to do this, Twitter needs a lot more users to sign up.

Twitter’s revenue in Q2 2022, the last time it publicly reported its numbers, was $1.18 billion, meaning that Twitter Blue would need to be bringing in around $590 million per quarter to meet that 50% goal.

Which is about 81x what Twitter Blue is currently bringing in, while at 300k sign-ups, that’s also only 0.12% of Twitter’s active user base that’s currently paying for a blue tick.

That’s likely why Twitter is making a new push on the program, in a bid to jack those numbers up, and maybe, in combination with businesses that do end up forking over $1k per month, it could become a more significant element in Twitter’s revenue make-up.

But 50% of revenue still seems like a lofty goal.

It’s also still confusing as to why anyone would pay, because as soon as you do, you’re devaluing the whole point of the verification checkmark in the first place.

The initial blue ticks were designed to delineate noteworthy users and organizations, which Twitter didn’t always get right, but for the most part, you knew that a blue tick account was likely someone who had relevant, authoritative things to say.   

Now, it’s just anyone who can afford it, and with Twitter looking to increase the reach of tweets from Blue accounts, that also means that the app is increasingly becoming more ‘pay to play’ for regular users, with the blue ticks becoming increasingly meaningless from a functional perspective.

And the logic behind them becomes more diluted with every person who signs up. Eventually, all the blue checkmark will mean is that this person can afford to pay – and who cares? Why do they need a blue tick, from a user perspective, to show that they have enough money to spend?

It sort of feels like the NFT trend of 2021, but worse, because it’s replacing an existing system that did serve a purpose.

In any event, Twitter’s not backing away from its Blue subscription plan, and its hopes of maximizing revenue intake, in any way it can, to keep the company afloat.

Which, given the extra debt it’s been saddled with in the Elon deal, is even tougher than ever – but maybe, in combination with everything else, subscriptions will form enough of an extra income stream to meaningfully contribute to its plans.



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