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How Will Twitter Make Money Under Elon Musk? A Look at the Currently Proposed Options

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How Will Twitter Make Money Under Elon Musk? A Look at the Currently Proposed Options

So after week two of the Elon Musk Twitter drama, we’re left in a state of limbo, as we await the final approvals for the deal, which will eventually make Musk the head honcho at a private Twitter, which may or may not run ads anymore, may or may not allow all types of racist, homophobic and abusive speech, and may or may not be able to, one day, actually make money, despite these changes.

And we have little to go on right now as to how it will impact the company, and the platform as we know it. What we do know is that Twitter employees are increasingly nervous about their jobs, and the business that they may end up working for under Musk, while we’ve also had some slight hints as to how Musk plans to change the app.

To be clear, Twitter is not a charity, and after spending $44 billion on the app, Elon Musk will be looking for ways to maximize Twitter’s revenue intake, and recoup at least some of that cost. In a recent interview, Musk said that doesn’t care about the economics of the deal at all, and that his driving mission is to run “a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive”.

But with huge debt, and accumulating interest, Musk has to make money too, and the bull case for the acquisition is that Musk, being the visionary that he is, sees something that others don’t, and can clear a pathway to optimal success for the platform – even though most market analysts see no viable pathway to turning any significant profit from the app.

So how will Musk do it?

Here are the areas that Musk is reportedly looking at right now – and to be clear, Musk has come up with these proposals without internal knowledge of the company and its current make up.

  • Increasing subscriptions – Musk is reportedly looking to build Twitter Blue into a registration layer, of sorts, with users paying a monthly fee to get a verification tick that confirms that they’re an actual, real person. That could better enable Twitter to tackle bots (as it would make running bot farms cost prohibitive), while it would also ensure a level of transparency in the app, because you would know, based on these new forms of authentication tags, that you’re interacting with a real person, who’s registered their contact and payment details in the app. The economics could be difficult – if Musk were to charge $1 per month for this, that would bring in $229m per month/$2.7b per annum, if the current number of active users stick around, and aren’t all bots. You’d have to assume that quite a few won’t end up paying, which brings this down a lot, and would reduce Twitter’s revenue intake significantly, if this were the only way Twitter could make money in future. For reference, Twitter made $5.08b in revenue in 2021.
  • Taking Twitter private – Of course, some of that revenue pressure is lessened if Twitter goes private, as it would no longer be beholden to shareholders who expect to see revenue rise by a defined, acceptable amount. Musk’s view is that Twitter needs to go private to ensure that it can make decisions free from the pressure of outside forces, enabling it to truly become a platform of free speech. The problem with that, of course, is that advertisers will be less comfortable placing ads alongside potentially offensive content – but that then leads into the next stage of Musk’s grand Twitter plan.
  • No more ads – This would obviously be the biggest impact from a social media marketing perspective – Musk has said that Twitter should no longer run ads at all to remain truly independent. That then also means that Twitter would need to rely on alternate sources of income, and with ads making up 98% of the company’s revenue, that’s a big hole to fill. Part of Musk’s thinking here may also be that Twitter can cut costs by also removing all of the staff that work on its ad elements, which would be a major cost saving – but even so, if Musk wants to get close to making Twitter profitable, when factoring in its operating expenses versus income, it’ll be a big shortfall to make up. It’s difficult to see how this would be possible, but maybe, Musk knows something that we don’t.
  • Charging for tweet embeds – This seems like a bit more of a stretch, but Musk has also reportedly floated the idea of charging websites for embeds of tweets from verified users, with the money potentially going back to the users themselves. That would align with Musk’s push to get more high profile users tweeting more often – maybe, if they can make a few bucks from tweeting, that could act as a motivator to get them sharing more in the app, which could spark more engagement with their fans, and generate more in-app activity overall. Of course, the counter is that people could just screenshot tweets instead, though there are ways that Musk could make tweets copyright protected, which would be even easier if he were to take this next step.
  • Make Twitter ‘Pay to play’ for users – This is a more radical move – and to be clear, Musk himself has not proposed this idea, as such, just yet. But aligning with the concept of charging users for a verified user tick (different to the current blue tick for high profile users), Musk could look to make all users pay, or they simply wouldn’t be able to use the app. Your first instinct to this is that no one will pay, right? People can just use Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat instead – so why would anyone pay to simply log on and read tweets? I thought that too, but upon further reflection, I do think that Twitter is a critical platform for many journalists, political and other media types that use tweets to stay up with the latest news. That’s why Twitter is so influential, despite having only a tenth of the active users that Facebook does – while its audience may be smaller, the people that do use Twitter are generally among the most active in their respective industries, and following the latest tweets enables them to lead trends, re-distribute the latest news to their audiences off-platform, remain in-the-know, etc. As such, I suspect that many of them would pay, and if Musk were to lock tweets down, that would mean that they’re no longer publicly accessible, making it much easier to implement charges for tweet embeds, as well as any other re-use of on-platform content.
  • Cost-cutting – The other key area that Musk is exploring is cost-cutting, which again aligns with the above points, in that Twitter could cut costs significantly if it no longer ran ads. Twitter spent $1.7b last year on sales and marketing and general admin costs, while it also spent an additional $1.2b on research and development, and $2b on infrastructure. Without ads, those costs could come down a lot, and if Musk can reduce those outgoings in a big way, he could, theoretically, make enough money from his subscription proposals to generate positive cash flow for the app over time, while also enabling it to remain independent, and therefore better able to run with a ‘free speech’ approach.  

Again, Musk has made these pitches in meetings to secure funding for his Twitter bid, and without internal insight into how the company is currently run, and what’s truly possible within the current structure, or within any future re-shaping of the business.

But it does seem like this is where Musk is likely to make his big changes, especially given that Twitter doesn’t have a lot of other paths to take, based on historical performance.

But there may be additional opportunities that we’re not seeing, and the general view is that Twitter has underperformed over time, with even current CEO Parag Agrawal noting in an all-hands meeting this week that:

I could have done things differently. I think about this a lot. I feel accountable for my actions I’ve taken over the last decade. I’ve only been in this job for four months, but I’ve been at the company for a decade. And yes, we could have done better. Should have done better.”

Maybe, now is the time that Twitter can make those big changes, with more freedom as an independent company – and again, many have pointed to Musk’s genius in other fields, so maybe he does indeed see something that others don’t here.

What we know for sure is that this will be the most public demonstration of that genius that Musk has ever had, and if he truly is the visionary that many believe, he’ll definitely have a chance to prove it.

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Snap Launches New Ad Campaign to Showcase its AR Offerings

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Snap Launches New Ad Campaign to Showcase its AR Offerings

Snapchat has launched a new promotional campaign which leans into the uniqueness of its viral AR trends, with a showcase of bizarre effects, as a means to present people with a different perspective on the real world.

Pretty trippy, huh?

As explained by Snap:

At Snap, we celebrate the joy, irreverence, and spontaneity of communicating with your real friends in fun, unexpected ways. Over the years, we’ve pushed the boundaries of how people see and experience the world through augmented reality. AR makes conversations and experiences better, and unlocks new ways to connect with others, learn about the world, shop, and more. [Our new campaign] shows you what it’s like to see the world the way Snapchatters do.”

It’s pretty weird, but will that get more people using Snap?

Certainly, the campaign will grab attention, and with 72% of active Snapchat users already engaging with AR elements in the app every day, there’s clearly a lot of interest in these types of weirdo activations that provide a new way of seeing the familiar.

Maybe that’ll prove to be a good lure to get people into the app, and broaden its user base. I mean, at the least, it’ll spark intrigue, which will likely get at least a few more people downloading the app to see what they can do.

AR is a key focus for Snap, and despite operating at a much smaller scale than Meta and Apple, which are both also investing big in AR projects, Snap has continued to punch above its wait in this area, by continually coming out with AR content that grabs attention, and engages audiences.

Meta is still struggling to maintain relevance with younger audiences, a key element that could de-rail its metaverse vision, while Apple has actually leaned on Snap to help showcase its advanced AR tools over time.

If nothing else, Snapchat has its finger on the pulse, which is why virtually every AR trend – from anime filters to baby faces, from crying faces to vomiting rainbows – all of these have originated from Snapchat, and that’s remained consistent over time, even with newer platforms like TikTok entering the same realm.

Snap is very in-tune with its user base, which is also why its Snapchat+ subscription offering is already doing better than Twitter Blue, even with the addition of tweet editing verification ticks (Snapchat+ has over 1.5 million paying subscribers, versus an estimated 325k for Twitter Blue).

That community sense has helped Snap maintain growth and relevance. But it also needs to expand – and maybe, through a bizarre showcase like this, that could help to make more people aware of the things that they can do in the app.

And this is how Snapchat Lenses tend to be shared. Somebody uses it, then they just have to show their friends.

In this respect, it seems like a good initiative, which could help Snap spark more interest and engagement.

It also serves as a demo of scanning in the Snap camera – if you want to try out any of the Lenses featured in the ad, you can scan the screen in the Snap camera, which will then open up whichever Lens is featured at that moment.

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Leveraging Social Media To Grow Your Career In 2023

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Leveraging Social Media To Grow Your Career In 2023

Employees are ready to change their jobs, with nearly half of American workers planning to look for a new job in the coming six months. According to a new Robert Half report, which surveyed 2,500 professionals, around 46% of them said they plan on making a career or job change in the first half of the year.

Job-hopping has become a workplace trend among young working professionals in the post-pandemic labor market. A recent Gallup study found that 60% of surveyed millennials – ages 27 to 40 years – are more likely to look for different opportunities this year. The percentage of non-millennials workers looking to switch jobs is roughly 15% lower.

A majority of Generation Z candidates have also claimed that they are likely to make a job change this year. In a 2022 Lever Great Resignation report, around 65% of Gen Z professionals said that they are likely to leave their job by the end of the year. Moreover, 13% of them are twice as likely to quit their jobs in the next month.

Job-hopping has become almost synonymous in the post-COVID workforce, and younger professionals are fueling this trend by leaving unfulfilling roles and moving on to greener pastures.

Yet, with so many professionals changing jobs, or looking to switch careers, even against the backdrop of a looming recession, many of them have geared themselves towards social media as a way to build a professional brand and market themselves to potential employers.

Using Social Media For Career Growth

Keeping your social media professional can be a hard ball to juggle. In a 2020 Harris Poll survey, around 70% of employers said that every company should screen candidates’ social media throughout the hiring process. Additionally, the majority of employers – 78% – believe that all their current employees should adhere to a work–appropriate social media profile.

Employees should care about what they share and post on social media. Although the debate over whether social media screening during the hiring process is ethical is still ongoing, candidates willing to leverage social media to develop or boost their careers will need to set up a social media strategy that can help them land the job they want.

Much of our digital identity is pinned to our social media accounts, and a lot of what we share, like and the people we interact with via these channels can speak a great deal of the types of person we are outside of the workplace.

Aside from employees using these platforms to grow their network, or search for possible job opportunities, employers and recruiters are using it to look for any possible red or green flags that you might bring to the workplace.

Social media has moved beyond its traditional form, and today it’s become a digital ecosystem that helps to connect like-minded professionals and their potential employers.

How To Use Social Media To Boost Career Opportunities

Searching for a job is more than browsing through recruitment websites and job listings on LinkedIn or Google. The internet, and social media is a vast place, with near-endless possibilities, and when it comes to growing your career through social media, you will need to know a few things first.

Have A Social Strategy

It might sound strange at first, but having a social media strategy will help you come in contact with the right people faster. Your social media strategy should include building an online identity that reflects your professional and personal side.

You can use different platforms for different connections or networks, it’s all about how you present yourself through your brand. Think of the type of content you share regularly, does it reflect who you are as a professional? How often do you post, or reply to comments and messages? Are there any areas where you can improve or update the information to help you grow your network of contacts?

Write some questions down to get you started, and start working on building an online identity that can get noticed by like-minded individuals in the same industry.

Network With Industry Professionals

Nowadays it’s easier than ever before to reach out to a company or recruiter through their social media, and the same goes for connecting with professionals working in the same industry.

Instead of using social media to only share insightful content, or engage with your friends, try to grow your professional network. On top of this, it’s important to engage with these people as well, even if it’s simply exchanging a few words now and again.

Be active in your mission to get to know the people that are out there, and spend a bit of time researching their profiles to better understand the type of skills and qualifications these people may have. Networking is one of the best possible ways to move around your industry without putting in much effort.

Grow Your Skills

Looking at other people’s social media profiles, whether it’s Twitter or Indeed.com, or even Instagram will give a better idea of the type of skills you might need to develop to help grow and make the next big career jump.

Often professionals will share their skills, and what they’re experts in at the top of their social media accounts, this way it is easier for recruiters to know who the person is, and for like-minded professionals to engage with them.

If you compare the skills of several professionals already working in the field you’re interested in, you will get a better idea of where you might need to upskill yourself by completing some courses or doing a bit of reading.

When we say advertise, we don’t necessarily mean flashy and colorful digital adverts that you’d hope will get the attention of your potential employer.

Instead try and convey your expertise through the type of content you can share such as blog posts, news articles, industry research, or even projects you’ve worked on. Additionally, you can also share your job title and relevant experience in the bio section of your profile.

The better you are at showing people your expertise in a professional, yet unpretentious way, the faster your feed will fill up with similar content and other experienced individuals.

Update Your Profiles

This is relevant to almost every social media profile you have, regardless of what you use it for. People often neglect social media platforms they don’t use anymore, and while it can be tedious to spend so much time updating photos or replying to messages, decide on a couple of platforms you’d like to use and stick to them.

Make sure that the platforms you end up using have a recent photo, and that all other relevant personal information has been updated such as your job title, industry experience, and your current city. You don’t need to do this every week, only when needed, or when you’ve changed jobs or moved.

The better you curate your social media, the easier it will be for employers and recruiters to notice you as you actively begin to network.

Final Words

Social media can be a professional tool, despite it receiving so much negative clout in recent years. Although it’s hard to determine whether possible employers or recruiters will screen your social media accounts before or during the hiring process, it’s best to always keep a well-groomed online identity – especially if you’re looking to make progress in your career.

Make well-informed decisions, and think about the type of content you’re sharing. Remember to engage with like-minded professionals, and have conversations online through the information you share with your followers.

The better you are at curating one or two social media platforms for career purposes, the quicker you’ll be able to expand your network, and grow your professional skills. Don’t think too much about it, try and have a balance as much as possible, as this will help you to enjoy your social media experience while maintaining a professional, yet fun digital identity.

Published First on ValueWalk. Read Here.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Fauxels; Pexels; Thank you!

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Meta Announces the Reinstatement of Former President Donald Trump in its Apps

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Meta Announces the Reinstatement of Former President Donald Trump in its Apps

In the scheme of things, this, specifically, is not a major shift in social platform policy, or in broader approaches to handling inflammatory or incendiary usage by world leaders. But in terms of symbolic, and even iconic gestures, it is significant – and may well have huge implications for US politics, at the least.

Today, Meta has announced that former US President Donald Trump will be allowed to return to Facebook and Instagram, after he was banned from both apps over his posts around the time of the January 6th incident at the Capitol building in 2021.

As explained by Meta:

Two years ago, we took action in what were extreme and highly unusual circumstances. We indefinitely suspended then-US President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts following his praise for people engaged in violence at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. We then referred that decision to the Oversight Board — an expert body established to be an independent check and balance on our decision-making.

In response, the Oversight Board called for Meta to implement more structured parameters around how such decisions were made, and how long any resulting suspension would be in place. Based on this, Meta announced a two-year end date for the suspension, with a review to be conducted to assess the risk of reinstatement at that stage. That’s now resulted in Meta’s decision to allow Trump back into its apps.

Which, reportedly, the Trump team has been pushing for in recent weeks.

With a 2024 Presidential campaign in focus, Trump’s legal team sent a letter to Meta last week which requested that Trump be allowed back onto its platforms, in order to give him equal share of political voice. Whether that influenced Meta’s decision or not is unclear, but now, the gates have been re-opened, which will give Trump and Co. reach to millions of US voters via his Facebook Page and through paid ads.

Which, in itself, is significant. But as noted, it’s not clear as yet as to whether the process has seen Meta establish more definitive guidelines for handling similar situations in future, and what sorts of penalties it will implement as a result of such actions.

Meta’s Oversight Board has called out this exact detail in its response to Meta’s announcement:  

The Board welcomes that Meta has followed the Board’s recommendations to introduce a crisis policy protocol in order to improve Meta’s policy response to crises, and to undertake an assessment about the current security environment. However, the Board calls on Meta to provide additional details of its assessment so that the Board can review the implementation of the Board’s decision and recommendations in this case, to define varying violation severities by public figures in the context of civil unrest, and to articulate the way that the policy on public figure violations in the context of civil unrest relates to the crisis policy protocol.”

As the Board notes, Meta has updated its approach to such situations, in a new protocol overview for dealing with posts by public figures during times of civil unrest, while Trump specifically, Meta says, will now also face ‘heightened penalties for repeat offenses’.

But the parameters around its decisions as to what constitutes public risk are still not totally clear. Which leaves those decisions in the hands of Meta management, which could still be viewed as a form of political censorship, depending on the case.

And that, ideally, is not what Meta wants:  

“As a general rule, we don’t want to get in the way of open, public and democratic debate on Meta’s platforms – especially in the context of elections in democratic societies like the United States. The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying – the good, the bad and the ugly – so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box. But that does not mean there are no limits to what people can say on our platform. When there is a clear risk of real world harm – a deliberately high bar for Meta to intervene in public discourse – we act.

Meta also says that its ‘default’ is to let people speak, even when what they have to say is ‘distasteful or factually wrong’.

Ideally, Meta would prefer such decisions were made by an overarching regulatory body, which oversees all online platforms, but given the ways in which such a process could be abused, and the variable approaches to such in different regions, that’s a difficult proposition, which may not ever take shape.

As such, Meta is left to implement its own rules around what constitutes potential harm in this context, which it won’t always get right.

But really, there’s no other option, and such cases can only be ruled on, by Meta, as they arise.

So, will Trump come back to Facebook?

Trump’s also-suspended Twitter account was reinstated by Elon Musk back in November, and he hasn’t tweeted as yet – but that’s partly because of Trump’s stake in Truth Social, and his commitment to making that alternative platform work.

Trump Media & Technology Group has over $1 billion sunk into Trump’s own social media app Truth Social, with funding from a range Trump’s top supporters and advocates. A key proviso in that plan is that Trump has committed to posting exclusively Truth, even if his other social accounts are reinstated. There are ways in which Trump could avoid violating this, by, say, posting to Twitter or Facebook several hours after first posting to Truth, but essentially, Trump is at least somewhat locked into making Truth Social his focus.

But that won’t get him the reach or resonance that Facebook can.

Trump has over 34 million followers on Facebook, and Facebook ads have formed a key part of his previous campaigning efforts. Indeed, Trump’s team spent over $20 million on Facebook ads in 2019 alone, and while tweets became his primary weapon of choice for communicating with his audience, Facebook is also a crucial platform for promotion of his agenda.

As such, you can bet that Trump’s team is already strategizing their next Facebook ads push, now that they’re allowed back in the app.

Is that a good thing?

I mean, as Meta notes, people should be able to judge for themselves, but then again, the manipulative, targeted approaches to Facebook ads that Trump’s team has taken in the past do raise even more questions in this respect.

But that’s a whole other argument, and in basic terms, on the facts of the case, it makes sense for Meta to reinstate Trump’s account, and let him back into its apps.

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