What does the future hold for TikTok under a Joe Biden-lead White House?
As per App Annie:
“TikTok has seen sharp growth in active users by amassing a sizable global footprint in 2020 — nearly tripling in size since 2018. In 2021, we expect TikTok to not only achieve a coveted spot in the 1 Billion monthly active users club, but to sail straight past to 1.2 billion.”
App Annie also notes that TikTok saw the second-highest consumer spend among non-gaming apps in Q3 2020, which underlines its earnings potential.
“Whilst TikTok monetizes through ads, it also allows users to transact in the app through sales of virtual gifts used for tipping streamers.”
That, seemingly, puts TikTok in a strong position heading into the new year – but it does, of course, assume that TikTok will still be operational in the US, which, technically, is still in question.
I say technically, because thus far, TikTok has avoided any penalties scheduled to be imposed on it as part of the Trump Administration’s Executive Order issued back in August, which ruled that TikTok needed to be sold to a US-owned business or it would be banned in the US completely. But it’s not totally free of any impacts just yet.
At last check, the Pennsylvania District Court had ruled against the proposed ban on TikTok after a group of prominent TikTok users sought an injunction, arguing that banning the app would impact their livelihoods. The court agreed, which essentially suspended the final element of the EO, meaning that TikTok could continue on, as normal, in the US, with no impacts, regardless of whether it ends up being sold to Oracle/Walmart or not.
But that ruling, and all others, are subject to appeal by the US Government, if it so chooses to enforce the original order. Some had suggested that the Trump administration would be seeking to push harder for a TikTok ban if it won the election, as the public perception that TikTok has successfully avoided a ban could look bad for its authority. But with Joe Biden now the President-elect, that changes things significantly.
According to reports, a Biden administration is likely to take a less critical stance on TikTok and the concerns around its ownership.
As per The Denver Post:
“Robert Atkinson, the president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, which is funded by U.S. tech companies, said the TikTok ban was “much more of a Trump issue” that Biden might drop.”
Indeed, additional reports have suggested that the proposed Oracle-lead deal for TikTok is likely to come under heavy scrutiny by the Biden Administration, and is unlikely to be approved. Which would mean that TikTok would come out of the process unharmed – not totally free of impacts, as it did lose a CEO in the scuffle with the Trump Admin. But from a practical standpoint, it would remain available, utilizing the same systems, the same algorithms. TikTok, as users know it, would be exactly the same, if these projections are correct.
That could mean that it’s time for brands to get on-board. If TikTok is set to join the billion-user club, that will present significant opportunities, and with the platform adding in more eCommerce tools and other options, it could present significant value as a brand promotion vehicle.
Some will remain hesitant, and the current legal challenges by the Trump Admin will need to play out before there’s any concrete path forward for the app. But it seems like TikTok could be the place to be – as based on this analysis, many, many more users will be flocking to the app.
Elon Musk Outlines Roadmap for ‘Twitter 2.0’ in New Slide Deck
Elon Musk has provided some more insight into his evolving plan for Twitter, which will now also see the company embark on a hiring push, after firing 65% of its workforce, in order to get in more development and engineering talent to help realize Musk’s grand vision.
And with that, Musk has put together a new pitch deck, of sorts, which aims to clarify his current plan. Which, as noted, is evolving quickly, so it may end up being totally different, it may be indicative – we don’t know for sure as yet.
But he is slowly clarifying and honing in on specific elements.
Here’s a look at the collection of slides that Musk has put together to present his current strategic outline for the app.
As you can see in this first slide, Musk’s presentation shows that new account sign-ups are at an all-time high, with the chart going back to 2014.
I’m not sure what that means in isolation. Definitely, that could mean that more people are keen to get in on Twitter conversation, and with Facebook getting stale, and Instagram suffering an identity crisis, Twitter is seemingly becoming a more interesting consideration.
But it would also be worth noting where these new sign-ups are coming from. Are these US users, maybe freedom of speech-ers signing up to Elon’s new, more open public square? Are these users in developing markets, as has been Twitter’s predominant growth trend for the past three years, as US usage has stagnated?
Could this be scammers signing up for a lot more accounts very quickly – because in order to qualify for Twitter Blue, and get a blue checkmark, accounts will have to have been active for at least 90 days prior?
It’s a stat, for sure, but without further context, it’s hard to make any conclusion on what it means.
The next chart is User Active Minutes, which is also at an all-time high.
That is interesting – based on this chart, divided by the current number of active users, which Musk has also shared, the average Twitter user is now spending 31.5 minutes per day in the app.
That’s not radically different than what’s been previously reported, though some reports have suggested Twitter usage has declined significantly in recent times. These numbers actually reinforce that, with Twitter’s session time down in the low teens (seemingly) till 2021, then rising again of late – though I suspect the lower chart is supposed to say ‘November 2022’ at the bottom right.
Basically, the data shows that Twitter is back at its previous usage levels, after losing its way for some time. Which is not surprising given Musk’s capacity to spark controversy and discussion.
There are also some more questionable charts that show a decline in hate speech:
Note that the qualifier here is tweets ‘with 1+ slur’ from a curated list, and a ‘Toxicity score’ of 0.91 or higher. This is a little vague and lacks the full context of what this represents.
There’s also this:
Which just shows that a lot more people were engaging in impersonation in the app when Twitter started allowing them to buy Blue verification ticks, then, when Twitter pulled the $8 verification plan, fewer impersonations were reported.
Like, yeah, you opened the door for them to scam people with misleading verified accounts, so they took advantage, and now they’re not, because they can’t. At least until Twitter re-launches the $8 verification plan next week.
Musk then also shared this overview of his current roadmap, which is pretty much a re-angling of Twitter’s current features.
‘Advertising as entertainment’ uses an example of an automated sampling script to create a more engaging ad experience (‘like this tweet and I’ll show you which house you belong to based on your tweets’). Not sure if Musk is suggesting that this is something Twitter will be offering as an ad tool, but thus far, these types of activations have been created by brand partners, in collaboration with Twitter. If Twitter does move to make this an actual ad feature, that could be difficult to scale.
Note that Twitter also released Branded Likes, a related ad engagement option, back in June.
The next frame, as you can see, just says video with a randomized example
Not sure exactly what this means, but Musk has flagged allowing longer video clips to be attached to tweets, while he’s also talking about a creator monetization program, which would offer a more beneficial revenue share than YouTube’s 45/55 split.
Encrypted DMs are fast becoming the standard, with Meta also integrating full encryption across Messenger, Instagram Direct and WhatsApp. That’s raised the hackles of many law enforcement groups, who say that this will offer protection for criminals, but it will also provide more security, and assurance, for general users.
There’s also Longform Tweets, for which Musk has shared a screenshot of Twitter Notes, which has been in development over the past year.
Notes enables you to create posts of up to 2,500 words, which are then natively embedded into the Twitter app for easy sharing.
Then there’s the revamped $8 verification plan, which I’ve shared my thoughts on here.
Oh, and payments:
No examples here, but based on Musk’s previous statements, it seems like he’s looking to follow the same game plan with payments that various other apps have already tried. You start off by facilitating funds transfers between accounts, enabling fee-free remittance, a key benefit in developing markets. Then, once people are already moving money in the app, you offer more ways to use it, via in-app purchases, bill payments, banking, etc.
This is Musk’s big, overarching plan to make Twitter a more critical app – but as noted, various others have tried, and the regulatory hurdles alone have made it a nightmare to enact.
Maybe Musk will have better luck in moving things forward, but it’s a big challenge, which will take time – which is also why there’s no example image for this as yet.
Of course, the mention of payments will also fire up all the crypto enthusiasts, who view Musk as a key leader in mainstreaming crypto payments. That definitely won’t be happening, but I suspect that this is another reason why Musk has left this slide blank, to offer a glimmer of hope to his fanatical fan base.
Which is what Elon does best. Question his business and intellectual acumen all you want, but he sure does know how to get attention, which is really the most valuable, tangible skill that he brings to any project. He’s a walking PR machine, who’s now been given the keys to his own platform millions of users, and it’s pretty clear that he’s enjoying the attention he now commands as Twitter-in-chief.
The next question then is, how many media tricks does Elon have up his sleeve?
Each of these actions has sparked its own media cycle, and brought a heap more attention to Musk and Twitter as a result, but when the stunts run out, what then?
Can Musk keep coming up with more attention-grabbing changes at the app, or will this roadmap actually lead to a more sustainable business, enabling him to stop grabbing headlines, and leave Twitter to its own devices?
In essence, that’s what these usage charts show, that Musk is really good at getting attention.
But it’s what comes after that will make or break the business.
Oh, also, someone has suggested that the tweet character count should be expanded to 420 instead of the current 280. Given Musk’s affinity for this number, that’ll probably happen.
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