Elon Musk spent $44 billion on Twitter. All along, Musk has made it clear his plan was to find ways to monetize the company in a more effective way. Before Musk’s acquisition, Twitter was struggling to make itself profitable as a free service, and its Twitter Blue subscription had very little presence on the social media site. It’s now 2023, and Twitter is pushing Twitter Blue harder than ever, in what may be a make-or-break move for the company.
Musk has been a controversial figure from the start. Aiming to make the platform a public square of “free speech”, his ownership of Twitter has seen previously banned figures like former US President Donald Trump returning to the site. This has had consequences though. According to Forbes, Twitter’s revenue has been crashing as advertisers withdraw their support. The advertiser pullback can be attributed to both Musk’s personal views on content moderation, as well as the site’s dramatic overhauls such as changes to the verification system.
This all brings us up to now. Last we heard back in November, Twitter was losing $4 million per day. The urgency behind Twitter’s push to monetization is clear, and it’s brought us the revamped Twitter Blue. We already knew about the verification system of paid subscribers, but as time has passed, Musk has gotten more and more serious about Twitter Blue.
Twitter Blue is positioning itself as an essential service, both for the everyday Tweeter and the professional full-time poster. Twitter Blue will offer prioritization in replies, giving an algorithmic preference to those paying for Twitter. Musk describes this as an anti-spam move, but what it really offers is higher engagement and visibility. Content creators of all sizes can already be seen sporting a verified Blue tick to appear more legitimate and create a more official brand.
Content creators are also being targeted by the increased video length options of Twitter Blue. It’s easy to see how YouTubers and Twitch streamers could make great use of the feature, posting extended highlights, clips and features. Combined with their increased presence on the timeline from the verification, a paid Twitter Blue membership is positioning itself to over success.
Then there’s the average Tweeter. Twitter Blue’s offering of extended character limits on Tweets can be multifunctional. From telling extended stories, making wordier memes and writing an inevitable apology Tweet, Twitter Blue can capitalize on our urge to say more and be clearer.
Finally, there’s the security features. It made headlines recently that Twitter’s two-factor authentication via SMS would be put behind a paywall effective March 20. After that date, only Twitter Blue subscribers will be able to access their accounts with text message confirmation. Two-factor authentication will still be available to free users with an authentication app or security key, but Twitter Blue is adding convenience to its list of offerings, at the cost of users who previously used it for free.
SMS Authentication behind a paywall is a controversial move. The majority of sites offer this feature for free, coming at a minimal cost for each business. Musk however has claimed that phone companies are “scamming” Twitter at a cost of $60 million per year. With the general user base perhaps unaware of Twitter’s two-factor authentication apps or security keys though, what could cost Musk even more is the cost of support. Removing a previously free feature and pushing users to take a less convenient path may result in more accounts without two-factor authentication, prime for hackers to access and for those users to turn to support to get them back.
The motive of Twitter Blue is a clear one. Elon Musk needs to bring money back to Twitter, and if it won’t come from the advertisers it must come from the users. As more features get added to Twitter Blue, including essential and previously free security features, it’s clear that Elon Musk is serious about making Twitter Blue work.