Look, if you told me that Twitter is going to turn everything around, and Twitter Blue take-up will increase significantly, and it’ll be revenue positive, and Elon Musk will win out once again, I wouldn’t dismiss that outright.
But it’s getting harder to see the light at the end of the Twitter 2.0 tunnel, which seems to be getting narrower and narrower the more Elon and Co. continue on with their plans.
This week, reports have emerged that amid a major outage, and various explorations of concerns that the app is simply not working like it should, Elon Musk pulled a group of engineers aside to instead talk about engagement on his own profile instead.
As reported by Platformer:
“This is ridiculous,” [Musk] said, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the meeting. “I have more than 100 million followers, and I’m only getting tens of thousands of impressions.”
Musk was so incensed by his declining engagement rates that he demanded an investigation, in order to get the bottom of why people weren’t interacting with his every thought like they used to.
Now, of course, this could also have been an exploration of broader algorithmic issues - while using himself as the case in question, Musk could also be exploring a bigger issue with tweet reach and engagement, which could impact all users.
But evidently, it was a very personal issue for Big E.
“Employees showed Musk internal data regarding engagement with his account, along with a Google Trends chart. Last April, they told him, Musk was at “peak” popularity in search rankings, indicated by a score of “100.” Today, he’s at a score of nine. Musk did not take the news well. ‘You’re fired, you’re fired’, Musk told the engineer.
The story both seems crazy and totally plausible, especially given the way that Elon has focused on his Twitter profile as a proxy for his overall popularity - which it definitely is not.
In the most recent Tesla earnings call, Elon was asked about how his questionable tweets could be impacting Tesla’s popularity.
“Let me check my Twitter account. Okay, so I’ve got 127 million followers and it continues to grow very rapidly. That suggests that I’m reasonably popular. Might not be popular with some people. But for the vast majority of people, the follow account speaks for itself.”
Of course, many people are following Elon Musk for different reasons, and your follower count is not indicative of, really, anything. But Elon seems to have intertwined his ego with his engagement numbers, which is likely, partly why he bought the platform in the first place, while it’s also why his recent engagement declines are a major concern to him.
But Twitter has far bigger issues than Elon’s whims.
The app suffered a significant outage this week, and is experiencing ongoing problems including load drop-outs, incorrect error messages, issues with the new Twitter Blue, and more.
And amid all of this, Twitter also needs money. Much more, in line with Elon’s ambitious targets.
It’s hard to see more people looking to pay Twitter to use the app when it doesn’t always work, and it’s difficult to maximize engagement when users are struggling to undertake basic functions.
So, yeah, of course, Elon could still turn things around, and Twitter’s various projects and experiments could all come good, and Elon might just be a genius and we can’t all see it. But definitely, I can’t see it, not in the case of Twitter 2.0.
And with more advertisers turning away, and subscription take-up sputtering, surely Elon knows that his own minor gripes are not the focus at this stage. It doesn’t seem like a path to ultimate success. Maybe it’s all a part of the process. But the ‘process’ seems less calculated every day.