Elon Musk continues to re-shape Twitter, even as his newly appointed CEO gets started at the job.
With former NBC ad exec Linda Yaccarino now occupying an office a Twitter HQ, Musk has continued to make product announcements via tweet, including new moves on data portability, proposed changes to algorithmic interference, and a continued push on video streaming.
First off, on subscriber data – Elon has announced that content creators will soon be able to download a list of info on their Twitter subscribers, so they can contact them off-platform if they choose.
This platform will provide email addresses of subscribers (who opt in) to content creators, so that creators are able to leave this platform easily & take their subscribers with them if they want— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 7, 2023
This has always been a contentious area for social media platforms, with most viewing this type of data as proprietary – i.e. they own that connection because they’ve facilitated it. As such, most have been reluctant to provide easy ways to download and re-use off-platform contact info, but there has been a broader shift towards such in recent years.
Enabling data portability like this on Twitter could be another lure for creators and brands that want to build their contacts via the platform, with many now more likely to consider how they can leverage this element to expand their connections, and build business, both on and off-platform. Brands, for example, could offer special deals via subscriber-only tweets, then use those collected emails to build their own mailing lists.
On another front, Elon has also agreed that Twitter’s algorithm should not impede reach in the Following tab, following a suggestion from a user.
The Following tab should remove any algorithmic sequence and/or bans/throttling. If I follow the person it’s because I want to see their tweets. I don’t need Twitter playing “dad” for me.— Caroline (@carolinecwilder) June 7, 2023
This could be a difficult one to action - and Elon’s tacit endorsement doesn’t mean that this actually happens. But it aligns with Musk’s free speech ethos, and giving users the option to see what they choose, as opposed to limiting the reach of content in the app.
How that might impact Twitter’s ‘freedom of speech, not freedom of reach’ approach, which will reduce the reach of rule-breaking tweets, as opposed to removing them, remains to be seen. Meanwhile, if actioned, it could also reduce overall ad exposure as a result of brand safety considerations, which is another factor that Twitter will need to consider if it looks to remove reach restrictions within certain elements.
Essentially, I don’t think this is a workable concept, but it’ll no doubt be explored by Elon and his team.
Finally, Elon has also flagged making a bigger pitch to gaming streamers, as a means to gather up cast-offs from Twitch, which recently implemented new rules around sponsorships and paid endorsements in streams (update: Twitch has since reversed its decision).
No restrictions on this platform!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 6, 2023
Musk is keen to build Twitter’s video ecosystem, and has repeatedly talked about making Twitter a bigger competitor for YouTube, by providing a more equitable ad revenue share in the app.
Which, of course, is only one element of YouTube’s appeal – with reach being the biggest one (YouTube has around eight times the audience reach of Twitter). But Twitter does have a big gaming community, and if it can provide better revenue split options, along with more open parameters on cross-promotions, maybe that’ll help Twitter to win over some more gaming streamers, and build its video offerings.
Twitter’s got a long way to go on this front, but Yaccarino, who oversaw the development of NBC’s streaming offering, could be a valuable addition to help lead the charge, and make Twitter a bigger destination for video streamers. This has always been a key opportunity for the app. Twitter is the home for real-time discussion, and the central platform for discussing sports, TV shows, and other live events. For years, Twitter has tried to tap into this, in order to maximize its revenue opportunities, by hosting both the content and the conversation in one, but none of those efforts have truly paid off.
Maybe, Elon will be the one to crack the code, and integrate more exclusive video content in the app. Some of Musk’s early changes at the app haven’t taken hold the way he would have hoped, but he’s now moving more into line with more viable, valuable potential opportunities, which the appointment of Yaccarino also aligns with.
Right now, however, Yaccarino is just getting started, and up to speed with Elon’s breakneck pace of development. But eventually, I would expect this to be a bigger focus, as the evolving Twitter 2.0 continues to work on new options that they hope will build the platform into a much bigger consideration.