"Would people pay to read my tweets?"
That's the question that every Twitter user with 10k or more followers was thinking when the company provided an overview of its in development 'Super Follow' option this week.
As you can see here, as a 'Super' follower of someone on Twitter, people could theoretically pay $4.99 per month to get things like:
- A supporter badge
- Subscriber-only newsletters
- Exclusive content
- Deals and discounts
- Community access
Twitter would look to further facilitate the Super Follow process by incorporating audience segmentation tools into its various functions, as you can see in these screenshots.
Users would be able to run Twitter Spaces which only their super followers could join, post tweets that only their super followers could read and reply to, and share Fleets with their paying audience exclusively. The newsletter subscription element would be built into Twitter's new Revue integration.
Which is interesting, right? It adds a whole new range of options for building a Twitter following, and could provide more incentive for the platform's most active and most popular users to keep sharing new content on the platform, which, really, is a key element that's lacking in the Twitter experience.
But will users actually pay for your tweets?
In all honesty, in the majority of cases, the answer is probably no - but then again, maybe this will be the impetus that motivates users to do more with their Twitter audience, creating valuable, unique content to generate additional income.
But it's similar to the top YouTube stars - if you tell people that the highest-earning YouTuber is a kid who does unboxing videos, they lose their minds, and generally exclaim something along the theme of 'well, I could do that.'
Yes, you could. But you probably wouldn't be any good at it.
The illusion of social media celebrity is that it's easy to build a following and get paid. The barrier for entry is low, the quality of content is nothing mind-blowing. Anyone can play a few video games on camera, and scream a little bit as they do, right?
The thing is, while the top stars make it look easy, being engaging, creating good content, content that people will come back for, that people will actually pay to see, is actually very difficult.
You have to be valuable for one, whether that's through providing information or entertainment. If it's the former, then is this information that people could get elsewhere? If they can get it for free someplace else, why would they pay you for the same? If it's the latter, then you'll want to be seeing strong engagement with your tweets. If your audience is regularly Liking and commenting on your stuff, then there's a good chance they see unique value in what you post, and you may be able to monetize it.
If you're not hitting the mark on either of these things, ain't nobody going to pay for your exclusive tweets - and this is before you even consider the challenges of consistency.
Various surveys and polls have shown that there's a fairly strong resistance to paying for tweet content. Because it's available for free now, and most of it isn't that valuable. Really, how would your audience react if you stopped tweeting? Would they miss your content? If you go on holiday, do people ask why you stopped sharing updates?
The honest truth is that most Twitter accounts are largely replaceable, and if you do want to monetize your tweet content, you'll need to assess what it is, exactly, that makes up your unique value proposition.
Whether that means going niche, writing more original content, running exclusive interviews on Spaces. If you're serious about making money via tweet, you'll need to consider what value you plan to bring to your audience to justify that additional cost.
Because while it might be enticing to think that 'hey, if only 10k of my 80k followers subscribe, that's $50k per month* - BOOM'. While it might seem like a no-brainer, if the feature does eventually get released, and everyone starts looking to monetize their Twitter presence, fewer and fewer users will end up making money, and the cream will eventually rise to the top.
If and when Twitter does launch Super Followers, and you are thinking of going for it, it'll be worth mapping out a structured plan of attack, rather than just seeing who might throw you a few bucks your way to keep doing what you always have.
I mean, that might work too, but subscription fatigue is real, and not every 'power user' and 'guru' is going to get rich from their 280 character missives.
There are other considerations here too:
- With Twitter users able to prompt payment from their audience, that could potentially change influencer marketing on the platform, and help weed out those with big numbers versus those with actual influence. Now, users will be able to literally demonstrate that they can influence audience action, by showing that they've got X amount of people to pay for their tweets. That could become a key separator in choosing the Twitter influencers brands work with.
- The introduction of non-public tweets will have impacts for brand monitoring efforts, as some mentions will now be hidden from view. How big an impact that will have will depend on how many users adopt the Super Follow option, but it could be significant, depending on how the process rolls out
- It could also have an impact on retweets and engagement, as Super followers likely won't be able to retweet those tweets. That could change engagement behaviors more broadly if a lot of people take it up, and followers get used to not having retweets as an option
- For brands, it'll be interesting to see how Super Follows are integrated, or not, into third-party platforms like Hootsuite, and how they can be managed via Twitter's API. Super Follows could be great for building brand community, but you will need to be able to manage such within your regular workflow to maximize the benefits.
There's a lot to consider here, and the option will likely have a significant impact on the broader tweet experience, in many ways.
But it will be particularly interesting to see how it separates the wheat from the chaff, with many 'influencers' potentially set to take an ego hit when they ask their audience to pay up.