X looks set to continue its push on X Premium sign-ups, with a new option in development that would enable you to restrict your post replies to verified users only in the app.
As you can see in this example, shared by app researcher Nima Owji, X may soon provide a new “Verified Only” reply restriction option on posts, which would mean that only paying users, those directly mentioned in the post, would be able to respond to it.
All users would still be able to quote any post, so there’d still be a reply option, of sorts, for non subscribers. But the idea, again, is that X is aiming to drive more interactions among paying users, with the impetus then ideally prompting more X users to sign-up to X Premium to engage with all posts.
Which has become a common element in most of X’s latest projects. Its coming video call option is also set to be an X Premium exclusive, while X is also looking to add Premium-only polls, Premium-only Spaces, and various other elements with paid user restrictions.
Which, you would assume, will also impact overall engagement, given that fewer than 0.5% of X users are signed up to its Premium package.
X is looking to address this too, via a new, cheaper subscription option.
Last week, in an interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, X owner Elon Musk noted that a “lower priced tier” for X Premium is coming, as another means to drive more take-up.
Musk’s view is that charging a subscription fee is the only way to combat bot armies, by making it cost prohibitive for them to create thousands of profiles in the app, which is why he’s continuing to push X Premium subscriptions, despite limited interest in the program thus far.
Mentions of the coming “X Basic” package have also now been spotted in the back-end code of the app.
There’s no word on how much cheaper this new package will be, or what restrictions it might have, in comparison to the current Premium package. But if X really wants to make its paid verification offering work, it will need to offer variable options, catering to developing regions, where $US8 per month is expensive, while also providing more appeal to the vast majority of X users who never actually post anything in the app.
Because most of the incentives of X Premium thus far relate to posting and reach. And given that 80% of its users don’t post, there’s not a heap of benefit there.
A cheaper alternative, then, is a logical option, though even then, it’s difficult to see X Premium reaching the take-up levels it would require to be an effective bot deterrent, as Musk envisions.
The main concept here is that if enough people sign up, and get their own verification tick, then the bot accounts will stand out in the app, because they’ll be the only ones that won’t have a checkmark beside their username. For this to be effective, X would ostensibly need the majority of its 250 million users to sign up, but then again, if 80% of them never post, as X recently acknowledged, then the required number here is actually much smaller, and X really only needs to appeal to this active user cluster, at least in the beginning.
If X can get the majority of the 50 million or so active, posting users to sign up, that would be a major first step. It still has a long way to go on even this lesser target, but maybe, that’s a more achievable goal for the X team, as opposed to pushing for all users to sign-on to its Premium package.
That still wouldn’t equate for bot engagement, with bots able to like posts, and inflate user counts. That’s another element that its verification program could theoretically address (if an account is primarily followed by non-verified accounts, you would know they’ve likely paid for that audience), but maybe, this is the main aim for the first stage, eventually ensuring that the majority of interactions in the app are coming from paid subscribers, helping to push down bot influence.
It still seems unlikely to work, based on past examples of paid social options. But if Snapchat+ can get 5 million subscribers, X Premium should also be able to drive at least similar numbers, and maybe, through gradual pushes, it will become a more significant consideration.
X will need to get its packages right, as well as its pricing. But maybe, with broader functionality, and exclusive tools, more people might, eventually, be interested.