Update: today (June 3rd 2021) twitter launched its first Twitter Blue premium service in Australia and Canada. Read the press release here. I think that this is an absolutely great idea. Twitter is the first one of the major social media platforms that offers a premium subscription to its users.
It is unclear when Twitter blue will start to roll out in other countries. But if the tests are successful in Canada and Australia, we can expect to see a roll out fairly soon.
Why Twitter should launch a premium subscription
It is the least visual and interactive social media platform. It is the slowest to adopt new technologies and features. The engagement rates are some of the worst per post of any social media player out there. Still millions of users flock to Twitter every day for the latest news and updates.
The community might be more vibrant than ever, possibly due to the covid-19 pandemic. In fact, Twitter even managed to turn a profit in the last quarter. So why would the “social news site” seek out new ways to make money off of its users, you might ask. I think the better question is, why they haven’t already done so.
Here are key reasons why I think Twitter should launch a premium subscription.
1. Create lock-in
With relatively low engagement rates, Twitter is always the first in line to lose its users. It is not always clear what its role is within the social media landscape. Regardless of the strong (tech and news media) core users, Twitter has a hard time to stay interesting to new audiences.
Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, attract more new active users. This means that Jack Dorsey and friends need to take special care of their core users -double down on this user demographic. A premium subscription service would force Twitter to create new tools, just for this user group; get out of its comfort zone and create a stronger bond with its users.
2. More new features
Some features are not really new topics at all. Twitter users have been asking for an undo- and edit button for years. However, I don’t think that this should be a reason for anyone to pay 2.99-4.99 a month for the service.
The Twitter community would love to see tools like Twitter Spaces and tipping for live streams/or premium user generated content, too. A plus-subscription model could give paying users first dips on new tools and features. Furthermore, it would “force” Twitter to listen to its core user base better.
3. Fewer bots and automated messages
The level of human interaction on Twitter has increased over the years. However, it still suffers from an abnormal number of bots, compared to a social media network like Facebook.
Premium subscriptions would add an additional hurdle for those who mean harm. Users who pay for a subscription, could be verified, first. This could make the system more personal and raise the level of interactions.
Twitter has not had the best track record of providing consistent results. Hence, investors have been hesitant to get behind the service fully on some occasions. As a power user, there is always a trade off between spending time on Twitter and other services. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok (even) seem to be safer bets to build a large user base on.
The additional cash flow stability could create a safer environment for users, too. Indirectly, this would signal that Twitter is here to stay.
5. Professional tools
Tools like Tweetdeck and advanced analytics might be the most important for power users, brands and retailers alike. Twitter does not make full use of these features, though.
An improvement in these tools would certainly justify a premium subscription for power Tweeters.
6. Apple is making things more difficult
Last but not least, the era of user targeted digital advertising is changing. Apple’s iOS 14.5 update (read more about the implications here) has the potential to change the digital marketing landscape significantly. Hence, a secondary non-advertising led revenue stream would potentially save Twitter.
If I were Jack, I would not wait until Facebook introduces their pay wall system. You don’t want users having to choose between the various subscriptions they have. Better get in the game early and pave the way for the rest of them, for once.
What do you think
The news that Twitter are contemplating the introduction of a premium service is nothing new. Every few months news pops-up about a plus-model. However, this time the rumors are very strong. I personally think it is about time that Twitter simply gives it a shot and starts to do things differently.
What do you think Twitter should do? Would you be willing to pay for Twitter or some of its features?
Also published on Medium.