November 10, 2022 / Thought Leadership

Twitter, WTF Is Happening?

Will Maslach, Paid Social Manager

As advertising planning for 2023 becomes a priority, Twitter is a platform that’s top of mind. Elon Musk’s official buyout of the company, and subsequent leadership takeover, has led to a wave of discussed and enacted changes at the popular social media platform that have advertising executives questioning their current and forecasted media mix. With so many eyes on the conversational platform right now, many advertisers are asking if Twitter should be a part of their advertising efforts?

The multiple pieces of recent news coming from Twitter HQ has given advertisers more reason for concern, and some are already leaving the platform out of their current and future media mix:

Elon Musk plans to charge $8 a month for verification on Twitter receives heavy backlash

In response to a reduction in advertising revenue YoY, Elon Musk is considering having users pay a subscription for a cherished and revered status symbol, the blue verified check mark. The blue check mark originated as a device to let users know that messages coming from a popular account were authentic, so that users could trust that each tweet from that account was actually from that user. Some users have begun to poke holes in this strategy already by changing the username of their already verified accounts to “Elon Musk,” and misleading users with their messages. As paid partnerships and social proof become the norm in strategies, advertisers will need to keep a close eye on authenticity and fake accounts that may misconstrue their message.

Twitter’s promised reduction of censorship leads advertisers to question brand safety

But not if you mock Elon Musk…

One of Elon Musk’s main goals coming into the sale six months ago was to reduce censorship on the platform and move further towards complete free speech. While it’s not surprising that the self-claimed “Free Speech Absolutist” would direct Twitter’s path towards less censorship, it’s striking fear into advertisers and brand managers that could have their organic and paid messages live directly next to sensational, misleading, or explicit content. Elon Musk recently met with 100 or so advertising executives in a “closed door” meeting, where the execs voiced brand safety as their chief concern. Preemptively, many brands are considering pulling their advertising dollars from the platform and moving them towards more reliable platforms. Prominent companies like Volkswagen, General Motors, REI, and the Carlsberg Group have already pulled all of their spending from Twitter while it undergoes massive changes. 

Thousands of Twitter Employees laid off as social media platform undergoes massive changes

The recent layoffs pose the largest, immediate concern for advertisers as thousands of Twitter employees have involuntarily parted from the social media platform. Concern comes naturally when any layoffs occur as less employees are present to complete the same amount of work. Add on top of these layoffs, the number of changes that leadership wants to make, or has already made, on the platform and now the demand for labor has vastly overtaken the supply. With the reduction in labor force, it’s safe to assume that it will take longer for customer / advertiser problems to be solved with support or reps, and for communication with any employees to become much less frequent. This could pose problems for advertisers in the near future, especially if the Content Moderation team was hit hard by these layoffs. Civil rights groups including GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League are urging companies to abandon Twitter entirely saying that mass layoffs are gutting an already understaffed content moderation team.

So, as an advertiser or brand manager, how should you think about Twitter in your media mix?

If you aren’t advertising on Twitter:

  1. Don’t start yet. Wait for the dust to settle to avoid potential crises.
  2. Watch carefully for new features and/or policy changes.
  3. Keep tabs on brands that ARE advertising on Twitter that are your competitors, or have similar business strategies.
  4. Re-evaluate whether your brand has a value proposition that justifies spend on Twitter once changes have gone into effect.

If you’re already advertising on Twitter:

  1. Maintain or reduce your advertising budget while changes take effect, but don’t increase your spend.
  2. Have your brand safety top of mind, and regularly check for any undesirable placements for your advertisements.
  3. Avoid run of network targeting, and double-check the feeds of any lookalike account targets that they’re safe for your brand.
  4. Stay close to your Twitter rep to get as much lead time as possible on upcoming changes.