Brands will buy their Twitter Verified status, but most people won’t
Can Elon Musk convince Twitter users to buy their blue ticks? Here’s Dom Burch, founder at Why Social, on why it might be a hard sell.
Paying for your blue tick – will it fly?
I start this opinion piece with a slight sense of trepidation.
Last time I critiqued Twitter on here, I put someone’s nose firmly out of joint.
Mind you, it still hasn’t fixed the search functionality, and not being able to follow more than 5000 people unless I have 5000 followers continues to annoy me.
But Elon has bigger things on his mind. Like how to diversify Twitter’s revenue and drive value out of his megabucks acquisition.
We need to pay the bills somehow! Twitter cannot rely entirely on advertisers. How about $8?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 1, 2022
Seemingly top of the list is charging for the privilege of a blue tick at the end of your name.
Not surprisingly, the mere suggestion led to uproar across the network, from journalists to authors and celebrities.
Twitter was even a trending topic on Twitter. All a bit meta – no pun intended. So what should brands make of it? Paying to play on social is nothing new. Once the initial free-for-all was over, Facebook started to crank the handle and squeeze marketing budgets for every penny it could.
Twitter was somewhat left behind. With anonymous users and multiple accounts, many of which lay dormant, it never had the personalization power, nor the scale and reach of its larger arch-rival.
Advertising on Twitter has remained fairly limited, with many brand managers choosing to leave the keys in charge of the customer service and PR teams.
There are notable exceptions to the rule. But as last month’s Leeds Digital Festival showed, marketeers are far more interested in harnessing TikTok. So can charging for blue tick status fly? Yes, I think it probably can.
Being present on Twitter for most companies is still a minimum social media requirement – even if it’s only to maintain credibility and benefit from Twitter’s undeniable SEO value. Love it or loathe it, customers expect you to be there, to be listening and to be reactive. Maintaining a contact center and live chat team pales into insignificance compared to Twitter demanding a small monthly fee for validation it really is you and not an imposter.
Will individuals stomach it? I’m not so sure. Instagram’s boss would also suggest otherwise. Adam Mosseri recently argued in a Ted talk that rather than content creators paying for a platform’s endorsement, things are swiftly moving in the other direction.
Content creators are charging their ‘subscribers’ for access. And with the emergence of web3 and blockchain, centralized platforms such as Meta and Twitter will no longer have a stranglehold over their power users.
In the meantime, Musk – uncensored and unleashed – can literally say what he likes and see what sticks. And change his mind as he sees fit.
It would be foolish to underestimate the world’s richest person and self-styled rocketman.
But a Twitter poll of nearly 2 million users would suggest he’s got an uphill battle on his hands.