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X will thrive in 2024 despite Musk telling advertisers to ‘go f**k yourself’


By Geoff Gates, Creative director, social strategy and content

December 11, 2023 | 8 min read

Boathouse’s Geoff Gates believes even Elon Musk can’t kill Twitter; sorry, X. The former LA Lakers social head explains why.

Elon Musk X

“Go f**k yourself.” Three little words. A sentence forever etched into our brains. Musk’s message to displeased advertisers.

SFGate recently released an article titled ‘The end of Elon Musk,’ and its tweet promoting the article read, “Beyond the cursing, Elon Musk’s interview is erratic enough to end his career.”

Yet another headline to add to the endless headlines from the last year-plus calling for the inevitable demise of not just the platform, X, but its owner, Elon Musk.

As we approach a new year and new predictions, we’ll no doubt see more hot takes about X’s doomed future. But here we are, still talking about X because X still exists, seemingly defying all odds and catchy article titles. I’m about to burst your bubbles.

X isn’t going anywhere.

Let me be clear, I don’t agree with basically everything that’s happened at the company since Elon’s purchase. I also see what’s right in front of me – a platform so engrained in the ethos of its users that it’s bulletproof.

So, what are the reasons behind this way of thought?

No platform can match what X does

Yes, worldwide users have gone down. But X is going on twenty years of existence, which in social media years is geriatric. Elon bought the company over a year ago and seemed to do everything he could to destroy it, leaving the window open for a savvy app to come in and steal their lunch. But here we are. If someone was going to create a legitimate threat to the platform, wouldn’t it have happened already?

It took Threads took a mere five days to reach the 100m user mark. Other X-style platforms like Mastodon and Bluesky also had buzzy moments of inception. Casey Netwon, the author of the Platform newsletter (a fantastic read), in his most recent edition, even highlighted ten strategies for replacing “Twitter from people who used to work there,” where past employees went in-depth on what must be considered when making an X competitor.

But no one has come close to matching the feeling someone gets when a shared experience happens on the platform.

Founders have a hard time realizing that there’s something intangible about the experience on X, the shared experience of living through a moment in time together. No one else has cracked this vital element to success.

We’ve seen advertisers pause/stop spending before

Uh oh, Apple is pausing its ad spend on X because Elon backed an antisemitic post? I hate to break it to you, but this isn’t the first time Apple paused its ad spend on the platform. When Elon purchased Twitter for $44bn, he gutted the company. Specifically, Apple was upset about Musk’s approach to moderation, or lack thereof. So, it paused its spending. Fast forward a few months, and Apple was back.

This, unfortunately, is a tale as old as time. A company or its owner does something reprehensible, other companies take firm stands against the act, and then once the PR cycle blows over, it’s back to regularly scheduled programming.

After the brutal murder of George Floyd, we experienced an explosion of support for DEI efforts in corporate America. You don’t have to look very far to see how many companies have all but abandoned their efforts in the DEI space.

Unfortunately, when dealing with a person worth hundreds of billions of dollars, threatening him with withholding money isn’t a very sound tactic. Advertisers pausing, keyword here being pausing, ad spending won’t impact X’s business.

Elon has also begun the process of becoming less ad-dollar dependent, rolling out a series of costs to customers, including jacking up the price for Verified Organizations to a staggering $1,000/month and charging for a blue checkmark. As of April 2023, there were 640,000 Premium subscribers. At $8 a pop, that’s just over $5m/month of money he doesn’t need from ads.

Elon is wealthy beyond belief

While we’re on the subject of wealth – according to Forbes, Elon Musk is the world’s richest person with a healthy $243.9bn. On any given day, his net worth fluctuates plus/minus $1-2bn. Money isn’t an object to him. If he loses tens of billions of dollars here and there, so what? He’s not going to shutter the company just because he’s losing money on it.

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Elon envisions X as an “everything app” and has plans that go well beyond a year or two. Being a little shorter on cash isn’t going to make any dent in X’s sustainability.

For the majority of the population, you may want to punch me in the face at this point in the article. I don’t blame you! All of this is just as frustrating, if not more, to me. I joined Twitter as a University student in 2011 and have loved it ever since. I hate to see the direction it’s going.

But the reality is that X isn’t going anywhere; Elon won’t let it.

So don’t give up that username just yet; you might need it.

Geoff Gates was the head of social media for the LA Lakers; now, he is Boathouse’s creative director of social strategy and content.

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