Twitter Launches New Subscription-Based Service, Twitter Blue.

Fanni Breczku
June 7, 2021

Twitter launches a new subscription-based service, Twitter Blue – is it a genius idea or did they blue it?

Twitter, the microblogging social media platform, finally listened to it’s users and introduced functions that have been requested for years. Then put them behind a paywall. Their newest subscription service Twitter Blue brings long awaited functions to the platform such as undoing tweets.

Did Twitter completely miss the mark, or is this a new genius way of generating revenue? Here is our rant on why we think Twitter should have stayed away from the subscription based service introduction.

Text me when you get home.

Twitter has always been a polarising social media platform. The microblogging site was launched in 2006 because CEO Jack Dorsey and his mates did not have text-enabled phones at the time and they spent a lot of time on their home computers. The service was first born out of the need to create a cross-device platform that was available on both phones and desktop computers. Hence why, they originally intended it to be used for texting – they introduced the 140 character limit/tweet which was only expanded to 280 in 2017.

In 2021, Twitter is so much more than just a platform for texting. Millions of users tweet daily and use the platform as a way to microblog, catch-up with friends, see news or scream at customer service representatives for cancelled flights, cold food and more.

Since Twitter was set up to be a space for texting, one crucial feature has been missing since the launch of the platform – editing tweets. Whether it’s a typo, or wrong piece of data, users have been begging Twitter to introduce the function. The announcement was made last Thursday (03.06.2021)  that Twitter Blue, Twitter’s first ever subscription service, was launching. And that it would finally bring the long awaited edit function and many more (Bookmark folders, Reader mode etc). But instead of users celebrating this new service – it has been met with mixed reviews.

Image credit: Twitter

User @Dailyamypic even tweeted “twitter blue, more like paying 5 dollars for garbage”

How do you do, fellow kids?

Image credit NBC/Peacock

Twitter has been desperately trying to keep up with the changing times of social media. Last November they introduced Fleets – disappearing tweets which was their take on the widely popular Snapchat copy, Instagram stories.

While it seemed like a good idea at the time, unfortunately Fleets are rarely used by users, and it feels like this function completely missed the target audience. We have found multiple articles that show you how you could remove Fleets from your iOS or Android apps. Not to mention that The Verge has reported that Instagram Story-like ads will now begin to be tested by selected advertisers, in an attempt to create more revenue for the company, something CEO Jack Dorsey has been lusting after for quite some time.

In it’s latest attempts to be cool and “down with the kids”, Twitter has chosen to take on Clubhouse, the social media platform that went viral during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Alongside Fleets, they also launched Twitter Spaces. By creating a Space, users can invite selected followers to join-in on a live, voice only conversation.

Next to Twitter Blue, it was also announced that Twitter will be expanding Spaces and adding it as a tab on both desktop and mobile versions of the platform.

It seems like that between Spaces and Fleets Twitter is doing everything to please their growing number of 192 million daily, active users. But why is it then, that their newest announcement, Twitter Blue, left us feeling blue, and to be quite honest, disappointed.

We know that all free social media platforms need to make a living. And we know that it’s usually done through various forms of advertising. Whether it’s to grow your following, send traffic to your website or entice prospective clients to make purchases, all social media platforms offer the options for users to advertise. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok and even Twitter have had advertising functions for years on end.

And as a marketing agency if we know anything about running social advertisements, it sometimes can be quite expensive to get in front of the right audience. But we still do it, because it works. (Really, it does, we increased social store traffic by 105% for one of our clients.) This just means that for example; in 2019, more than 98% of all Facebook revenue came from advertising and that all social media platforms feature more and more advertising for their users on a daily basis.

So why did Twitter opt for the subscription based model of Twitter Blue anyway?

Subscription services such as Netflix, Spotify and we hate to see it, but Amazon Prime, have been increasingly popular in the last few years. They have even experienced an unprecedented boom during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns across the globe. Who wouldn’t want to take a slice of pie?

Essentially, the problem here is not that Twitter announced a subscription based service. Our problem is that they put essential features, like editing a tweet behind a paywall. A feature that is free on any other social media platform. While the subscription starting at $3.49 CAD/month or $4.49 AUD/month (Twitter Blue is only available in Canada and Australia at the moment) is not the most expensive of subscriptions, it is still an expenditure that Twitter native Millennials and Gen Z might not be able to afford after a year of hardship.

What we would have loved to see is perhaps the addition of better Ad targeting, Ad analytics in Twitter’s Ad Manager, that would encourage advertisers to spend more, if they can achieve better ROI and click-through rates. As an agency, we would have preferred the inclusion of Twitter Blue features for free, to all users.

This is only the opinion of somebody who has been on Twitter for both pleasure and work for the better half of a decade, and experienced how gatekeeping certain features between users adds further to the cultural divide we live in today.

What do you think? Will you be subscribing to Twitter Blue when it becomes available in the UK? Connect with us on our Twitter 😉 at @RewardAgency or follow us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or even TikTok and let us know.

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