A job listing by Twitter reveals the company’s plans for a subscription based platform. They’re recruiting web engineers to work on a “subscription-based platform”.
The internal team working on this project, codenamed “Gryphon” will work closely with Twitter’s payment and twitter.com team to build a paid platform that “can be reused by other teams in future”. This will the first time Twitter’s doing anything like this.
Twitter hasn’t still made a statement on what this platform will offer. In fact, we don’t even have a clear word on when this will release or if it will release.
But it’s clear what’s forcing Twitter to look into this direction. And why Subscriptions are probably the best answer.
Spoiler: this is not the first time Twitter has considered making a subscription service.
But before we go into all that, let’s clear this out:
Will you have to pay to use Twitter one day?
tl;dr: NO. Never. You’ll be shown ads but Twitters will remain accessible to everyone regardless of financial status.
Twitter believes putting a paywall doesn’t align with its core product values: being fast, broad and personalised, and generating discussions.
“We believe that there’s a real importance that Twitter is accessible to everyone in the world no matter what their economic status is.”
So why does Twitter have to work on a subscription based platform?
Currently, the advertising and data licensing pay the bills for Twitter. With ads accounting to nearly 84% of their revenue.
But since 2020, the social network’s advertising revenue hasn’t been any good.
COVID-19 has hit the advertising revenue bad.
Despite a 24% surge in monthly active users, the revenue went up just 3%, the smallest increment in last 2 years. Bringing Twitter a loss of $7M.
To worsen the issue, Twitter’s activist investors keep pushing CEO Jack Dorsey to bring revenue back to normal with operational changes.
Why subscription is a good solution
In these times, Twitter is desparately looking for new ways to get back to profitability. And subscription-based services are a good option.
Because they’ve already considered such an option back in 2017, when their revenue was in a similar condition of loss.
In 2017, Twitter ran a survey asking a number of users if they’d like to pay a certain amount to access an advanced version of Twitter’s TweetDeck tool.
If you don’t know, TweetDeck is Twitter’s dashboard app that lets you manage and tweet from multiple twitter accounts and schedule tweets from a single column based interface.
Although it’s currently free to use, mainly professionals like marketers, and brands use it.
Most regular Twitter users don’t even know what TweetDeck is because Twitter never focused on marketing or updating it.
But when in 2017, Twitter was searching for a profitable source of revenue, it found TweetDeck to be worth testing.
And ran some surveys about it.
What will premium TweetDeck offer?
The survey also mentioned what features the premium version will have. Advanced analytics like audience insights, tool to monitor multiple timelines from multiple accounts.
And no, you can’t still edit tweets.
Okay, how much will it cost?
No one has a sure word on the pricing. The survey showed different prices to different participants because folks at Twitter might be testing which pricing works best. Andrew Tavani who revealed some more information about this survey says the survey mentioned the price as $19.99 while TechCrunch’s Travis Bernard says it was $4.99 for him.
So the price must be somewhere between $5 and $20. (Around the sum Twitter would’ve to pay you, if the data dividend project is successful).
Twitter never revealed the results of that survey. But most probably, it wasn’t that good. Because Twitter never implemented the idea.
Will it ever turn into a reality?
I think yes. But not anytime this year. Probably next year.
Because Twitter is recruiting engineers rather than surveying, this time. They’ve got it planned. It’s time for the execution.
But maybe Twitter will make a subscription for regular users who want an ad-less and tracking-free environment instead of an “advanced TweetDeck”. Possibly, support for custom themes for Twitter interface.
Anyways, here’s what a Twitter spokesperson told The Verge:
“it’s only a job posting, not a product announcement.”
It is similar to what Twitter said back in 2017:
“We’re conducting this survey to assess the interest in a new, more enhanced version of Tweetdeck. We regularly conduct user research to gather feedback about people’s Twitter experience and to better inform our product investment decisions, and we’re exploring several ways to make Tweetdeck even more valuable for professionals.”
How many will join?
In 2017, when speculations of a subscription-based Twitter platform cooked up because of the survey, an analyst Mark Zgutowicz said the initial market for that service (advanced TweetDeck) will be somewhere around 10 million, which is ~3% of Twitters monthly active users.
But if Twitter makes a subscription service for regular users and not just the pros, there’ll be many more getting the subscription happily. But yeah, it depends greatly on what the premium twitter will have to offer.
Remembered the job listing mentioned in the beginning? Twitter changed that soon after it got media coverage. Here’s original listing:
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