As Twitter boss Elon Musk faces advertiser flight and brewing controversy over his layoff of thousands of Twitter employees, including 15% of its Trust and Safety staff, he took to Twitter Spaces to respond to questions and deliver his take on the last few weeks. We’re sharing six takeaways based on participants’ questions below.
Musk knows that his personal brand is co-mingled with Twitter’s—and that it can be an issue.
“Twitter cannot simply be some extension of me because then anyone who doesn’t agree with me will be put off. So, Twitter must be as a platform as neutral as possible. That doesn’t mean I am. But it is important to have broad acceptance, and the platform be neutral and as inclusive as possible to the widest demographic possible. That is the only path to success”.
Brands want scale, relevance, brand safety, suitability and the ability to measure ROI: Twitter has got some serious work to do in these areas.
“I think we’re probably not doing great on any of them. We’re doing okay on some (of these); we’re terrible at relevance. And one of the ways we’re going to address that is by integrating ads into recommended tweets. So the relevance of recommended tweets is much better than the relevance of the ads. Because they’re two different engines, we need to have them be the same software stack. So I’ve reorganized Twitter software from having three different software groups to having one, that’s occurred just in the past week. So we really need to improve the relevance of the ads. If an ad is highly relevant and timely, then it’s really information. Like, it’s something you might actually want to buy when you want to buy it, that’s great. But if it’s something you’d never want to buy, then it’s annoying. And it’s spam. And that doesn’t serve the advertiser or the user. So that’s incredibly important to improve that. So that’s a major priority. And I think you’ll see that get way better in the coming months.”
Musk sees brand safety as a key driving factor in advertisers’ willingness to work with Twitter.
“When I hear brand safety, what I think I’m hearing is that we need to make sure that the brand overall is protected reputationally in the long term. So that, you know, there may be something that drives short-term sales, but it’s next to hateful content. And that may drive short-term sales, but it’s ultimately detrimental in the long term. So if I would put myself in the CEO / CMO position of any advertiser, I’d say, ‘Well, I want to make sure we do drive sales in the short term, but we’re also not doing anything that damages our reputation in the long term.’ So we obviously need to address both shorter and long-term factors.“
Video is a key area that Musk plans to develop on Twitter and eventually connect to verified profiles
“Video is definitely an area where Twitter has been historically weak, and it is an area that we’re going to invest in tremendously. I did ask people what (they thought) about Vine, not that we would want to resurrect Vine in its original state, but just would they want a ‘Vine-like’ thing, but reimagined for the future. And people were excited about that,” Musk said.
He continued on the topic of increasing video length for verified Twitter users: “There are a bunch of fundamental tech technology architecture changes needed at Twitter to support significant video. So, we’ve got to make those core software upgrades and server upgrades to support a large amount of video, but we are going to do that. It’s kind of a no-brainer.”
Musk envisions Twitter as a future ecosystem for content creators to monetize their content and manage earnings easily
“We also need to enable the monetization of content for creators. And if we provide creators with the ability to post what they create on our platform, and to monetize it, at a rate that is at least competitive with the alternatives, then, of course, creators will natively post their content on Twitter; why not? So those are, those are kind of no-brainer moves. Then – tied to paid verified accounts from someone who has been authenticated by the sort of conventional payment system. Now we can say like, okay, you’ve got a balance on your account. Do you want to send money to someone or money to someone else [on] Twitter? And maybe we pre-populate the account and say, ‘Okay, we’re gonna give you 10 bucks, and you can send it anywhere within Twitter. Then if you want to execute, get it out of the system, then, okay, well, now you send it to bank accounts, attach an authenticated bank account to your Twitter account, then the next step would be this offer an extremely compelling money market account to get an extremely high yield on your balance, then why not move cash into Twitter? And then add debit cards, checks and whatnot. And I think it will just basically make the system as useful as possible. And the more useful and entertaining it is, the more people will use it.“
Musk sees Twitter as a future hub of one-click social shopping
“We’ve got a lot to do on the software side, I can’t emphasize that enough. So we’ve got to write a lot of code here. And we’ve got to change a bunch of the existing code base. We want advertising to be highly relevant and timely. How do we get the ad to be as close to content as possible? I mean, if you are shown an opportunity to buy something that you actually want when you want it, that’s great. That’s content. Then from a commerce standpoint, if you’re able to buy things quickly, you know, effortlessly on Twitter, with one click, that’s like—that’s great. Like, the more we don’t want to make buying things inconvenient or require, you know, going through many steps, the easier it is to get to obtain the product or service that you want, the better it is for the user.“