On the 14th of April, Elon Musk put forward a proposition to acquire the social media company Twitter for $43 billion.
Elon had already acquired 9.1% of Twitter’s stock for $2.64 billion, which made him the largest shareholder.
On the 25th of April, the board of directors accepted a buyout of $44 billion, which means the company will be privatised. The acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk is currently pending approval from the relevant regulators and shareholders so it is not a done deal, however it is likely to go through.
As one of the largest social media platforms in the world, what does this mean for digital marketing, and how will it impact digital marketers and advertisers which advertise on the platform?
What could happen to Twitter?
It is still early days, but there are already indications of what may change with the platform.
One of the first announcements made was that the Twitter algorithm which ranks the order in which Tweets appear in a user’s home feed open source.
Elon also promised to get rid of spam bots and require authentication in order to determine whether users on the platforms are in fact actual humans.
There has also been indication that Twitter could indeed be bringing a long-awaited edit button to the platform.
Elon has been an advocate for free speech, with the intention of ensuring Twitter is a bastion of free speech. The flip side of what seems to be a positive change is that many people who have been deplatformed or suspended from using Twitter over the years could return. This could lead to a rise in hate speech and harassment on the platform.
However, could this lead to more extreme political discourse? Possibly. But if Twitter does not allow it, then they will flee to other platforms. There is definitely a discussion to be had about whether this means more people will find extremist political views attractive, but that is its own problem.
Reactions to the acquisition have been mixed. Many Twitter users have decided to stop using the platform, including some high profile users and celebrities. In fact, over 300,000 users deactivated accounts as a direct response to the news, as they disagree with proposed changes.
Aside from rockets and electric cars, Musk is no stranger to digital platforms and products, with PayPal in his past. Musk also made use of Twitter announcements in order to encourage users to purchase cryptocurrency, including the now infamous Dogecoin.
As for the future, he could be looking to use Twitter to take on Google and Meta in the realms of free speech and news. So we could see Twitter taking on Google and Meta head-on in the future.
How will future changes to Twitter impact digital marketing and paid social advertising?
The jury is still out – however the crackdown on Twitter bots and crypto scams which plague the platform will no doubt have a positive impact on the social network, improving the experience for users and making it a better place for brands to interact with their audiences.
With Musk advocating for free speech, Twitter will likely become less moderated. This could be a negative for brands on the platform, as users may be able to get away with more outlandish, unfiltered thoughts on the platform. In certain echo chambers, it could become much more toxic.
Despite this, Elon Musk is not a stupid man. Whatever your opinion on him may be, it’s unlikely he will want to implement changes which would have a negative impact on Twitter and its users. With his history in PayPal and online payments, it could prove to be invaluable experience and expertise in improving Twitter’s social commerce future. Twitter has long found it difficult to monetise the platform, and has not been as successful in the realms of advertising against the likes of Google and Meta. If Twitter as a platform can become a more viable competitor and engage more users, then advertising becomes an increasingly viable channel.
Twitter has been working on Twitter Shops for some time now – so the experience in the payments world could really bolster this offering and give brands a new way to attract an audience and generate new revenue streams.
All in all, with the might of such a high profile person at the helm that also happens to be somewhat rich, the future looks bright for the platform. No doubt Twitter will undergo changes for better or for worse, but it is likely it will be somewhat rejuvenated and go from strength to strength.