As the saying goes: you get nothing in this world for free. So, with that in mind, it’s shocking that we’ve got so far into the lifespan of the internet without having to pay a toll every time we Tweet. Of course, that’s close to changing. We’re not quite at the point where we’re getting charged by the Tweet, but Musk does have a habit of enveloping new features into his new Twitter Blue subscription, and he has even moved on to taking existing features, important ones and including them in Twitter Blue. At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before pay by the Tweet is an option on the war room table that is in Musk’s volcano lair.
So, what does Meta have to do with it, and what will it mean for the future? Most importantly, what does it mean for affiliate marketing? We explore.
What is Twitter doing?
Twitter doesn’t make money. Elon Musk’s campaign to buy the social media platform told us that much. The company had been struggling for years, but was too big to fail. It was surviving on investors and marketing investments. Apparently that was enough to only just keep the ship floating, but it’s not enough for Elon Musk. He immediately got to work, mass firing half his workforce, reducing it down to a skeleton crew, and openly brainstorming ways to make money. He’s got to get his Tesla shares back after all.
And so, Twitter Blue was created. And Twitter Gold and Twitter Grey, but we’ll focus on Blue for now. So, in terms of what’s included in Twitter Blue, the opt-in monthly subscription of $8 a month offers the blue checkmark, which used to symbolise that a verification process had been established and the celebrity account you were engaging with was definitely them. Now, it’s just a blue checkmark that symbolises paying a subscription. It also allows you to edit a tweet, bookmark folders, custom app icons, NFT profile pictures, undo tweets, longer tweets, longer video uploads and more. Nothing too controversial yet.
Until you get to the bottom of that list and see that Twitter Blue also includes “SMS Two-factor authentication”.
Anything to do with the security of your account should naturally come without a price tag. The rest are features, but the latter is a necessity. A necessity that was previously offered under Twitter’s previous management and is offered by just about any other platform, website, or app that requires a sign in. From ordering toilet roll to running a business, two-factor authentication is the most basic requirement to keep your data safe.
And, as usual, Musk is pointing to “bad actors”, “bots” or “trolls” and saying, “Take it up with them”.
As explained by Twitter: “While historically a popular form of 2FA, unfortunately we have seen phone-number based 2FA be used – and abused – by bad actors. So, starting today, we will no longer allow accounts to enrol in the text message/SMS method of 2FA unless they are Twitter Blue subscribers. The availability of text message 2FA for Twitter Blue may vary by country and carrier.”
What is Meta doing?
Well, for an $11.99 a month subscription, Meta at least is offering ID verification, perhaps looking to become the site for sourced information from public figures and trends. It is also offering increased visibility and reach, dedicated account support (with what staff?), proactive monitoring for impersonation, exclusive stickers and 100 free Stars per month. So far, that isn’t impressing us. Stars and stickers? Like in pre-school? But at least it doesn’t cross any ethical lines yet.
What does it mean for affiliate marketers?
Let’s remember that Meta owns Facebook and Instagram. So, while there might not be many celebrities actively using their Facebook accounts, you can be sure to find them, plus influencers, brands, and affiliate marketers all on Instagram.
Asking all of these users, who make up a substantial chunk of the userbase on Instagram, to pay for features like verification, security, or, God forbid, more substantial features like posting, is going to shoot Meta in the foot. Small time brands and influencers simply won’t pay for a subscription. And, much like our own economy, the small timers make up around 99% of the influencer economy. Instead of gaining money from subscribers, we posit that Meta will simply see mass migration from influential users off of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
But then, where would they go?
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