It’s pretty hard to gauge what Musk’s intentions are for the social media platform, when he’s making headlines every other day.
This month has seen both celebrity and brand accounts with large followings, including Whoopi Goldberg and Balenciaga, leave Twitter due to the lack of brand safety and content moderation on the app despite Musk reassuring advertisers it won’t become a ‘free-for-all hellscape’.
One ad executive told the Financial Times “there's some quiet quitting going on” earlier this month, as L’Oreal suspended advertising on the platform.
And just last week Musk announced that he will grant ‘amnesty’ for all banned accounts, after asking his followers to vote in a poll, whilst Media Matters reported half of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers have at least seemingly left the platform.
Should Twitter offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 23, 2022
As Musk struggles to calm the waves in his first few months at the helm of Twitter, what will happen to the ad-reliant platform as its advertisers stop spending?
“If Elon is worried about Twitter’s business model and the sustainability of its revenue streams long-term, he would do better to focus less on subscriptions and more on creating a brand safe environment where content is properly moderated,” says Ed East, CEO and Co-founder of creator agency Billion Dollar Boy.
“The exodus of all types of brands from Twitter is a resounding rejection of Musk’s Wild West version of Twitter where anything goes. The problem for brands is the increased risk that their content appears next to unethical user-generated content. We previously saw some backlash to the lack of restrictions on other platforms such as YouTube which hosted ads on far right video content. But there was more of a sense at the time that YouTube had a handle on it and was prepared to make the changes needed to reassure brands.
“Fast forward to today and Twitter, on the other hand, has fallen into the same trap and failed to reassure stakeholders. In the absence of a proper content moderation policy – exacerbated by staff redundancies in that particular department – it’s no wonder that brands are pulling back on ad spend on the platform. In the era of the savvy consumer, these brands can scarcely afford to risk their reputations by appearing next to questionable content.”
TikTok and Meta picking up the advertisers
As advertisers are losing confidence in spending on Twitter, TikTok and Meta’s platforms will be looking to gain from Twitter’s losses.
Diaa Elyaacoubi, CEO of luxury e-commerce brand Monnier, says advertisers will likely flock to TikTok to capture the nearly four million active users in the UK who use the app for an average 41 minutes every day.
She comments: "TikTok must form a crucial part of a brand’s marketing strategy to better capture the attention of Gen-Z; a major spending generation with a purchasing power of approximately $360 billion. To build a brand on TikTok, it is important to invest now to build a community while it is less costly. At Monnier, we gained over 100,000 followers in less than six months, which simply wouldn’t be possible on social media like Instagram.
“The benefits of TikTok extend beyond marketing and into live shopping. Live shopping will become one of the most efficient forms of purchasing for the next generation of shoppers and online influencers. While TikTok has not launched its fully native payment platform, that is a question of when rather than if, and brands must look to invest as soon as possible in their live shopping capabilities.”
Heading for the exit door
Musk’s moments in the news are far from over yet. Is there still hope for Twitter or has the Chief Twit stuck an expiry date on the global social platform?
“Unless changes are made soon, I would expect many other brands to head for the exit door, and this could be highly damaging for Twitter,” adds East.
“It’s much harder to attract brands and restore their faith in a platform than to retain them. The loss of any more brands will spook investors and key stakeholders, damaging the platforms’ own reputation and its market value.”