Is it too late to save Twitter?

Elon Musk has left it to his Twitter followers to decide if he should step down as CEO, as advertisers are wary about returning to the turbulent platform.

Searching “Elon Musk Twitter” into the PMW search bar reveals pages of news stories from the last year; he’s made it hard to keep up.

After a turbulent few months for the social media app, with revenues reaching over $5bn annually, is it too late to save the platform that relies so heavily on its advertisers?

Yesterday, 19 December, Elon Musk left it up to his 122 million followers to poll on whether he should step down as CEO, after share prices of Tesla, took a 22% dive this month, down 62% from November 2021.

With a 57.5% majority voting ‘Yes’, the question isn’t just whether he really will step down, but whether advertisers feel comfortable spending their ad budget back on the platform.

“Under Musk’s ownership, Twitter has been dogged by uncertainty. And, if there’s one thing advertisers need from platforms, it’s reassurance,” commented Thomas Walters, Co-founder and European CEO of Billion Dollar Boy to PMW.

“Although Musk’s departure may be a step in the right direction for restoring some trust amongst brands in the platform, it does however add even further uncertainty to its short term future. Who will be in charge? Once they’ve been put in place, how much operational influence will Musk continue to have? What will the updated content moderation policies look like? These are just some of the many questions advertisers will be asking, and the answers are unlikely to arrive soon.”

TikTok and BeReal encroach Twitter

“Even when the answers do come, it’s hard to say whether or not they will be enough to reassure advertisers that Twitter is a brand safe environment. Musk’s controversial new policies are just the tip of the iceberg for the growing challenges that await Twitter in the new year,” continued Walters.

“Although the economic landscape is predicted to gradually recover in 2023, we are still facing challenging times with the growth in brand spend slowing down. And, more specifically to Twitter, new and developing competitors such as BeReal and TikTok are taking social media market share and legacy platforms are also encroaching on Twitter’s USP – in particular Instagram launching its Notes feature. Twitter’s profitability is under attack from a number of angles and some significant changes are needed to win back the confidence of brands and key stakeholders.

“It may be too late”

Both celebrity and brand accounts with large followings, including Whoopi Goldberg and Coca-Cola, have left Twitter due to the lack of brand safety and content moderation on the app despite Musk reassurances.

L’Oreal suspended advertising on the platform, as half of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers have also seemingly left the platform.

“Until some of the questions lingering over Twitter under Musk’s tenure are answered, advertisers will continue to employ a wait and see approach – either leaving the platform altogether or pausing some or all of their spend on the platform.

“For Twitter, those leadership and policy changes cannot come soon enough to turn the tide on its current plight. And even then it may be too late. It’s much harder to attract brands and restore their faith in a platform than to retain them.”