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Is Musk putting the twit back into Twitter?

We all know that Elon Musk bought Twitter (with a good deal of drama surrounding the purchase). Recently, Musk has reinstated banned accounts, relaxing Twitter's once stricter controls. Musk has done all of this in the name of free speech, creating much debate.
Source © Ufuk Uyanik  Craig Hanabus says it’s very likely that Twitter is dead
Source © Ufuk Uyanik 123rf Craig Hanabus says it’s very likely that Twitter is dead

His blue tick verification feature failed miserably, with scammers purchasing the paid subscriber checkmarks to impersonate brands and celebrities. Elon also circulated an ultimatum-like mail asking that staff work long hours to achieve his vision of Twitter 2.0 or take three months severance. Raised eyebrows all around.

Knee-jerk reactions to failed ideas

Twitter’s new direction has gotten some attention in the Apple and Google camps (possibly leading to the app being banned), which in turn has spurred Musk to start thinking about rolling out his own phone. These feel less like inspired strategic decisions and more like a series of knee-jerk reactions to failed ideas and criticism.

The strange thing is that Twitter’s trajectory before the takeover was on a steady downward trend. In the 2 years leading up to the takeover, many ‘heavy’ tweeters (the 10% who are responsible for 90% of the platform’s content) had abandoned the platform.

Oddly, Musk noted this himself in a tweet he posted in April. A piece of research conducted by Reuters also found that English-speaking users had shifted their interests to crypto and pornography, which made the platform less than appealing to advertisers.

The next WeChat?

So, to summarise, Musk bought a platform for $44bn which, based on revenue and profits from the last three years, is only worth $13bn.

The workforce has been ‘streamlined’ and the new policies around freedom of speech have created a somewhat rigorous debate.

According to Musk, Twitter is the accelerant towards the ‘everything app’, similar to China’s WeChat. Where does the Metaverse fit into this picture? It doesn’t. Musk tweeted that Web3 sounds like ‘bs’.

I want to try and compare Musk to other great entrepreneurs, but I can’t. When Richard Branson founded Virgin Atlantic, he did the numbers, he put together an MVP, and when it worked, he launched. From a distance it may look like he had the same left-of-centre bravado that Musk has, but he seems far more strategically minded. Having said that, Musk and Branson are friends, so birds of a feather?

Genuis or rich lunatic?

Steve Jobs? Known for his focus. He built Apple through discipline, dedication, and single-mindedness. Once again, this is a trait that Musk seems to lack. Musk has said that he admired Jobs (but I’m not sure if admiration includes inspiration).

Is Elon Musk a genius? Or is he a rich lunatic? Is he demonstrating how we’ve strayed from the principles of freedom of speech? Or has he created a platform for the unstable to destabilise an already fragile society? Is he a cunning businessman, capable of seeing opportunity where none seems to exist? Or is he just investing money in a state of nonsensical whimsy?

Either way, it’s very likely that Twitter is dead, and as a marketer I’m glad. It’s one less social platform to worry about.

About Craig Hannabus

Craig is the strategy director at Rogerwilco. His most recent career history, which spans more than 15 years, is dominated by digital - before that he worked in logistics.

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