Twitter has made good on its promise to launch a subscription service. The social media platform officially launched its first paid subscription service last week. Twitter Blue is now available in Canada and Australia, priced at $3.49 and $4.49 in local currency, respectively, for in-app purchases on Twitter for iOS. It is not yet available for Android. Though the new subscription option is being tested in the U.S., Twitter Blue is not currently available here, and Twitter has not disclosed a timeframe for its U.S. launch.
Twitter Blue features
In exchange for a monthly subscription fee, expected to be $2.99 a month in the U.S., a Twitter Blue subscription will give subscribers access to premium features, including:
- An Undo Tweet function that gives users 30 seconds to remove a tweet before it is published to the masses. Unlike the delete feature, which is free, undoing a tweet removes it from the platform entirely. It is likely editing a preview of a tweet before it goes live.
- Bookmark Folders so Twitter users can organize the tweets they want to save.
- A Reader Mode, similar to nested conversations in email programs, that makes it easier for Twitter users to follow long threads
- Customizable Twitter app icons for their phones
- Color themes within the Twitter app
- Dedicated customer service
“We’ve heard from the people that use Twitter a lot, and we mean a lot, that we don’t always build power features that meet their needs. Well, that’s about to change. We took this feedback to heart, and are developing and iterating upon a solution that will give the people who use Twitter the most what they are looking for: access to exclusive features and perks that will take their experience on Twitter to the next level,” said Sara Beykpour, senior director, product management, and Smita Gupta, senior product manager, for Twitter in a June 3, 2021 blog post.
“And for those wondering, no, a free Twitter is not going away, and never will. This subscription offering is simply meant to add enhanced and complementary features to the already existing Twitter experience for those who want it,” Beykpour and Gupta added.
For more than a year, Twitter has said that it plans to diversify its revenue streams to become less dependent on advertising revenue. In the first quarter of 2021, Twitter reported total revenue of $1.04 billion with $137 million (13.3%) coming from data licensing and other revenue and $899 million (86.7%) coming from advertising. The company has cited subscriptions as a critical part of their growth strategy and, from time to time, they’ve tested and hinted at subscription features that could be available, but haven't given a lot of detail. One of the best resources for this information has been Twitter user and tipster Jane Manchun Wong. In May, Manchun Yong posted a screenshot of some of the proposed features.
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Other subscriptions coming to Twitter
In May, Twitter confirmed that they were working on a paid subscription option that would provide subscribers with a clutter-free news experience. This will be made possible through their acquisition of Scroll.
“…we plan to include Scroll as part of an upcoming subscription offering we’re currently exploring. As a Twitter subscriber, picture getting access to premium features where you can easily read articles from your favorite news outlets or a writer’s newsletter from Revue, with a portion of your subscription going to the publishers and writers creating the content,” said Mike Park, vice president of product, in a May 4 blog post.
Tomorrow, paid weather news subscription
Last week, Twitter launched Tomorrow, a paid weather news subscription service. Partnering with climate journalist and meteorologist Eric Holthaus, Tomorrow will include local newsletters, drop-in audio chats during dramatic weather events, original journalism centered around climate justice, and a paid service that will let people ask unlimited questions and get answers from meteorologists.
“Our goal is to share the joy of being alive at this particular moment in history, and be there with you no matter what the weather. When the weather gets scary, we’ll have a team of experts to talk you through it. When there’s injustice happening somewhere that needs more attention, we’ll let you know about it. When there’s a project or idea that could use your help, we’ll ask you to pitch in if you want to. Our goal is to change the narrative of our shared Tomorrow. The bottom line is: The climate is changing, and it’s going to take all of us to build a better world that works for everyone. Tomorrow is going to be great, and we’re so happy that you’re a part of it,” says the Tomorrow website.
At launch, Tomorrow will focus on 16 cities and regions including Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, San Antonio, San Francisco, Toronto, Washington, D.C. and Republica Dominicana.
The subscription newsletter will be sent via Revue, a platform Twitter acquired earlier this year. Subscriptions are $10 a month, but there is currently a promotion offering a 50% discount for the first seven months.
Paid members will receive the following:
- Ability to ask Tomorrow’s team of meteorologists unlimited weather and climate questions with guaranteed responses
- A members-only weekly newsletter with uncut interviews
- Early access to podcast episodes and original longform journalism
- Discounts on Tomorrow merch and other members-only perks
- 1% of all member revenue will used to support Environmental Justice organizations. The more members they have, the bigger the impact.
In a February 25 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Twitter confirmed its long-term goals. Among them was doubling total annual revenue from $3.7 billion in 2020 to $7.5 billion in 2023. Also, the social media platform wants to reach at least 315 million monetizable daily active users by the fourth quarter of 2023, representing a compound annual growth rate of about 20%.
We find it interesting that this is being touted as Twitter’s “first” paid subscription service. It was announced on June 3. The very next day, the company launched Tomorrow, so “first ever” seems like a bit of a stretch. We’ll grant them some grace on this one. The bigger question is are features offered by a Twitter Blue subscription worth $3 a month. I am a daily Twitter user, and I can live without the app icon customization on my phone and the color themes on screen. The bookmarks folder and reader mode could be useful for power users.
What I find worth the $3 is the undo button. Sure, you can hit the delete button, but that doesn’t really delete your tweet. Some people will still see it in their feeds, at least until they logout and log back into Twitter – and who ever really logs out? I would gladly pay $3 for an undo button, for those times when I hit tweet/post/publish a little too quickly, and I don’t see the typo til after. I don’t know if Twitter Blue is going to attract a lot of attention, but it is a good place to start, and all successful subscription companies know that you have to test, try and tweak technology and features before they get the mix just right.