Twitter is exploring subscription features to diversify its revenue streams and reduce its dependence on advertising revenue from sponsored posts, reports Bloomberg. While subscriptions have been part of the social media platform’s long-term plan, the company's subscription strategy began in earnest last summer when Twitter posted tech jobs to Twitter and LinkedIn, looking for software engineers to help with subscription platforms and projects.
Possible subscription features or monetization options
Ideas under consideration for platform monetization, subscription features and paid tools include the following:
- Ability to tip users in which Twitter would take a cut
- Profile customization such as customer colors
- “Undo” sending of tweets
- Subscription-based accessed to Tweetdeck
- Social listening tools
- Brand surveys
- Auto responses
- Profile badges
- A paid, ad-free option
According to Twitter’s fourth quarter 2020 earnings data, 85% of Twitter’s revenue comes from ads.
Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey discussed subscriptions as an option during a second quarter earnings call last July.
“We have a really high bar for when we would ask consumers to pay for aspects of Twitter. And this is a start and we’re in the very, very early phases of exploring…we have focused the majority of our attention on increasing revenue durability, meaning that we have multiple lines of revenue to pull from. But most importantly, we want to make sure that any new line of revenue is complementary to our advertising business. We do think there is a world where subscription is complementary,” Dorsey said on the company’s July 23, 2020 earnings call.
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Bloomberg quotes Bruce Falck, Twitter’s head of revenue products, who said the company’s primary objective is increasing revenue durability. This could include subscriptions, but the company is in the early exploratory stages.
Ned Segal, Twitter CFO, also addressed the idea of subscriptions in its fourth quarter 2020 earnings call held February 10, 2021
“While still early, we're also laying the foundation for more revenue from small and medium businesses, as well as non-advertising subscription-based revenue streams that we'll experiment with this year and see revenue from in a more meaningful way next year,” Segal said.
Dorsey did not confirm anything specific, but he said that Twitter is building out its teams to research and test different options on Twitter.
“I’m sure you all will see those tests and have the opportunity to participate or observe them. But I wouldn’t expect you to see these be meaningful contributors until next year,” Dorsey said. “…we love talking about subscriptions and the potential and the durability they can provide and predictability to our revenue streams, but we also maintain a big focus around our revenue products.”
It is clear that Twitter has its eye on other revenue streams, which are likely to include some sort of subscription features or monetization options, but it is too early for them to want to disclose much information. According to Social Media Today, they’ve been surveying Twitter users to see which features they’d be willing to pay for. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I would pay for an ad-free version, for the “undo send” option and for an edit button…please Twitter, can we have an edit button? With bright, innovative minds, who knows what they’ll come up with, or how it will play out with users, but we are eager to hear what they come up with.