8 September 2023 902 words, 4 min. read

Can X /Twitter regain advertisers’ trust?

By Pierre-Nicolas Schwab PhD in marketing, director of IntoTheMinds
Linda Yaccarino's appointment as head of Twitter marks a turning point, symbolized by the social network's name change (X). The new CEO's priority will be to restore advertisers' confidence. In France, 63.5% of advertisers have abandoned Twitter, whose revenues have fallen by 80%.

What will be left of Twitter in the long run? Many had given it up for dead, but in the end, it’s still here. Its new name has sparked some passionate verbal jousting. Some have threatened to leave for good, but the number of monthly active users has never been higher (237 million). What if Musk’s recipe was to get people talking about his social network at all costs?

8 figures that illustrate the setbacks (and successes) of the new Twitter

  • 62,5% of Twitter’s 1,000 most significant customersno longer advertise on Twitter
  • -80%: the drop in Twitter’s advertising revenue in France
  • 82,6%of employees made redundant: Twitter went from 7,500 to 1,300 employees
  • -55%: Twitter’s valuation fell from $44 billion to $20 billion. Elon Musk himself says so.
  • 640000people subscribed to the $8/month premium offer. It was a failure.
  • Only 1 million subscribersleft Twitter for Mastodon. A drop in the bucket.
  • Only 50,000 subscribersleft for BlueSky.
  • 237 millionmonthly active users

It’s a fact that Elon Musk has a rare gift: the ability to get people talking about him, both good and bad. The man to whom everything seems to smile at the head of Tesla has multiplied his outbursts and gaffes at the head of Twitter. His takeover of the bluebird came at the worst possible time when the floodgates of helicopter money were closing. Investors now expect tangible proof of profitability from technology companies. Their patience for positive results has been drastically reduced. And although Twitter is no longer listed on the New York Stock Exchange, Elon Musk’s co-investors (the banks!) are demanding accountability. This no doubt explains the whimsical South African’s decision to appoint Linda Yaccarino as head of what is now called “X.”

Linda Yaccarino + Elon Musk Twitter

Linda Yaccarino’s No. 1 challenge: restore advertiser confidence

Linda Yaccarino’s main challenge will be to restore advertiser confidence. This is THE priority for the new CEO, quite simply because it’s the only real source of revenue for Twitter / X. To give an idea of the challenge that awaits her, two figures suffice:

  • 625 of the 1,000 most significant advertisers have withdrawn their advertising budgets from Twitter.
  • In France, Twitter’s advertising revenues have plummeted by 80%.

Why such disaffection? Quite simply because of Elon Musk himself, one might be tempted to say. His whimsical personality and extreme opinions aren’t X’s strengths. Moreover, he has undermined confidence in its broadcast content by decimating Twitter’s staff. Extreme opinions abound, and awful images and videos are legion. This scares advertisers, who don’t want to associate their brand with content that could damage them.

Twittwer smartphone with X logo

X: Strategic name change to mark a new beginning

It’s in this context that the name change should be placed. “X” (Twitter’s new name) marks the end of the Musk era. Sometimes, all you need to do is change your name, and you’ll be forgotten. And that’s what is happening.

A CEO (a woman respected in the profession) has taken over the company’s reins. Twitter has become X to mark the beginning of a new era. Everything is in place for a new beginning. With Musk less of a threat, Linda Yaccarino will be fine bringing back the advertisers she knows so well since they were already her customers when she was head of advertising at NBC Universal. But she’ll have to show more than a name change to convince advertisers to return to X. In a rare effort at transparency, Musk had revealed part of the recipe for his recommendation algorithms (once accused of creating filter bubble). But the real technical challenge will be moderation.

Twitter moderation

The priority technical challenge: moderation

Without moderation, Twitter/X becomes a formidable sounding board for extremists and those seeking to misinform. Between extreme opinions and “fake news,” this social network has probably never been so decried. Advertisers hate it. Whether Elon Musk likes it or not, X must mellow out to regain its customers’ trust. This may be where generative AI is handy, provided it reinvests in research and moderation.

In any case, a solution cannot be found in the short term. Musk has broken his $44 billion toy, which will take time to repair. His vision of an all-purpose WeChat-like application is only worthwhile once the moderation problem is solved.


A WeChat-inspired all-purpose app: a fad

Would you run your life on an app whose foundations are rooted in the propagation of extreme content? What would you say if your bank continuously broadcast content that was each more polarizing than the last? It would be best if you left because it doesn’t fit your image of a bank. The same goes for X.

Its image is so degraded that it will be difficult to associate with an application that could greatly impact your life, as with WeChat in China. And then, even if this app were to be launched one day, what fate would the regulators have in store for it? At a time when GAFAM is being criticized for its stranglehold on people’s digital lives, would it be reasonable to let an existing app extend its grip?

Twitter conclusion

In conclusion

In conclusion, Twitter has been renamed X to mark a new beginning and usher in the post-Musk era. But bringing back advertisers and filling Twitter’s coffers will take more than that. All of Musk’s small initiatives have been financial failures, and only content moderation and the fight against misinformation could help X regain the trust of its customers. A more consensual image is also necessary if Musk wants to launch his all-purpose app inspired by WeChat.

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