Two blue paper birds on a speech bubble - Twitter Super Follow concept

Is Twitter's New Paid Subscription Really All That Super?

7 minute read
David Roe avatar
Twitter announced a new paid feature called Super Follow. While it has the potential to be a useful marketing tool, it's unclear whether it will work or not.

At the end of last week, Twitter held its previously announced 2021 Analyst Day. While these kinds of events are generally for investors and other people interested in the financing of a company, this one also saw Twitter announcing two major capabilities, albeit ones that have, as yet no, scheduled release date.

The biggest and most significant of the releases is the introduction of Super Follows, while the other one called Communities will offer the ability to create and join groups based around specific interests.

Twitter’s Future Goals

There were many takeaways from the day, but in terms of future development, Twitter’s plans were best summed up in an SEC filing on Feb.25th. The filing outlined the three following goals:

  • Double the development velocity by the end of 2023, which means doubling the number of features shipped per employee that directly drive monetizable daily active Twitter users (mDAU).
  • Reach at least 315 million daily active Twitter users in Q4 2023, which represents a 20% compound annual growth rate from the base of 152 million mDAU reported in Q4 2019 — the most recently reported mDAU when Twitter first announced this ambition in March of 2020.
  • At least double total annual revenue from $3.7 billion in 2020 to $7.5 billion or more in 2023.

Twitter Set To Add Super Followers & Communities

There is clearly a lot of work to be done, but already the unveiling of Super Followers and Communities responds to the first of the three bullet points. A presentation given by Kayvon Beykpour, product lead at Twitter and Dantley Davis, head of design and research,  shows that Super Follows is a paid feature that gives Twitter users that want it, access to additional content.

According to the presentation, the new feature will cost $4.99 per month — there is no indication of whether there will be enterprise, or group rates — and will enable users to follow their favorite, or most useful contents of a given Twitter member and comes with a supporter badge, exclusive content, deals, and discounts, a subscriber-only newsletter, and community access. This is also the first paid feature that Twitter is offering to users and is an increasingly important way of raising revenues for other social media sites.  In this respect, think of the paid content offerings from the likes of Patreon, Facebook, YouTube and even GitHub.

The other addition is Communities, which is like Groups on other social networks like Facebook. Using it, twitter members will be able to create and join groups around specific interests allowing them to see more tweets focused on those topics. According to Twitter, it will make it “easier for people to form, discover, and participate in conversations that are more targeted to the relevant communities or geographies they’re interested in.

Related Article: What's Working in B2B Social Media Marketing?

Building on Social Media Content Model

The Super Follow idea is an interesting update on the social content model and one that holds validity and value for users who only follow the content created by a handful of their favorite creators, Bernard May, CEO of Westlake Village, Calif.-based National Positions.  

And while this feature may seem new for many it is simply a more public "up-front" version of the Patreon-type content model many creators use  providing additional or higher value content to subscribers. “Having personally seen threads on creators' profiles of followers already saying they would absolutely pay for twitter content from them is a good sign of support for the move. If the content holds high enough value, followers will have no reason to shift to other platforms if that creator is not creating content on those platforms.

“Remember, many don't just follow the content, they follow the creator of that content. The creators themselves hold the attention over and above the content. I believe this system will work and may also push would-be creators to improve their content game,” he said.

Will This Move Limit Users on the Platform?

However, it may not really be effective as it could limit the number of users that will likely use the platform. Right now, Twitter is an open forum where anyone (from all walks of life) can join and share their opinion, Vanessa Francone, marketing and PR Manager at Toronto-based FUSE Create, said. She points out that currently, you do not need money to share your opinion or most importantly, learn from thought leaders, and this allows greater ease of access. Twitter comes with its bot accounts and “trolls” but that is inevitable with any social media platform. However, to make people pay for content that they have been getting for free since the beginning seems like a negative change.

Learning Opportunities

“I would be curious to see what the subscription offers and how it will work — is there certain parts that are worth money?” she asks? “I understand they are trying to act as a “super” social platform, combining audio, visual and communities in one. If executed well, I would definitely do a trial run.”

However, she also points out that many people in the workplace use multiple social platforms for different purposes. She cites the example of Clubhouse the new podcast audio hub, Instagram for go-to for image content or YouTube, which offers more in-depth videos. So, can Twitter match that?

Email Marketing Contrasts

A quick look across the Web also shows that the announcement has been met with a mixed response and that not everyone is convinced that it will work. It also must compete with email marketing firms that have been operating since the very first services. Patrick Gillooly is marketing director at Boston-based Constant Contact. He said that by offering a subscription-based option with Super Follows, Twitter is leaning into a concept that seasoned email marketers have known for years — consumers want great content, and they are willing to go the extra mile to ensure they get it.

Social media networks have long been adept at enabling users to share content with each other, but the challenge for brands is still personalizing that experience for the user when the network is designed to appeal to everyone, he said. There is no way for them to curate a unique and branded experience when sending a Tweet or making a post, and that is often the piece that users remember most.

This contrasts to email marketing, which he says, is a better way for brands to not only engage their customers on a 1:1 basis, but also to deliver the type of experience they want to be known for. “As our collective time spent online continues to rise, we’re seeing the value of that email marketing model expand to other channels,” he said.

“Consumers expect that level of personalization from businesses, and they want a consistent experience regardless of where they are spending their time — even if it means paying more for it. It’s not a surprise that Twitter recognizes this and came up with a way to provide its users with a way to opt-into a similar experience on their platform.”

Super Follow sounds like any digital marketer's dream come true, Tim Denman, chief sales office at Phoenix-based ServGrow, concluded. It seems like you can have everything you need in one place. “However, when you think of Twitter, you think of short content. Straight to the point, no BS, and you get what you need to know in less than 280 characters,” he said.

“What made Twitter so popular was people knew exactly what they were going to get in the fastest time possible. With something like Super Follow rolling out, I think it raises a lot of questions if this program will slow down the company processes."

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