No matter how you’re feeling about Elon Musk and his numerous tasks and stances, at the very least he’s constant. Properly, in a enterprise administration context, at the very least.
Again in June final 12 months, in an interview The Kilowatts, Elon mentioned his plans for Twitter, which was properly earlier than he really took possession of the platform.
In that interview, Musk outlined his plans for a paywall bypass system, which might allow Twitter customers to pay for one-off articles in-app, versus subscribing to varied publications.
That’s now turning into a actuality, with Musk asserting over the weekend that Twitter will quickly allow publications to cost Twitter customers for entry per article in-stream.
Rolling out subsequent month, this platform will enable media publishers to cost customers on a per article foundation with one click on.
This permits customers who wouldn’t join a month-to-month subscription to pay a better per article value for once they wish to learn an occasional article.…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2023
Which sounds attention-grabbing, proper? As Musk says, perhaps that’ll present one other means for publications to earn money from people who find themselves by no means going to turn out to be subscribers, however may pay for an article right here or there.
Sounds attention-grabbing in principle, proper?
Besides, this very mannequin has already been tried, and abandoned, many times, by numerous publications and platforms as they search new monetization alternatives.
The important thing drawback? By providing smaller, one-off funds for single article entry, that then de-values subscriptions, that are much more priceless for media entities. Positive, not all people’s going to turn out to be a subscriber, however a portion of their viewers will, and if these few now not have to subscribe to entry content material, that then signifies that your per-article mannequin must ship much more, with a purpose to change that misplaced subscription income.
Each previous experiment has discovered that this finally ends up resulting in a web loss for publishers versus the subscription system, which is why, attempt as many have, this method doesn’t work, and can fail once more on Twitter.
Although there was one firm that provided an analogous program, which really did ship advantages for publishers and readers alike – and it’s owned by Twitter.
Twitter acquired Scroll back in 2021, which supplied a means for customers to pay a month-to-month subscription payment that may then be re-shared with publishers whose content material you engaged with, enabling customers to learn extra articles on-line, without having particular person subscriptions to every supplier.
Scroll was primarily targeted on offering an ad-free studying expertise, versus bypassing paywalls, as such. However the mannequin may primarily perform in that means as properly, and Twitter had numerous workers from Scroll on its group when Elon took over on the app.
However he fired them, together with 1000’s of different inside specialists who knew methods to make one thing like this work.
However, however, Elon’s assured that he is aware of finest anyway, which is why he’s now pushing ahead with one other mission that possible gained’t work, in defiance of all typical knowledge and expertise.
Which, for good or dangerous, is the Elon Musk means.
Again in November, in his first weeks of settling into his new position as chief of Twitter, Musk outlined his key areas of focus for the platform, and the initiatives that he had in thoughts to reform the Twitter expertise.
A kind of first plans was his $8 verification program, which, on the time, many individuals stated wouldn’t work. And it hasn’t. Regardless of all of Musk’s numerous efforts to push Twitter Blue take-up, fewer than 800k users – or 0.32% of Twitter’s total consumer base – have signed as much as Twitter Blue up to now, whereas its $1,000 monthly Verification for Organizations program additionally doesn’t seem like faring a lot better.
However Elon’s sticking with them. Regardless of the poor take-up, that means that neither program is more likely to attain his authentic objectives, Elon’s pushing forward, and dealing on new methods to maximise subscription income, nevertheless he can.
Primarily, Musk determined early on that this was one of the simplest ways to go, and he’s going to maintain pushing, until it’s both clearly a failure, or it’s not.
All through his profession, this has really been certainly one of Elon’s strengths, having the self-belief and fortitude to go in opposition to typical knowledge, and push by way of with initiatives that others would possible advocate in opposition to. He’s seen success with this strategy in his different firms – when Tesla was advised that batteries were simply too expensive to produce, which was the accepted knowledge primarily based on previous experiments, Musk tasked the Tesla group to interrupt down the method into particular steps, then discover the place value efficiencies may very well be gained.
And he was proper. Tesla was finally capable of produce cheaper batteries, a key stumbling block for EVs previously, and it’s this strategy, which Musk himself referred to as ‘first principles’ thinking, that he takes into each mission, breaking down every course of to its core components in an effort to search out the simplest methods to maximise efficiency.
It is smart, to a point. However in social media apps, you’re not coping with binary elements, you’re coping with actual individuals, and behavioral shifts are a lot tougher to affect than scientific optimizations.
That’s why this new mission possible gained’t work, the identical as Twitter Blue, the identical as Group Notes at scale – the identical as each mission that Elon has applied up to now as ‘options’ to long-standing issues on the app.
At some scale, they’ll ship, and on some fronts, they’ll look to be working. However on a broader foundation, amongst a whole lot of thousands and thousands of customers, in numerous areas, and all utilizing the app in numerous methods, none of those initiatives is definitely going to resolve the challenges that Musk and Co. counsel.
After all, there’s an irony right here, in that I’m writing an article about how this gained’t work, whereas highlighting that Elon has been capable of ship previously by countering naysayers like me. In that sense, I do additionally should additionally settle for that perhaps I’m fallacious, and perhaps, Musk sees one thing that I don’t, and he can really make these shifts occur. However as famous, coping with individuals, and the way they work together, is a really completely different proposition, which isn’t as straightforward to resolve for as mechanical science.
However Elon’s going to push forward. As a result of that’s what he does.
It appears to me that this has turn out to be a key flaw in his Twitter strategy, with Elon deciding way back on one of the simplest ways ahead for the app, which he’s now dedicated himself to, regardless of the state of affairs altering over time, and the outcomes displaying that they’re merely not sticking. Musk’s self-assuredness has additionally meant that he’s sacked and/or alienated many specialists with data that may assist, like the previous leaders from Scroll who perceive the complexities of on-line content material monetization higher than anybody.
Elon has mainly dismissed all exterior opinion, and is pushing ahead with tasks which were examined and failed many instances earlier than.
Perhaps, although, the end result might be completely different this time. However then once more, in all probability not.