Earlier this month, Twitter posted a job listing for a new position working on a project called ‘Gryphon’ which, the ad explained, would be focused on “building a subscription platform, one that can be reused by other teams in the future.”
Subscriptions for tweets? How would that work?
Twitter has since confirmed that it is indeed working on “subscriptions and other approaches” as potential revenue opportunities, and this week, some users have reported seeing a new Twitter survey which asks them about a range of potential options that they might be willing to pay for, another step towards the next stage for the project.
The options which could be made available via Twitter subscriptions include:
- Undo send – An option to recall your sent tweets within a 30-second window
- Custom color options – New ways to customize your Twitter profile presentation
- Advanced video publishing tools – The capacity to publish significantly longer videos in your tweets
- Profile badges – A profile badge that links back to your business/employer
- Auto replies – The capacity to add auto-response options to use in your tweet replies
- Social listening – More insights into your tweet engagement and discussion around your Twitter handle
- Brand surveys – An option to run surveys about your Twitter ads to get more feedback
- Custom stickers and hashtags – The capability to create custom stickers and ‘hashflag’ emoji-linked hashtags
- Job ads – Optional job ad listings
- Administrator role management – New options to define how staff/contractors can control Twitter your account
- Insights into other accounts – More analytics options, including the capacity to see all your past reactions with any account
- Education resources – Access to more Twitter training courses and tools
Probably not exactly what people had in mind when they first considered subscriptions for Twitter.
In addition to these, Twitter is also asking users if they’d be willing to pay to see no ads on the platform, which seems somewhat separate to these more business-focused options.
Definitely, this is not the direction I was expecting Twitter to go with on a potential subscription model. The framework which seemed to best fit was something similar to Facebook’s Fan Subscription tools which enable high-profile users to offer exclusives to paying subscribers, including specialized content, members-only discussion areas, discount options and more.
That could also work via tweets, especially with the introduction of Twitter’s new controls on who can reply to a tweet. That seemed to be the direction Twitter was headed – but these survey options seem more specifically aligned to brand use, and providing tools for businesses, not consumers, who are willing to pay for extra services.
Personally, I don’t find any of these options overly impressive.
For one, most of them you can already facilitate via other means:
- Custom color options are available in your account settings
- You can set up auto-replies in your DMs, while you can also set up template tweet replies in various social management platforms
- Social management platforms also facilitate social listening, as does Twitter’s own TweetDeck
- Brand surveys are already available for managed accounts in most regions
- Various third-party tools provide insights into other accounts, and there’s a Chrome extension which provides you with a listing of your interaction history with any account you view
- Twitter already provides a tweet education program in its Flight School
- Third-party management tools – as well as TweetDeck – also offer administration tools to manage posting permissions
So, given this, you’re now looking at:
- Undo send – Which Twitter has talked about previously, and could help to catch errors if it could ever work
- Longer videos – Do people want to watch longer tweet videos?
- Profile badges – Seems relatively minor – you can already include URLs and a description
- Custom stickers and hashflags – I don’t see how Twitter could offer these options at scale
- Job ads – No
Overall, given the availability of other tools and options, these don’t seem like overly enticing options, and I can’t imagine many brands would be willing to pay for such. Unless Twitter was to severely restrict its API, and stop third-party tools from providing these tools – but that would also largely go against CEO Jack Dorsey’s push for a more open internet.
But then again, maybe I’m missing the point – maybe the whole idea of this initial survey is just to put out the feelers and see what people might be interested in. Many new business users, in particular, wouldn’t be aware of the functionality of various third-party Twitter management apps, and maybe, having all of these tools and options in a centralized system would be better.
Maybe users just want these tools all built into the one platform. But would they actually pay for such?
Maybe. I guess.
In some ways, the proposals here reflect the issues Twitter faces because of its open, public nature. Facebook made much of its graph private, which essentially forces you to use its own management tools to get the best results. LinkedIn limits access – but Twitter is the most utilized API for third party management options simply because it both allows for such, and Twitter doesn’t provide great, native options for the same within its own product suite.
TweetDeck is the prime example – TweetDeck actually is a good, handy tweet management platform, but it’s been given limited focus by Twitter since it acquired it back in 2011. Even in that instance, a third-party developer created a better management tool than Twitter itself had – and really, if Twitter replicated all the functionality available in other Twitter analytics and management tools, and incorporated them into TweetDeck, then made all of it available for a small subscription fee, that would probably be a better option than what it appears to be proposing.
But it’s not necessarily proposing such yet. Again, this is early days, and Twitter is just testing the waters and seeing what people might want.
My response would be ‘none of this’, but we’ll wait and see what comes next.