Death to DTC Twitter? Elon Musk’s direction causes fight or flight response amongst community
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It was October 28 when the world’s richest man purchased Twitter for $44 billion. For Elon Musk, the stated goal is to protect freedom of speech, creating a public space where users can share diverse opinions openly.
Almost immediately after the purchase, several changes have happened (or have been announced.)
First it was the news that Twitter has laid off almost half of its workforce (Meta this morning laid off 11,000 employees for what it’s worth,), claiming a profitability issue. Since then, every day or so, Musk has been announcing new features that are in the midst of being built.
Among those features are
- Allowing users to monetize their content
- Making long-form posts beyond Twitter’s well-known character limit
- Giving users the option to purchase verification for $8 per month
- Improving Twitter’s search function
While it’s still early on in the acquisition, folks are complaining on Twitter about Musk, his “sh*tposting” (for a lack of a better term), and these new changes (mostly the pay-for-verification issue.)
One community that’s specifically concerned is the Direct-to-Consumer one—a small subset of Twitter where founders, marketers, and operators of eCommerce technology and brands came together and built strong connections over the past several years.
It’s an echochamber, yes, but it’s an echochamber that has the pulse of the greater eCommerce community.
For the “DTC Twitter” community, Twitter became the primary tool to share thought leadership, meet like minded folks, and promote brand content.
It’s used as a resource for successful job searching. For writers, it’s one of the best ways to connect with subject matter experts to interview for a story. It’s also a channel for people with various expertise to voice their knowledge and grow their personal brands, turning them into micro influencers.
Yes, the platform has brought a multitude of benefits for those following DTC Twitter closely. That’s why these changes under Musk’s direction are causing a fight or flight response.
How these changes could impact DTC
Influencer marketing isn’t anything new. However, in the past year, on Twitter specifically, more eCommerce SAAS companies are working with DTC thought leaders to promote their apps.
These sponsorships have become an additional source of revenue for many. And with Musk’s proposed new features, marketers like Cody Plofker (CMO at Jones Road Beauty) may be able to truly monetize their thought leadership in the future.
At this time, Musk hasn’t shared any details about how users will be able to monetize their Twitter content, but he did hint at how much Twitter might be paying creators.
Quinn Nelson, founder of Snazzy Labs (a company that provides honest consumer tech reviews), responded to one of Musk’s tweets explaining that YouTube pays creators 55% of ad revenue.
To this, Musk responded, “We can beat that.”
Again, it’s still too early to know how Musk’s changes will impact the DTC community on Twitter, but it sounds like there’s an opportunity for every thought leader to make some well-earned cash for the time they spend crafting action-packed threads.
… Speaking of threads, Musk also wants to put an end to these. In a tweet, he shares that Twitter is working on a new feature where users can attach long-form texts to tweets, “ending absurdity of notepad screenshots.” And likely also putting an end to threads.
Making it easier to craft long-form content could excite DTC thought leaders who have predominantly been on other platforms to finally join Twitter and share their tips there too.
Take that news as you will, but 99% of the DTC community is pretty welcoming—we can’t imagine it being seen as a negative if more people want to join in on the fun.
After reading about the updates and how it could impact the community, do you think “DTC Twitter” plans to go anywhere else?
The verdict is in: no one is leaving ...Yet
After speaking with several active members of the DTC community, it’s clear that there aren’t plans to stop using the platform—right now at least.
People are definitely skeptical about the future, but there are three main reasons why everyone’s sitting tight and doing business as usual.
- Folks don’t want to start over
Twitter is a platform for people to grow their personal brand. In return, creators in the DTC industry get freelance business opportunities. This is one of the primary reasons people have invested time on it.
For example, Maria West is a content creator and copywriter for eCommerce parenting brands and technology. Twitter has been a source of new freelance leads for her business for years.
Not to mention, the effort it would take to rebuild followers and engagement from zero is a major turnoff.
- It’s simply too early to tell if the platform will fail
Musk’s changes feel sudden to users on a platform that, quite honestly, hasn’t seen much innovation over the years besides Twitter Spaces and Fleets (which we all remember how well Fleets turned out).
That’s another reason why a new leader who is making big announcements can cause some alarm bells.
The truth is, it’s too early to decide if it’s worth leaving Twitter or staying. The team needs time to build the new features, and then users will need time to see the impact they have on the platform. For this reason, DTC folks are hanging around.
“I don’t have strong thoughts yet as we haven’t seen any large changes just yet. Twitter gave me my community and my career. My last few jobs were from tweeting about the customer experience, and I can’t see myself building that anywhere else,” said Eli Weiss, Senior Director of CX and Retention at Jones Road Beauty. “I’ve been working on one-to-many connections on owned channels like my newsletter and podcast, but the one-on-one connections I have through Twitter… I don’t know.”
- Some people believe Twitter may improve
You may not be happy with Musk’s changes, but you have to admit ... He is a genius.
And not everyone feels the same about him taking over.
Others are choosing to be more optimistic about Twitter’s new features (and what more that could potentially come).
But while DTC operators may not be fleeing Twitter yet, the same can't be said for brands.
The New York Times reported this week that, "IPG, one of the world’s largest advertising companies, issued a recommendation on Monday through its media agencies for clients to temporarily pause their spending on Twitter because of moderation concerns."
Meanwhile, Gizmodo has reported that General Motors, Pfizer, and United Airlines all have pulled their advertising from Twitter.
At the same time, consider diversifying your channels now
So DTC Twitter isn’t going anywhere as of now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t have a backup plan. In fact, a bunch of tech thought leaders are preparing to build their personal brands on platforms like LinkedIn and Mastodon.
Mastodon, released in 2016, has many similar features like Twitter. Specifically, the microblogging feel.
What should you do? Start investing time in another channel now. If Twitter takes a turn for the worst, at least you’ll have established a bit of back-up. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to connect with more Scommerce experts elsewhere, right?
“I am less concerned about changes to the platform and more concerned about Elon, his antics, and the people he will let back on, sucking all the oxygen out of the room… I'll be keeping an eye on my own engagement, and if it starts to dip too much, you can find me on LinkedIn where there isn't as much platform-wide drama on a daily basis,” said Jess Bachman, Creative Strategy Director, Fire Team.
While the community on Twitter is supportive in many ways, remember it’s a small bubble of the entire DTC ecosystem.
Start diversifying on other channels. We promise, eCommerce folks are everywhere. Consider spending more time on LinkedIn and Slack Communities, or build out your own channel like a newsletter.
“I plan on sticking around. I highly doubt many users with sizable followings would give that up either. I'm very proud of how I grew my audience here from under 2000 followers to over 12000 in the past year. I'd hate to lose that ground, but I'm also confident I could see similar success in the next year on LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, or whatever else comes up.”
- Barry Hott, DTC Ads expert