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Reinventing the platform formerly known as Twitter

Prediction 3 - Twitter (X) will censor Elon to save itself

First things first - I love Elon Musk.

Wait – adland - bear with me.

Elon should be a hero to planners because he has demonstrated to the world that advertising is a significantly harder endeavour than rocket science, automotive engineering, or brain surgery.

Whilst Musk’s solitary foray into the world of advertising has tanked the value of Twitter by 50%, it’s clear he finds those other fields easier; SpaceX is worth +£30bn vs last summer, Tesla’s shares grew 140% for the year, and Neuralink is worth $5bn, +$2bn vs 2021.

Musk’s failure to grasp how advertising works means Twitter is now in serious trouble. Advertisers have deserted, alternate revenue streams are paltry, and there is little left to cut. The goodwill Twitter enjoyed from advertisers has gone in the wake of Elon’s jaw-dropping “GFY” outburst.

Brands mostly cite Musk’s tweets and the downsizing of Twitter’s content moderation team as reasons for boycotting the platform – a relatively easy call to make as Twitter was always a supporting social channel. And as with all social media advertising boycotts, brands act in herds. 95% do what the rest are doing.

If Twitter can reverse the herd mentality, then there is a path back.

2024 will see UK & US presidential elections, the Olympics, Euros, and two ongoing major conflicts. These events will happen on Twitter because it remains the place where journalists break news first. And we can say that with reasonable certainty because it has seen off the launch of a copycat from its biggest rival (RIP Threads).

Twitter also has a broad answer to its misinformation and hate speech problem in “community notes” - arguably the fastest and most transparent solution any of the major social platforms have found to combat misinformation.

But Musk himself is robbing Twitter of the chance to tell this story. Whilst he continues to tweet in the same style, nothing else will cut through to advertisers.

The safe bet is Twitter disappears with Musk blaming advertisers for killing it. But Linda Yaccarino, or whoever follows her, could change the narrative by removing or publicly refuting Musk’s tweets, maybe even temporarily suspending his account. Only a move this big and bold is likely to be noticed by advertisers.

Given the importance of Twitter to journalism, politics, media and sport, you feel there has to be some attempt at an intervention to save the value in the platform this year.